Parenting is definitely no job for the faint of heart. Nor for the perfectionist. Or the selfish. But, if you’re reading this blog you already know this! Of course, we make mistakes throughout our parenting journey ~ and if we could go back and start this parenting of teens over with all the knowledge and wisdom we now have, there’s almost a guarantee that we would do some things differently. Especially those “bad decisions” we made.
You know the one I’m talking about ~ the one that ultimately led to your son getting his girlfriend pregnant or his exposure to drugs and alcohol. That one decision that started you down this road of heartache and worry for that child of yours that you remember so fondly snuggling with and him swearing that he wanted to marry you or at least live next door to you when he grew up. That one bad decision you made that messed it all up, and now ~ here you are.
Because you’re a conscientious parent you probably try to make yourself feel better by reminding yourself that “I made the best decision I could with the information I had.” Now, this may sound nice but it makes a huge assumption ~ since the outcome was not what you wanted it to be, it was still a bad decision on your part, which makes the outcome your fault, which causes you a lot of pain. And, there’s no doubt about it, a parent in pain is going to move forward with a lot less confidence, a harder time loving, and with no peace for what is.
But know this… a decision can be a good decision even if the outcome wasn’t what you expected or desired.
I can state this so emphatically because things that happen (events) are neutral (neither good nor bad) ~ even a runaway son who no longer believes anything you’ve taught him. Now, I’m not suggesting that you should (or that you would even want to) be happy about how your child is currently behaving because trying to think positively about something you believe is a negative situation never works for very long. But the fact remains that what actually happens is, in and of itself, neutral, and we get to decide what it means:
- If someone cuts you off in traffic (neutral event), some people become irate while others are simply grateful they didn’t get hit.
- Your son isn’t home by curfew (neutral event); you might assume he’s doing things you’re not happy about or maybe you think he’s been in an accident.
- Your son’s girlfriend is pregnant (neutral event); one parent might think it’s all his fault, while another parent might blame the girl.
What happens is always neutral ~ even past decisions you make as a parent. The only thing that determines whether it was a good or bad decision is how you think about it now.
When our son ran away from home a few weeks before Christmas, I second-guessed many of my parenting decisions. Choices we had made that seemed good or right in the moment suddenly seemed completely and utterly wrong (see what I mean about a decision being neutral?). But as the days turned into weeks, and the weeks turned into months, I began to understand (believe) that, even though it didn’t make much sense to me, this was the journey my son needed to take to learn the lessons he needs to learn, and it really had nothing to do with me and any of my parenting decisions.
Things just happen sometimes and you get to decide how to think about it. Despair, turmoil, and worry are always an option. But so is confidence, peace, and unconditional love (for all involved ~ including you!). Which do you choose?