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.