On the "heavy" side...
Life is full of causes and ensuing effects. Pretty much whatever we do, it affects somebody else. But in few instances do our actions affect others as they do in parenting. As parents, most of us become hyper-aware of everything we say and do, and worry over every. damn. thing. (which is natural--and probably good, in the end, for the kids) Notice I said "most of us".
We've watched American Chopper for a long time, although we seemed to have missed a year of it somewhere, in which Paul Sr. fired his son, Paul Jr. from the shop. It was fun to watch the two of them bicker back and forth (honestly, I watched for the drama as much as for the bikes). But at some point, the fighting took an ugly turn, and eventually became rivalry--Jr. now has his own shop, not far from Sr.'s, and they're in stiff competition. Watching an episode last night, I couldn't help but draw parallels to some situations of people I know. In the process of firing his older son and suing him to force him to sell his share of OCC, Paul Sr. has also alienated his younger son, Mike. Or so he thinks. What really shook me up, listening to Sr. talk, is how he really thinks all his sons are upset with him for is present-day tiffs. He doesn't have a clue that they both resent him for being a bad parent during their childhoods. For not being around, and I strongly suspect even if he was around, he was partying his butt off, because he rather has the look and attitude of a wild partier about him, not to mention a healthy dose of me-itis. Sr. seems to think, since he spent time with his offspring as adults, all of his misdemeanors from their childhood were forgotten.
He's so wrong, though. Those boys (like many "kids") have a better picture now of what they were robbed of during their youth. The capacity of a child to love unconditionally is incredible. But when you get to the core of it all--does a child really have a choice but to love his mom and dad, even if they are off running around and putting themselves first, even if they're pounding alcohol and illegal substances into their bodies and then being mean as hell when they do come around? It's a survival tactic for human children. They have to stick by their caregivers. But when they grow up... that vital "attachment" falls away. When they get old enough to understand just how they've been treated, and they can take care of themselves... the gloves come off. And sadly for the parent, they can change their lives, regret, apologize, apologize again, and guess what? Their kids don't have to forgive them. If they want to for themselves, they can. But they'll never, ever forget. Some things just can't be taken back.
Sr. thinks Mikey is upset with him over the recent feud with Jr. (He tried to arrange a lunch meeting with Mikey, who never showed up.) He has no clue that Mike is holding the entire past against him. I wonder if he'll ever really "get it"? Some people seem unable to put others first--even their kids. And some people just take a very long time to mature, and would love to "do over" their kids' childhood. It's impossible to know whether they'd really make better choices a 2nd time, though. And the bottom line is, their kids don't have to give them the benefit of the doubt. Or the time of day...
So that's my sobering take: Let your kids know you love them while they are kids, and maybe when they are adults they'll believe it. :)