We all want perfect, happy children who get good grades, have winning personalities and loads of friends, graduate from the best colleges, earn huge salaries, marry wonderful people and have wonderful children, and on and on. If they do well for themselves, we’re pleased as punch. If they don’t, and are sad, we’re sad, too. There’s a saying, “You’re only as happy as your saddest child.”
I saw a riveting movie called “Beautiful Boy” today on Pay Per View, about a couple in a strained marriage whose only child commits a heinous crime, then kills himself. The movie takes us through the way they process his death and the crime, as well as the reaction of their friends, neighbors, co-workers and families. Needless to say, they go through a period of intense self-doubt, when they blame themselves and each other for their son’s violence.
Are we somewhat, overwhelmingly or not at all responsible if our children turn into marvels or monsters? Are monster parents who have marvelous offspring just plain lucky, while marvelous parents with monster kids drew the short straw? Is it okay to dislike your child if he turns out to be a monster?
Our parents raised us differently than their parents raised them; we raised our children differently than our parents raised us, and now our kids are raising their kids differently than they were raised by us.
Every generation is certain it’s unlocked the secret to perfect parenting. So how come so many imperfect people continue to inhabit the earth?