I have been a parent for all of six years.
Sometimes I think I suck at it. Other times I feel ok. Mostly I don’t know.
I’m quite good at some other relational things. Things I’ve done for much longer in time and so gained much more experience.
Romantic relationships for example. I’ve been doing romantic relationships for about 26 years.
In the first six years of experimenting with my humanness in the minefield of romance, I reckon I completely sucked. From the age of about 13 (when I fell hopelessly in love), to the age of about 19 (the considered 6 years) I bumbled my way through a total of about 4 big loves (big at the time) and a few casual encounters. I wouldn’t claim I had any mad skills.
I definitely broke some hearts.
As a parent, I like to think I had a head-start on some skills required in terms of maturity, the ability to take responsibility, a sense of self, a general sense of fairness. And yet more often than not I find myself reflecting on odd behaviour (mine and theirs) and wondering what the hell I am shouting, doing, and how I can be so completely inconsistent and bad at it. And why all the other parents have different ideas to me. I don’t seem to be able to find my groove.
I suppose the maiden has her ducks in a row, while the mother still has some growth in her.
Parenting can come in consideration of the past, but to be honest, I am getting tired of hindsight. How things were done tens of years ago simply has no bearing on our lifestyles today. My parents didn’t have half the social issues that we face now. And culturally, everything was different from dinner-times to political correctness. Other than the general vibe of the thing, I renounce my parents way of doing things as about as useful as following a bible story. It being mostly fiction in the memory and likened to some kind of grail.
I also wonder what if any influence they had on me. Or whether the positives were just as useful as the negatives. The negatives being lessons in how not to be. I could just as well become a criminal to set an example to propel my kids in the other direction.
All I want for my kids is for them to feel welcome and loved and safe in their own home. That sounds simple but there are things that could disrupt that, even with good intentions. A closed and locked door. A sense of exclusion. A feeling of disempowerment or subordination. A sense of not being accepted for who they are. Whilst a hard-line might work in the long run, my guess is it only ever works when delivered in a complete and unconditional loved environment. You just know your parents love you through the vibe of the thing. They could do anything under such circumstances.
Coparents brought in at some late stage could hardly get that base of love vibe across the line unless some very unusual circumstances were afoot.
As a coparent you have an opportunity to parent someone else’s child in a totally different way to how you would parent your own. And in fact the outcome is likely better. Since you have no vested biological interest, which comes with some genetic disposition to worry and control, what you can offer is complete acceptance of the child-person as they are without any desire to change them. I suppose you play the role of beloved aunt or beloved uncle.
You could help your coparent with observation and support but to expect them to parent in the same way as you is a hopeless task. Which isn’t to say anything has to be divisive but it will be different along biological lines.
Hmm that’s good to know. I found that really helpful to blog out.