Comfort for Parents

My favorite Yiddish word is “kvell,” which is when parents and grandparents gush with pride over their little offsprings. This past week, I got to kvell for an entire day!

My daughter, Emily, presented her high school senior project before a small collection of friends, family members, and teachers. What did she do for her project? She illustrated an entire children’s book, and then used the illustrations as background slides for the presentation that described, in detail, how she allocated 120 hours of work to complete the project.

120 hours? I don’t think I spent that much time working on all my projects combined when I was in high school!

The point of all this is not to brag about my daughter (well, maybe a little). The point is that I realized that how this beautiful young woman presented herself – the poise, humility, and confidence – how little to do with me, or my wife.

True, we have tried to instill in her a strong work ethic, discipline, and good values. And we have provided her with a safe home environment, shelter, and healthy food to eat. But for the most part, she is who she is of her own accord. In other words, she gets the lion’s share of the credit for who and how she is, while her parents – well – we can only accept some of it.

Why bring this up?

Because the converse is also true. Some kids have challenges and struggles, and don’t have much to show for themselves. There’s a whole alphabet soup of diagnoses out there: ADHD, ODD, OCD, depression, anxiety. Some kids lie habitually, steal, get hooked on drugs or other addictions, become sexually active at a young age, create pregnancies, and on and on.

Just as committed parents can have wonderful, successful kids, the very same committed parents can have kids who face a plethora of difficulties. Of course, some parents are “good” people but lack good parenting skills, but even those with seemingly excellent parenting skills are not immune to having kids with difficulties. So many difficulties that children face are not due to bad parenting!

The moral of the story is, parents, to do your level best to provide all the love and discipline you can muster, and instill good values in your children, but realize that you cannot control who and what they become. So feel free to “kvell” at every opportunity when they make you proud, recognizing that you are only partly responsible for their success, and avoid beating yourself up when they fail, for that, too, is mostly their responsibility.

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