Plenty of us are parents.
Married parents, single parents, divorced parents, young parents, late in life parents, widowed parents, accidental parents, blended family parents with stepchildren, step-parents, step cats and step dogs.
In my book, there are only good parents and there are bad ones.
It’s just that black and white.
Good parents are not those who go through parenthood without error. Far from it. They make mistakes. Many mistakes. Honest mistakes, common mistakes, sometimes earth shattering ones.
But they learn from them.
They don’t have to be with anyone to be good parents.
Some single parents are vastly superior in terms of versatility, time management and problem solving then those who have significant others to rely on.
But they all start off in the same melting pot. Partial versions of their own parents.
Because – just as in infancy – we learn from our environment and those closest to us. We don’t know anything else.
As adults facing parenthood though, this period of growth and uncertainty is accelerated because we already have ideas. And will have made certain conclusions or put plans in motion before our little twinkles have graced us with their presence.
I’m a parent of four myself. I often open my mouth and I am surprised when out comes my mother. I’ve even stopped myself in mid-sentence. We’ve all heard the cliches about ‘turning into ones parents’. My mother was by no means a bad mother; she’s been my inspiration and a tower of strength & knowledge for as long as I can remember. But the evolution of parenting means that you spend your own parenthood sifting through how you were parented (brought up), how others around you were brought up and your longings (sometimes unfulfilled) as a child and you try to make changes for the better for your own.
Bad parenting, on the other hand, isn’t restricted to abuse (physical or psychological).
It is those parents who coddle their children to the extent that they are incapable of standing on their own two feet and seek relationships where their partner assumes the caring role of parent and looks after them.
It is the parents who force their children to look after them, instead of the other way around and so produce adults who seek to care for without regard to their own deserved happiness and wellbeing.
It is those who are disillusioned with their lot in life and are not happy with the individuals they have become, but instead want to live their own dreams vicariously through that child, thus forcing the child to ignore its own passions in order to receive their parents love.
It is the parents who confuse bribery for love. Or tough discipline at all times for love.
It is the parents who have lost touch with their inner child.
We are all born with the propensity to give love and receive love.
Love is blind. It does not see colour, race, class, religion, political affiliation, age or any of the bullshit we come up with to excuse away other humans.
Love is being human.
Love sees likeness in the strangest situations. It isn’t always right but it is true.
And just like a flower needs light, water, food and shelter to flourish – so do children. They need structure, routine, guidelines and love. And that seed you’ve been blessed with can transform into something you could never imagine.
But choke it and plant it next to weeds, put it in a dark place and withhold water and it soon becomes this twisted, strangled excuse from which nothing good can spring forth.
Good parents are careful. They know that they reap what they sow.