Saturday, June 11, 2016

Parenting Questions, Trust and Honesty (Attempt at Self-Therapy).

Hello, dear friends,
Today I have a day off, - a day to relax, think and feel whatever I want, do (almost) what I want, without being rushed.
During the past week, I finished a stitching project and started a new one. (Sorry, no pictures at this time). Went on the "work-home- stuff to do-things to clean- things to stitch" merry-go-around. Today is the day I can get off and reclaim some of myself.

I am sitting here, thinking that I need a strong cup of tea - possibly with milk - and wondering: am I a good parent? My partner of 13 years "dropped" this on me (about our separation), and it stuck: "As for the kids being happy, yeah, they're happy, no more of having rules, mom turned into their best friend, I am sure it will all turn out fine, unless one day you actually make them be responsible for something."

While my first reaction was to consider the source - look who's talking, some example of stellar parenting, look at your own sons etc., etc.... But - it did bring up one question: am I a good parent - or not? How do I know?

In the past four months, I had to say "no" more times than I said "yes" to my daughters, and often they got upset. They are teenagers, and teenagers don't like to hear the word "no." Well, nobody does, really. But adults - hopefully - have the strength and the skills to control their emotions, while teenagers often show you all they've got - all the upset, anger, disappointment - and all the other negative feelings they have had stored, and you get to be the unfortunate recipient of all that garbage - because you said no. Surprisingly, I have had strength enough (sometimes barely) to deal with those tantrums. I was strong and unwavering: "No, you cannot get a new dress. No, there will be no going to any sleepover until after the chores are done, the laundry is put away, the homework is finished..."

Yet, at times I said "yes." Yes, you can walk home with a friend. Yes, you can stay after school for practice. Yes, we can go out to Subway - at the end of the week... And occasionally, I even changed my "no" to a "yes" - because the chores actually got done...

But parenting is not just the list of "yes" and "no" answers, is it? Things could look wonderful and perfect (or near perfect) on the outside, and yet there still would be problems...  Just look at Mia from "Californication" : a perfectly well-behaved 16 year old girl, a respectful daughter- who also happens to be... a slut and a manipulator. Yet, her father is blissfully unaware.

I know that my daughters are far from perfect. I am aware that one of them is arrogant, the other could be lazy. But it is up to me to stay alert and to notice when these "bad" qualities rare their heads - and point it out to each one of them as effectively as possible. Does it work? I can only hope. Just like I can only hope that I am doing a decent job at this whole "parenting" thing. In the end, time will tell. Some five, six, or ten years from now, when I look at my daughters, I will get my answer - probably in a single moment. Until then, I will have to wait for that moment as patiently as I can, and do the best job as I can.

One thing I have (I believe) on my side is honesty: I have never knowingly lied to my children. And in return, they don't lie to me. OK, they lie - about things like feeling sick so they can skip school, - but not about the big, important things. (Right now I am thinking - boy I wish that what I am writing is actually true, and not my own delusion). Well, at the very least - I know they trust me with real problems. There have been times when one or the other - or both of them - came to me for advice when they did not know what to do, how to handle things, or "just to talk" (which usually means the problem is bigger than just "what to do" and may require a few cups of tea with cookies - just to start discussing). I think - I believe - this trust between us is the direct result of mutual honesty.

This, of course, does not mean that I am certain of anything, or know what I am doing, or "permanently comfortable" with my decisions or actions. Every decision involves questions, doubts, and often - after making it - the "after"-doubts: did I make this one right? Could I do it better? I try my best to be honest with myself, so that when I do make a mistake, next time - hopefully - I can avoid it.

This brings me to the (hopefully) last topic of this post - trust. Trust is built on honesty like a house built on a foundation. If there is no honesty - there will be no trust. There may be an illusion of it, but the truth eventually comes out, lies get exposed - and the whole house crumbles and falls apart - and then you discover that there is no foundation, - there is no honesty. So, when my partner says, "I know I lied in the past, but trust me, I will not do it again!" - I can't. In fact, I can't even process it. How can you demand that I just build this "house" of trust with no foundation? It's just not possible.

Honesty - with others and with oneself - is the most important quality of them all. Being honest with myself - for me- means knowing what the truth is - and being able to face it, admit it, say it to myself. If I am not honest with myself, how do I even know what is the truth - and what is not? So, when someone says to me, "I lied to myself for the past (x-number of) years, but I want you to trust me, because I am getting better" - I think, "I am glad that you are starting to work on that, but if you have been lying to yourself for so long, how do you even know when you are telling the truth?" In this state of mind (I suspect), one is capable of believing anything: if one believes it, it must be the truth. And if one chooses not to believe it - then poof! - it never even existed. Magic...

Trust is the direct result of honesty. There are people out there that I do not particularly like, but I would trust them with my life - because they have always been honest with me. Then again, there are people I may like very much, but as much as I like them, I know not to trust them - because they lied.

Now that I have typed my brains out, it's time for a cup of tea...

Until next time,


  1. Ah parenting. Such a difficult but wonderful time, that we learn on the job:-) We survived despite our mistakes, and our good choices, as did our children--all grown now, leading productive, competent, good lives.

    Katya, thanks for the ongoing reflection about your own struggles and successes with parenting.

    I agree with you that honesty, care, trust, and quality attention are the very center of parenting.

    Now we are grandparents, trying to do even better at grandparenting:-)

    1. Hello, Daniel,
      Thank you for your comment. It must be a rewarding experience to see the results of your good parenting right before your eyes - and to enjoy the "next chapter".


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