Granted, we all can find faults in what our parents did. My experience is not unique, nor is it terrible. My father was an alcoholic and self centered. My mother was the ultimate enabler in many ways. These were people who had three small children, yet opened a biker bar. My father’s parents also were alcoholics and my grandmother was mentally disturbed and institutionalized. This is where things get bizarre.
My father always lamented that he didn’t have the Norman Rockwell family, as a child. Yet he achieved it as an adult. He had a beautiful wife, three children and a wonderful house in the suburbs. The neighborhood we lived in would make Mr. Rogers look like a ghetto. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough.
He wanted to be a celebrity. He needed more attention. He was so self absorbed he should have been embarrassed. And encouragement? Forget it.
My sister has more musical talent in her pinky than most have in their body. From clarinet to electric guitar, she can play it. She also has a genius level IQ and wanted to be an engineer. My father told her once that she shouldn’t waste her time on that “mathematic junk.” He told her she should have been Britney Spears, so she could support him, as he got older. I wanted to be an artist or writer or even a chef and he told me I had no talent and should quit. My sister is one of the people who has probably designed whatever you are reading this on. Me, I still love to cook and if you’re reading this, I obviously still enjoy writing.
What I learned the most from my father is simple. I learned how not to be a parent. I encourage my two sons to do better and to follow their dreams. Maybe they will succeed. Maybe they won’t. I will not judge them. I will never discourage them.
I spend as much time as I can with them. I want them to know that I not only love them, but I am always here for them. I let them know that I may not agree with their decisions, but unless it could truly hurt them, I will support them. Being a parent is not always easy. Those little diaper messers grow up. They have their own minds and opinions and goals. I just hope, that unlike my father, I can rise and meet the challenge. Not the challenge of controlling them. The challenge of being the best “Papa” I can be.