Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Children need a responsible, not perfect, parent


A number of aspects that are clear in your question are very much in your favour. For example, you tell us that you have already managed to bring up a son who seems to be doing well.

You also say you have a good relationship with the girls and that all you now seek is to get closer even as you guide them spiritually.

You also seem like a person who has a high sense of self esteem and confidence because you would like your children to be brought up in the same way you were brought up.


Given all these, I see very little reason for you to worry about the girls. They have a good, experienced, God-fearing and confident parent who loves them dearly. You must be the dream parent for most teenage girls!

So what is the problem? Why is it that you feel inadequate as a parent? To reverse the question, what is wrong with you as a parent? In other words in what ways might you be failing your girls as a parent.
You confess to being “a conservative single parent”. Being conservative is not a bad thing but being unable to change with the demands of time might be.

Being a single parent is not a statement about being a good or a bad parent. Many parents are single by choice while the role is thrust on others by circumstances not of their choice.

You do not tell us how you became a single parent of three. Are you divorced, widowed or have never married? Did you become a single parent recently or have you been that way for many years?
Are you now in a relationship or have you decided to remain on your own? What is the nature of your support system for you and your children?

Are your parents alive? Do they live near you, and do you have brothers and sisters and if you do, do they live close by? Are your children close to their cousins, uncles and aunties?
You seem to be well grounded spiritually. What kind of church do you belong to and what is the nature of the support available to you and your children?

Do you have a fellowship group that you are close to and that can offer advice and guidance to you and your children?

What about the rest of your physical and psychological environment?

Are your friends available to you in regard to the issues that you raise? Are they people who would understand you when you tell them you would like the girls to “grow up the way you did?” or are they people you call friends but who do not know or understand your roots?

Where do you live, who are your neighbours, how do your neighbours affect the way you and your children live?
Are you in an area where their safety is always in danger?

As you can see, there are many sides to your question that must be taken into account before answering it and the reality is that at the end of the day, you will have to face yourself in the mirror and accept the fact that parenthood is both a privilege and a duty.

No parent is expected to be perfect. All you are expected to be is caring, loving, responsible and most of all available to the children not only physically but emotionally and psychologically as well.
In my clinical practice, I come across many parents who express genuine surprise that their children continue to do badly when they have been given everything!

A very rich parent of teenagers was shocked beyond words when his son run away from home and was found in a drunken state at the home of his friend where he had lived for several days.

He had left home because he felt his parents did not love him and he felt emotionally neglected.
His father described this as total nonsense. He loved him so much he had employed a driver, a cook and he had his own room, with a TV, unlimited video games and he could go on holidays whenever he wanted.
“What else can a child want?” he asked in genuine surprise. After all in his day he walked 10 kilometres to school, did not wear shoes until high school and he still made it.

I hope this story gives you a sense of the complexity of the question you raise

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