Dear Kid: What To Do When I Screw You Up

Dear Kid,

I really like you.  You are seriously, absolutely, positively, my most favorite part of this earthly existence.  But I'm going to mess you up.  I don't know how and I don't know when or how often (otherwise, duh, I wouldn't), but it will happen.  Something I do or say or teach you will clash and conflict with your unique little person.  Some of my bad habits will rub off on you before I'm able to correct them in myself.  I will get mad and say things I don't mean and they will stick with you for years.  All or some of this will happen, and you will carry this junk into adulthood.
 

I'm really sorry about that.

 

No excuses, I'm sorry.  But here's the thing - the second you appeared on this planet as a puffed-up, wide-eyed babe, my chances of screwing up a kid shot to 100%.  As a human, I had no chance of perfectly parenting you for 18 years.  We are 1/3 of the way there (sniff sniff) and I've already blown it a bunch.  

I'm sorry for all of the ways I have failed and for all of the ways I will fail.  But I am not sorry for trying.  The harder I try, the more I recognize where I fall short - it is the suckiest of balancing acts.  At the end of every day, especially those days where I blow it, I have to decide I am doing my best and I'll keep getting better.  I have to decide to trust in God to have you - I have to make peace with parenting you imperfectly.

This is what you will have to do too - make peace.  Or it is what I hope you will do.  I wasted some years down a "wah wah - whoa is me - why is everyone mean -why did I get the short end - whiny baby" road.  Maybe I needed to be there for a bit.  Maybe you will need it too.  Just don't stay there.

The sum of your life, your experiences, and your level of contentedness is not correlated to what happens to you.  All of the ways I screw up raising you will not determine the direction of your life.  Your reactions will determine this - how you choose to respond, how you choose to focus your thoughts, how you choose to relate to others.  

My actions might result in obstacles you have to overcome.  BUT you will have to choose whether to wallow in misery over the obstacle and be angry and bitter toward me/life in general OR work to overcome the obstacle and let it make you stronger.  You may have to choose to unlearn things I taught you.  You may have to confront me on things and I promise - if I'm living - I will do whatever I can to help you work through whatever comes up.

I will take full responsibility for my mistakes where I make them, but how you respond and react to them is on you. 

During these eighteen years, I hope I at least teach you this much:  

It doesn't matter how I, or anyone else in your life, may have failed you.  Our screw-ups might explain your screw-ups, but this explanation does not double as an excuse.  

YOU are responsible for YOU. You will screw stuff up just like I did - differently, but screw-ups just the same. Every time you do, you will have a choice - shirk responsibilities and blame others OR pick yourself up, learn something, and grow.  

Do the latter.

Love you <3 <3 <3