We can have as many partners as we like but we will have only one set of parents. After having become a parent, I realised that there is no training for parents- you are simply handed a baby and that is it! No matter how much you read on parenting (and I should know as I read about 150 of them!) , your child will be unique and therefore no book can tell you how to handle him or her. It will be tricky and you can go along, sometimes winning, sometimes losing but as long as your child is happy and healthy, then you are fine. Parenting is a great responsibility- the responsibility to make a human being as as best as you can, with no prior training or knowledge! Can’t think of any other work that is so great and yet so under-valued.
Two days ago, I sat on the train, listening to three teenagers, complaining about their parents. It was clear that they were returning from some holiday, tanned and tired. They had fun and probably used some of their parents’ money to fund this holiday. Yet some of the stuff one the girls said about her parents made me sad. She seemed utterly ungrateful. She probably did not realise how it made her sound, how it made her look bad- not her parents.
Part of growing up includes having compassion for others, including our parents. If our parents made mistakes while bringing us up, we can be objective about it. Yet at the same time, we can keep in mind that they were subject to the emotions, mistakes and physical tiredness that parenting brings. We can identify the things in us that may be similar to our parents. Even if we don’t have any outer signs that we share some common features, we must remember that we are half of each parent. In my family, no one looks like each other. On the emotional side, my father suffers from depression and used to beat me and my sisters. I hated him for that. Now that he is a weak invalid, slowly counting his days, I remember that I am half of him. Although I am a happy optimistic person, I know that I could be like him because I share his genes. Something could turn in my life to make me depressed because the latent effect is already inside my cells. I feel compassion for him, although I remember my childhood clearly. After having overcome my habit of hoarding, for instance, I am very compassionate towards my mother who still hoards. This habit comes from her very deprived childhood and I feel compassion for her. If I did not, then I would still be a child. So compassion is not only a great healer but also helps you to grow up!