Parenting 101

“Well Veena, your parents may have really screwed up but my parents were great. All of my problems are just my problems. I was just born this way.”

Cue Lady Gaga.

No one person has said this to me, but this is the gist of what I hear often from people that read my blog.

My response is this: talk to my parents sometime. I’ll get them on the phone for you. They’re really wonderful people. My mom will call and tell me about how she’s finally putting her career on hold and really learning how to be a wife to my father. My dad will text and ask for help on how to notice when he’s unconsciously criticizing my mother and how he can break this deeply ingrained pattern.

Now how many people do you know that can do that?

Let me try to explain this one more time.

Loving is a skill. In the same way fencing is a skill and in the same way pruning orchids is a skill. No one is born with this knowledge. We may have an innate desire to, say, produce music, but that innate desire isn’t going to land you a gig at Carnegie Hall…unless you’re Mozart.

That’s a lie. Carnegie Hall wasn’t even built in his lifetime.

Parenting is, for the most part, loving. Ask any parent and they can tell you that babies don’t come out of the womb with handbooks or quick reference guides. From diapering to breastfeeding to loving to disciplining, you figure it out as you go. There’s no required course for becoming a parent. The process for obtaining a hunting license is infinitely more thorough. Simply begetting a child does not somehow magically imbue you with the know-how required to actually raise the darned thing.

So this is how it is. Parents do the best they can with shoddy tools and shoddy information. Children reap the unfortunate consequences. There’s no malice, no blaming, and no offense. It’s a cyclical problem. If we keep climbing up the family tree, who’s left to blame? Adam and Eve? Okay, now we’ve completed that pointless exercise.

Heck, would you take offense if I told you that my father is a pretty crappy brain surgeon? I suppose you could, but it wouldn’t make any sense. My father didn’t go to medical school. He’s an engineer at Lockheed Martin.

Our parents did the best they could in circumstances less than ideal.
If we see better choices, we take them. In the meantime, people get hurt. No use beating around the bush. Mistakes are the only way we learn and just as I have the right to learn, so did my parents. We all made it out okay.

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