Dear Mom and Dad,
I was driving to work this morning and caught a bit of “The Herd with Colin Cowherd” on ESPN radio.
Usually, he chats about things like the NBA Draft, flaws in Major League Baseball, or why warm weather cities won’t have loyal fans.
But this morning he started ranting about over-parenting.
He talked about how modern parents are obsessed about being there for their kids. They want to do everything, go everywhere with their kids. They feel guilty about going on business trips, like they’re going to miss something important or impactful.
I agree with him: parents today don’t want to mess up. But “messing up” may not be as bad as they think.
You both worked full-time jobs. You had four kids to raise. You didn’t have time to take us to basketball practice or soccer games. You did the best you could, and that’s all any kid could ask for, really.
And now, in hindsight, I actually appreciate the fact that you weren’t always there for me.
I know that sounds weird to say. But think about this: I caught the bus in second grade, mastering the public transportation system by age 8. As a latch-key kid, I figured out how to bake sugar cookies in a toaster oven and make grilled cheese sandwiches — and I was still in grade school.
I had to figure things out on my own. If I missed a bus stop, I had to learn to stay calm, ring the bell, find my way back. If I broke something, I had to fix it. And if I was left with a choice, I had to make my own decision — and live with the consequences of it.
I know you would have wanted to be there, to help me navigate life. But because of that freedom — OK, it was more like throwing me in the deep end of the pool and telling me to swim — I gained confidence in myself, I became self-reliant, and I learned to be creative.
There was a study done awhile back that showed kids who got fewer presents turned out to be more creative. That made me laugh, remembering how we’d play in empty refrigerator boxes stuffed with styrofoam peanuts. Seriously, those were good times!
It’s easy to blame our parents for the things that go wrong in our lives. And I could sit here and whine about how you weren’t around growing up. You rarely came to my volleyball matches, you never taught me how to ride a bike or swim, you were never around.
But that’s not fair.
You guys were great parents. You provided for us, you pointed us in the right direction, you doled out advice (some of which you don’t take yourself, but that’s another blog), and you were our biggest fans, even from a distance.
So I’m not upset that you worked more than most parents and didn’t make me home lunch every day. You helped me become the person I am today, flawed and somewhat neurotic but happy nonetheless.
As a working mom, I always reminded my two kids that I try to be at their program/field trip/event but there are times that I couldn’t and it was ok. There were kids that would cry when their mom wasn’t there for everything but I agree with you, it makes kids more resilient.
Very well said! Yes parents today are doing everything different then what they were taught growing up. I can relate to eveything you just wrote I am not to much younger than you are but it’s true us children grew up with common sense and we had to problem solve our own problems.
The children of today seems like they always need to have something in their hands ex. phones, games or kendamas.
CAT: My Mom insisted that we all sit down and have dinner together everyday. Rest of the time we were anywhere and everywhere.
I agree 100% of what you said. I too grew up a latch key kid. I had to figure out stuff on my own and even take care of my two younger brothers. But like you said about todays parents wanting to be with the kids and do everything with them and for them. I was that parent, because my parents wasn’t there for me I decided I’m going to be there for my kids. Not a good idea, my kids didn’t know what or how to do simple that’s because I was doing it for them. Now young adults, I can see them shruggling on their own having a harder time doing things and trying to figure out stuff more than was I was at their age.
Both of my parents worked, I was essentially raised by my grandparents, but you know… I KNEW my parents loved me… and I KNOW they still love me… They weren’t always there, but I got stronger as a person because of it. I depended on them a lot, but when the thought of losing one became very real for me, it was okay, they taught me that no matter what life might throw at you, you roll with the punches, and counterpunch when the timing is right. Thanks a lot mom and dad, I wouldn’t be the guy I am now without you!
Beautiful posting. My parents are both deceased, mother gone 24 years, and father a year and a half. I acknowledged their struggles and thanked them while they were here, but we grow to appreciate more their sacrifices and forgive them for their inevitable mistakes as we ourselves gain in experience and make our own mistakes.
You can never tell them too much what special people they are, and how they’ve helped make you the special person that you are. It’s good that you’re doing it again here. Many people don’t, and once they’re gone, it’s one more of life’s missed opportunities.
Hey Cat …. LOVE the picture!!! … I had that haircut too!!! … seems we all had that kind of hair cut back then, boy or girl …
… and the familiar pose in front of a plumeria tree … classic!!! … haha … not really sure if that’s a plumeria tree … but it sure looks like a lot of photos we have …
… yes!!! … as kids we were built better back then … left to our own resources, we learned to do practically everything on our own … we cooked … we cleaned … we could get around town walking or on the bus … we could make our own orders at the counters of stores or take out restaurants … we could pay for it and know how much change we’re supposed to get …
… we went fishing at the nearby streams and ponds with the other neighborhood kids … we built treehouses, climbed up trees and picked our own mango and lychee … ok this was dangerous, but we did it anyway … we made our own games on the street … built bats with tree limbs or old pieces of wood … shaped footballs out of newspaper and tape …
… we had very little supervision to guide us … no internet to look up how to do stuff … but we did … and I think were all the better for it …
… I don’t want to knock today’s youth … they’re probably smarter, intellectually … and they have better tools to succeed …
… but because today’s parents shelter their kids so much … and do practically everything for them … they are painfully lacking in street smarts … you know, the little important things we need to know to thrive independently in this world …
… at some point, they need to learn … might as well be when they’re kids, right??? …
… or maybe you want your kids depending on you when they’re 25 …
I had a similar childhood but with stricter Chinese parents. They never spared the rod and I think if standards today were prevelant in the past it would be considered child abuse. However, we turned out model citizens with a love of our children with a greater respect for being a good kid. Good blog!