Getting older and, hopefully, a bit wiser, I'm always thinking, sometimes over thinking, about what we really tell our kids about how life can work. I grew up in a household where:
A) You never told anyone how you voted. Why? I'm not sure, but I recall my parents talking with my aunts and uncles about candidates and slipping in lines like: 'I'm not telling you who I voted for but, blah, blah, blah.' Fascinating to me as a kid. Somehow it was just a well kept secret back then.
B) You never mentioned how much you made on a job, in your work, career or whatever job you were doing. Again, listening to my parents, this didn't happen just in our household, but no one was saying what they were paid. Was it somehow taboo? I figured it must have been.
We, as parents, lecture, or we tend to bitch at our kids, but what do we really say in a heart to heart conversation with them? Sometimes we just don't. Do we always see them, not as adults, or even as becoming adults, so we just let life take its course? I'm just as guilty of this as the next parent.
I wish Mom had told me:
A) If a relationship is chuck full of drama, it isn't good. Why isn't it good? Well, drama usually means one person in the relationship is attempting to be center stage, wants all or a lion's share, of the attention and in turn, wants their own way most of the time. A comfortable relationship is not built on one person getting their own way most of the time. Why? It means the other person is making too many compromises and this leads to resentment.
B) You cannot always trust what your heart feels. Yes, yes, many people will take the stand in defense of trusting your heart, your hormones or whatever we follow when we think it's love, and how it worked for them. Maybe so, maybe it works for many people, not for everyone though. Do we really listen to our kids and ask them how a relationship is going? Are we afraid we will be viewed as too nosy? Let them have the opportunity to really have a conversation about it with you. Hopefully, we as a parent, know what makes a good relationship.
C) There is no formula for what makes relationships or even life, great. The only formula is what works for you, what makes you happy, what makes you comfortable in your own skin.
We rarely tell our kids about our own past, maybe we fear they will think less of us, but I say maybe we should tell them. We should tell them we were and are, human after all. We were not born grownups either. We should let them know what and why we did some things, especially if it turned out badly. If you can relate your most hurtful or embarrassing moments, you may be helping them. Will they always consider how it can turn out? Maybe not, but at least we planted the seeds.
Do you know why people over 45, 50, and 60 have no appeal to marketers? It's because, for the most part, we have figured it out, so we are not the marketers targets anymore. We rarely buy for the sake of buying any longer, understanding this or that gadget will not make us look like that 12 year old model in the picture, that product will not cause us to attract the opposite sex and so on, so forth. You get the picture. Even in a midlife crisis, we do still get it. The reason people buy that sports car in midlife is probably because we didn't have the money to buy it when the kids were growing up. Not a crisis at all, just something we always wanted but could not afford to buy it before midlife.
Have you hugged your kid today? Have you talked to your kid today? Have you listened to your kid today?
One big thing I did learn when getting a divorce: In my first marriage we had many friends, most of them married. I always thought they were very happy and content in their relationships. When I told the wives I was seeking a divorce, one by one, they confided in me that they too were contemplating a divorce. So my bubble of their happy relationships, burst.
Ah, Mom, ya held out on me. Were you afraid to let me know these things? Maybe so.