Thursday, July 31, 2014
How NOT to Be a Parent, Adoptive Parent, or Step-Parent (or How Not to Be a Parent)
When you make the choice to be a parent (be it biological, adoptive, step, or some other variation), you make the choice to change your life by being in the lives of others permanently. Permanently. Parenting doesn't end when the kids turn 18. Parenting doesn't end when the kids go through a rebellious phase. Parenting doesn't end. Ever. You don't get to toss kids aside when they're no longer kids. You don't get to forget them when you get divorced from their other parent or remarried to another. Should you get remarried to someone who doesn't want them in your life, you're 1) and idiot for marrying or getting involved with that person int he first place, and 2) still responsible for being a parent regardless of what your partner thinks (see point 1). You don't get to forget birthdays once their out of your house, see them only when they make the effort, or otherwise blow them off. Ever. Why does this even need to be said??!
When you make the choice to be a parent, you make the choice to be present permanently. Permanently. Parental presence doesn't end when you decide to move away to be with your new partner. Parental presence doesn't end because it makes that partner uncomfortable to be reminded that you had a life before him or her. Parental presence doesn't end because things are hard. You don't get to abandon your children when they graduate high school, say "I hate you," stop wanting to hang out with you, or stop thinking you're a model of perfection. You don't get to stop being there for your kids because you don't get along with their other parent. I'm so pissed I have to write this!
As long as your children (biological, adoptive, step, or some other variation) want relationships with you, you are there. That's it. You just are. In every way. Because you're a parent. That's the deal. Did you miss that memo? If your children don't want a relationship (for whatever reason), you're still there, but respectful of their boundaries. Because you don't ever leave. You're a parent. Always. If your child stops saying I love you, you don't get to stop and use the excuse that they started it. What are you, five??! If your child needs space and then returns to you, you don't get to put conditions on which you'll be in his or her life. You don't get to put conditions on your love for your children at all. You're a parent. Always. C'mon!
I have parents in my life who do all of the above. I have parents in my life who have actually hidden, physically hidden, from their children in effort to avoid and then when they were found, they pretended not to recognize the child. Bullshit. I have parents in my life who have stopped saying "I love you" to their child, because they child struggles to say it to them. Bullshit. I have parents in my life who honestly expect their children to accept the notion that "your mother made it too hard for me to see you" as an excuse for their abandonment. Bullshit. Divorce, geography, an inhospitable partner, your own effing head noises, whatever else you have told yourself is an acceptable reason to stop being a parent to your children is NOT, in fact, an acceptable reason. You're a parent. All the time. Always. Forever. Obviously, you missed that in the manual, so I'm here to give you the newsflash. Asshat.