“I did love him. He was my son. My little boy. But everytime I saw him I always wondered: What I did? What I said? What was the day that I did whatever I did to make him the way he was?”
Those words are spoken by Sophia on the Golden Girls after her son dies. Despite the son being described as a wonderful husband and father, Sophia is embarrassed that he enjoyed cross dressing. (You can click here if you’d like to watch the poignant 3 minute clip.)
In the 20 or more years since this episode aired, society (thankfully) has matured so the cross dressing storyline probably wouldn’t play out today the way that it did then. However, the theme of the episode - parents blaming themselves for the things their children (even their adult children) do - still holds true.
OlderTwin’s speech skills were delayed and he’s seen a speech therapist for several years, making tremendous progress. However, for some time, I often wondered, “What did I do wrong to cause this delay? Did I pay too much attention to YoungerTwin and not enough to OlderTwin?” Then, one day, I finally realized, OlderTwin’s speech delay wasn’t my fault. It wasn’t his fault, either. It wasn’t anybody’s fault. It’s just the way it was.
Likewise, whenever I read stories about kids who shoot up their high school or young men who kill and injure scores of people who are simply watching a movie, I immediately think of their parents and wonder if they blame themselves and ask the same questions that Sophia did. The one thing, however, that I don’t do is assume that these people were bad parents. As TheMommyPsychologist points out in a recent blog post, ”Perfectly loving, well intentioned parents can have a child who grows up to do terrible things.”
Parenting is stressful enough without convincing yourself that any one mistake or poor decision you make is going to result in your child having a speech delay or God forbid becoming the next Charles Manson. While it’s true that parents wield a great deal of influence over their children, so we shouldn’t take our roles lightly, it’s also good to remember that sometimes you can do everything right and the result will be far from perfect or ideal.
I encourage parents to relax. Enjoy your children. Do not overanalyze every situation with your child, replaying it a thousand times in your mind, wondering if you could or should have handled it differently. Or, maybe I’m the only one who does that?
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- dollywantacracker said: You make me feel so much better about my parenting. Everything you’ve gone through with OlderTwin makes me feel so much better about V and her speech delay. Seriously, I used to spend hours feeling guilty and crying, now I’m way more relaxed.
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- asimpledad said: Great Sharing. I had a very significant speech delay. I barely spoke at all, until I was about five. I am now a litigator. I talk all day, every day for a living and am pretty good at it. I am sure OlderTwin will be great.
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- bumbleeebeees said: Wonderfully said. I love the Golden Girls reference, too. That’s a great episode. I’m going to print this and frame it for reference in case Baby D becomes a delinquent.
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- punkdad said: This post has me crying, about a lot of things. I really wish I had a father like you growing up and even now. You make me so happy.
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- designingdaddy said: Agree, agree, agree. The part about relaxing is the most important. No way you can do a long-term good job if you are constantly on high alert!
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