Monday, October 7, 2019

Musings upon parenting

I've recently been thinking about it a lot.  Parenting.  Whether I'm doing a good job at it. 

Truth is, I don't know.  I won't know until my children are adults. 

The proof is in whether or not they leave home.  I'm trying to give them all the skills they need to do exactly that.  I'm also trying my hardest to not cripple them. 

Currently, I'm trying to instill habits: study habits, household maintenance habits,* a work ethic...it's really hard, especially with really smart, strong willed children with cognitive abnormalities.** 

I will know I'm successful when they leave home, and have the skills to take care of themselves.

And that's take care of themselves.  Not take care of me.  Not take care of my siblings.  Take care of themselves.

I've got a whole host of examples of what not to do in pursuit of this.  I have the hardest part coming up: I have to let go.  I have to be willing to let them fail. 

Yes.  Exactly.

I have seen, recently, a teen repudiate parents who were trying to protect her.   Honestly?  I think the parents approached a lot of the issue in exactly the wrong manner for positive results, even if they were right. 

They are in the right by not allowing her to have "her" stuff.  Stuff that they bought for her.  She's denied her father and refused her name--in "public" on the book of faces.  Left the house with nothing but the clothes on her back, and the phone in her pocket.  No meds, nothing else she needed (her mistake).  Fine.  Her decision.  Her right. 

However, her parents have the right and responsibility to refuse to enable her in her stupidity. 

They do not have the right to cripple her with fear and guilt to keep baby right there under their wings, never to fly, but maybe to sing.  And they're not trying. 

Another family...ever hear of an enmeshed family?  It's codependence taken to a whole new level.  It's something that takes a healthy level of "selfishness" (i.e., self-preservation) to escape.  Yeah.  That's where I came from. 

When I managed to get out, I got out despite sabotage, tears, guilt trips, "but I worry about you because I love you!"  Among other mess.  At that time, my mother lived at the bottom of the driveway in a converted garage/machine shop, and my grandmother (suffering the mid-late stages of dementia) lived at the top of the driveway with an aunt that worked full time.  I did not have a photo ID, much less a drivers' license (and I was nineteen).  I managed to, in spite of the demands on me to help "take care of grandma," get the hell out, go to college, and meet my other half.  It was hard.  But I made it. 

Fast forward 21 years.  I'm still away.  My sister.  Isn't.  My grandma passed eleven years ago this coming Thanksgiving.  But now, that place is taken by my youngest aunt.  Who has brain-damage induced dementia, due to spousal abuse.  The other aunt?  Isn't just working full-time.  She's living with the middle aunt, who's got cancer.***

My aunt, the only one that worked full time, owns the property my mother still lives on.  She swears she's going to will it to my sister and one of our cousins.****

The result?  My sister is going crazy.  But.  Won't.  LEAVE.  Because "Isn't it the least I can do to help, since she's doing this for me?"

I...no.  Just...no. 

I've explained why I think this is a bad idea.  No, a BAD IDEA.  All caps. 

But they have her brainwashed and guilted into thinking that this is her duty. 

She has never left home.  She's never succeeded--she's been sabotaged, and worse.  Because where I was pushed and not permitted to give up by the woman who kept sabotaging me?  She learned.  She learned that, pushing me to get my high school diploma instead of letting me get out of school where the bullies tried frequently to get a reaction (they failed), she instead made it possible for me to find a way out. 

My sister?  Yeah, she let her be "homebound" with a district not willing to work with a homebound student.  She dropped out.  She never got her GED.  Yes, I have crippling social anxiety, too, but I managed.  I think she could, too, if our mother would push her into it. 

She has, after all, succeeded in driving.  But that's only because Mom pushed her because Mom has cataracts. 

I honestly do not think my family deserves to have my sister picking up all the slack and taking care of all of them.  They've failed her in a massively huge way. 

I quit enabling them long ago.  I do not give them money, I don't help them with bills.  I'll take food if they're that close to the edge, but...yeah.  I don't owe them anything, either, no matter the hinting, attempts at guilt trips, and wailing.  I just wish I could convince my sister that she's not helping them, and is only harming herself.  I wish I could convince her that they've failed her in almost every way possible. 

I really don't want to be that parent.  I don't want to be the parent that sabotages my kids in the name of keeping them my babies.  That's failure.  No, not on the kids' part. 

On mine.  As a parent.

So I push my kids.  They're in a damn good school that's moving at least two years faster than the better local public schools (and light years ahead of the bad ones).  I don't let them give up.  I don't let them half-ass the work.  They hate the homework, and they hate me for making them do it. 

But they'll have the advantage of having a habit of hard work when they get


*I never learned how to keep house.  It's only been recently that I've begun learning.  And I'm trying to teach the kids as I'm learning...which is really, really hard.  Especially while I'm still building my own habits.

**I don't count ADHD as a disability.  Nor even a handicap.  He's so very hyper-capable...of things he cares about.  The problem is the things he doesn't care about.  And in getting started on stuff he needs to do and wants to get done.  He's not, however, incapable.  

***Breast cancer.  And cancer in the lymph nodes behind her stomach.  Inoperable, that last.  And untreatable, because treatment will kill her with the state of health she's in.  So.  Really, it's sort of hospice.  

****Yeah, bad, bad, bad idea.  Sharing a property is a horrible idea, and is not going to work.  The way this is going to end up is with my sister homeless and helpless, after all is said and done--because she's got no options, and she's on SSI-Disability.  What's going to happen is that the place is going to have to be sold--at a massive loss, since there've been no repairs done for decades--and the money split...which is going to kick her cleanly off government assistance, with absolutely nothing to fall back on. 

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