Disclaimer: I will start this post by saying, I am not yet a parent. (unless you count our furbaby, Jasper) So this is solely coming from my background in child development and the daily interactions with my students. As well as from a daughter’s point of view.
Whether we want to admit it or not, to the shrink or to ourselves, our childhood molds us into the adults we are today. Our parents are artists really. Artists that can change the way we are built depending on whether they build us up or break us down. As I study my students and get to know their families, I quickly realize that my parents are godsend. The Lord truly chose the best people in the world to raise such a strong, sassy, rebellious daughter. Seriously, if there were limits I pushed them...and still do.
There are times in our life, mostly the ages of 13-21, when we fight with our parents. We think they are lame for setting curfews or silly for making us wear matching sweaters for Christmas cards. Our ridiculous teenage brains tell us that they are here to ruin our crazy little worlds. But in reality, all of the above are ways they show they care. I have come to realize over the years that every situation I have ever come across my parents had a lesson for me. They always helped me through it, but they taught me something. The experience taught me something.
Moving? They were there. New routine? They helped me practice. Spelling test? Studying with me. Boyfriend problems? Always there to talk. Prom dress? Pros and cons list for every dress. Car wreck? On the scene. Simply having a bad day? Full of jokes to cheer me up. Wedding planning? Every meeting. Wedding day? Hugs and smiles. As I see it, my parents have been there for me for EVERYTHING. I am so thankful and blessed to call them parents, mentors, counselors and friends. Best friends. Without them, I do not know where I would be.
Many of you are thinking I must have the perfect nuclear family, but I do not. My parents got divorced when I was 12. My mom and I moved into a condo across town from my Dad. My childhood was not easy by any means, but I can honestly say without the guidance and love of my parents I would not be the successful woman I am today.
So then what is a parent? By definition a parent is a caretaker of the offspring in their own species. But I think we all form our own definition based on our experiences. My heart breaks for my students that have rough home lives. (Some of them you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy.) It’s very difficult to build up a child’s confidence when all they have ever experienced is verbal abuse telling them how inadequate they are. Sometimes all they need to hear is that they are special. That someone cares. That they are loved. After all, isn’t that what we all need?
This post isn’t meant to brag on my amazing life or parade the benefits of having both parents around. I have many friends that are very successful and grew up with only one parent. Some of y’all raised yourself with no parents. The point of this post is to recognize that it takes something special to be parent. A person who is going to love and care for you. Who will celebrate, mourn and rejoice with you. Parents are special. If you have them in your life, tell them how much you love and appreciate them.
To my Mom and Dad: Thank you. Thank you for loving me, even when I know it was hard to. Thank you for caring about me enough to set boundaries. Thank you for always encouraging me to go after my dreams. Y’all are my rock and I love you both very much.
p.s.- a post about my stepfather is coming soon