Photo courtesy of Houseonahillorg
I also write over at The Chicago Moms Blog and as the new school year gets into bloom, there has been quite a bit of parenting in the posts. I must say I am included in that mass.
I am finding that we moms tend to be our own worst critics.
I had not realized this problem's magnitude until just now.
Many times, I simply felt that one can not be hard enough on themselves, or others, when it comes to being a great parent.
Because I am in criminal justice, I see so many instances where the simplest thing can make a kid go wrong. So, for the past 25 years, I have been uber constructive, and very much the harsh amplifier, when witnessing someone's parenting skills.
However, after reading my fellow mothers' concerns, I can honestly say that we are too hard on ourselves sometimes, and gosh, why aren't more parents as diligent??
I can share recently, as I was collecting a urine specimen for a female defendant, that my thoughts were that she seemed pleasant enough and so I made the effort to engage in very small chit chat.
Typically I use these moments to guide, preach or encourage. Very rarely is it vague, and idle, small talk.
Upon returning her to the waiting area, I saw a familiar teen who over the years I attempted to mentor. He and his twin had served an alternative sentence for the past 5 years and, while I was not supervising their cases, I grew to know and interact with them...learning their likes, dislikes and dreams.
On this particular day, upon returning to the waiting area with this woman, I saw the taller twin and began to interact. We began discussing the latest news and the woman began chiming in too. The free communication went on for a few minutes when I began to notice a familiarity between the two and interrupted ... "Do you all know each other???" The twin replied that the woman was his mother. SHOCKED, I made a quick detour with my thoughts and wished them a great day.
So many times I had wondered about their mother, father, home-life and what I felt was missing in their upbringing.
I am still pondering all these days later. Should I have asked her about her family, was there anything I could have done to ease her burden, chastise her, was it best to stay out of the loop here. The boys, in my opinion, are a wreck in many ways. Multiple arrests, drug cases and violations between the two. Is this "apples not falling far from the tree"? Is this environmental? A family affair? What? What did she do or not do?
As a civil servant/law enforcement agent, we toddle back and forth effortlessly between investigator, counselor, mentor, enforcer and psychologist.
But, no matter how long I have been analyzing, as I said, 25 years, it is always cause to pause and reflect as to how do we as parents, despite our socio-economic status, produce good and bad children.
We might think that poverty plays a role, but in many instances it does not play the role we think.
Attentive, conscientious, deliberate, disciplined parenting goes much farther than anything in ones bank account, but where do we go wrong in circumstances where everything adds up to success?
How do we determine what the exact recipe is for well-rounded, good kids?
Do we beat ourselves up when we simply are doing our best? How do we draw the line, make the grade or satisfy the beast? We know that all of us are not exactly cut out for parenting. Many of us struggle with mental illness and substance abuse. What types of chances do our little ones actually have? When is it completely up to them to chose their own path despite our best efforts?
Statistics show one thing ...
But in reality, I am not sure there is an answer. I do know that if our intentions remain pure, we are honest with ourselves and our offspring - in doing the best possible with the ones we love, we have won. Won something at any rate ... hopefully it is respect and a contributing, successful citizen. If we somehow missed the mark, we must forgive ourselves and go forward, impacting in lieu of our mistakes and hoping the universe sees fit to make our negatives positives.