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Thread: Parenting and the Primacy of the Individual! page

  1. #1
    Kelda's Avatar
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    Parenting and the Primacy of the Individual!

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    I've struggled with parenting for the last few years. And I won't bore you with a long history of stressful events with my daughter over the last 5 or 6 years culiminating in her totally unannounced and permanent disappearance in July 09, aged 17. What I want to share with you here is how I've managed to get my head around the whole notion of successful parenting and my perceived failure at it! What follows is the email I sent her this evening ... I hope it speaks to some of you.

    "Ive spent all day writing you emails, and none of them have been sent they kept turning out wrong and missing the point.

    I want to explain how Im feeling now, and have felt over the last few weeks. When I arrive on the 8th I want you to have understood what I have tried to do over the years and how I see this visit I want to enjoy the time helping you feather your new nest however you want it to be within reason, I dont have a limitless budget so chandeliers are probably right off the agenda!

    I actively chose to devote 20 years to being a full time parent. I believed it was the most important contribution I could make to my children growing up and being successful. As with everything I do in life I made a 100% commitment and did my very best, at all times. Id always succeeded in anything Id chosen to do except for racquet sports and I pretty quickly gave up with those; hand eye co-ordination was never my strong suit!

    I aimed to be the perfect parent sounds pretty arrogant now I guess, but at the time it was well meant and I assumed if I put in 100%, Id succeed.

    I can now see the glaring flaw in my logic - how do you measure success? Pretty easy if you are learning an instrument, you practice, you get better, you pass an exam, you succeed. You take the driving test, you pass, you are a driver. But parenthood what is a successful parent?

    I can tell you what it feels like being an unsuccessful parent having a daughter that disappears, that felt like a massive failure on my part. But that was just my perspective. Looked at another way you could say Id very successfully reared a chick that was ready to launch itself onto the world without a backward glance! In fact you have been independent for nearly two years now, no mean feat in the current economic climate!

    The point is every person is an individual, a unique collection of potentials and they decide their own direction in life. What they enjoy will be different from another, things that excite them will bore someone else senseless. Some learn from watching others and some just have to get burnt!

    What I have had difficulty coming to terms with is that your chosen way of living is so completely different from mine. Im slowly coming to realise that parenting isnt a pass or fail occupation! It never was. Whoever you are, and whatever you become, is down to you, and you alone and what I think about it is actually totally irrelevant.

    I can now see that for me the only measure of being a good parent is to provide your child with as many opportunities as you believe are likely to give that child the best possible chance of being able to use their skills to fulfil their dreams, that and making sure they dont starve! And that is the crucial bit, THEIR dreams, not the parents, or the grandparents or anyone elses. What they choose to do with the upbringing they are provided with is down to them.

    Of course it cuts both ways. The way I choose to live my life is entirely up to me and what you think about my life is irrelevant too!

    On this occasion I have chosen to step up and help you. It was my decision to do this. My goal is to place you back on your feet ready to get on with your life. I understand that what you choose to do with this opportunity, just as with all the ones we have offered over the years, is entirely up to you. However, this is the last time I can help. I want that to be clear. I want to work alongside you during those 9 days as equals and then let you get on with your life whilst I get on with mine.

    Mum x"
    Seeking the natural way in a modern world ...

  2. #2
    JenCat's Avatar
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    Wow. That must be/have been heart wrenching for you. You did raise an independent, strong-willed (I'm assuming) individual. I fear there are many kids today who have been coddled so much that they couldn't make it a week on their own. It sounds like you've come to terms with it, at least in your head. {hugs}

  3. #3
    Kelda's Avatar
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    Thank you. Yes, very strong-willed, and independent - in fact she left under our RADAR and settled 600 miles away! She actually benefitted from Kurt Hahn's education approach (she attended Gordonstoun and their prep school) although we hadn't expected it to 'work' quite so effectively! I can jest now but it really wasn't funny at the time.
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  4. #4
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    Hugs to you. So well written!

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    Brava! Very inspiring to me; thank you for posting it here.
    Whether you think you can, or think you cant youre right. ~ Henry Ford

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    I stand at the opposite end of the spectrum, in that I've recently left my family (18 then, 21 now), and don't plan on ever returning. The only difference being that I've actually confronted them.

    While I think your intentions are in the right place, I found myself growing increasingly angry as I read your letter, particularly this part:

    Looked at another way you could say I’d very successfully reared a chick that was ready to launch itself onto the world without a backward glance! In fact you have been independent for nearly two years now, no mean feat in the current economic climate!
    Seriously? Trying to gloss over your problems and take credit for her running away is NOT HELPFUL. I guarantee that if she reads that, your chances of reconciliation will plummet even further. If you really want to reach her, you need to be relentlessly curious about why she ran away, why she isn't interested in communication.

    Your letter is entirely devoid of humility. You don't even acknowledge that there's the slightest possibility you may have done something to hurt her. You seem to want to chalk it all up to individuals having their mutual differences, when you know damn well that's not how the parent-child relationship works!

    However, this is the last time I can help. I want that to be clear. I want to work alongside you during those 9 days as equals and then let you get on with your life whilst I get on with mine.
    And then you finish off the letter with an ultimatum??? Your daughter leaves you, makes it very clear she has no interest in seeing or speaking to you, and you're STILL trying to dominate her into doing what you wish? This is also really, really not helpful, to your cause or hers.

    Think about it: good marriages don't end in divorce. Likewise, children don't flee parents who treated them well.

    If you want your daughter back, you need to ask questions and listen. Stop trying to control the relationship.
    The whole concept of a macronutrient, like that of a calorie, is determining our language game in such a way that the conversation is not making sense." - Dr. Kurt Harris

  7. #7
    Kelda's Avatar
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    Thank you for your thoughts. Everyone has their own perspective. And of course you don't know all the history which I'm not going to post here. The whole point is that each individual is responsible for their own actions, and reactions. This is purely my response and as such can't be wrong, just as her response whether positive or negative can't be wrong either. This is my honest assessment and understanding of my situation from my perspective and the laying down of my own boundaries.

    We don't choose our children or our parents, there is no given that the pairings will work however hard one or other tries. Perhaps once you have been a parent and viewed the situation from the other side of the fence you may (or may not) see things differently.
    Seeking the natural way in a modern world ...

  8. #8
    Kelda's Avatar
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    It was received positively :-). Hopefully from here it will be plainer sailing. I think I needed to express it more than she needed to hear it!
    Seeking the natural way in a modern world ...

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