“Parents can only give good advice or put them on the right paths, but the final forming of a person’s character lies in their own hands.”
– Anne Frank
Everything your parents did or didn’t do for you is a gift. Why?
The sooner you realize your parents weren’t born to be your everything the sooner you will begin to look beyond them and begin building a community.
I’ve met people who were so disempowered by parents who wanted to be their one stop shop that they virtually imploded upon leaving home for the first time. One key reason is because they didn’t consider other people to be resources.
It took me becoming a father to learn the value of having a father who wasn’t there for me growing up. My dad has always been there in crisis situations but on a day to day basis my siblings and I might as well have not existed. He isn’t a bad person he simply failed to move beyond what was modeled for him by his father.
I was resentful for decades over his seeming emotional apathy and I had a well crafted victim story that I somehow felt entitled to.
Then I had my own boys and knew immediately I needed to do it better than I received it instead of hiding behind the “that’s how I was raised” cop out.
First I needed to realize that my history was not my destiny nor was my father my only role model. The first role models I reflected upon were my teachers. The ones who really knew how to listen, be patient and guide me.
The next people I looked to were peers who already had children. I watched how they interacted with their own children and when I saw something I liked I asked for guidance.
Its too easy to blame our parents for being imperfect and not being the superheroes we thought they were when we were little.
It takes an olympic stroke of maturity to realize that their imperfections are as great a gift to you as their strengths. It is the needs you have that they are unable to meet that require you to explore the world for other people who can meet them. To discover the larger world that will support you when they’re gone.
Isn’t that one of the primary responsibilities of a parent? To prepare your child for your inevitable absence.
So I can say this confidently to my parents. Thank you for everything that you are and are not. Though you weren’t the parents I thought I wanted, you were exactly the parents it turns out I needed.
Thanks for being you.
About the Author:
Brian R. King LCSW is a 25-year cancer survivor, adult with Dyslexia, ADHD, and Asperger’s. He’s also the father of three sons on the autism spectrum. He is known worldwide for his books and highly engaging presentations that teach the power of connection and collaboration. His strategies empower others to overcome their differences so they can build powerful and lasting partnerships. His motto is: We’re all in this together.