With Keaton a few months away from graduation, and Cohen heading into eighth grade, I sometimes catch myself grading how well I think we’ve done as parents during these “nested” years; how well we’ve taught and equipped them for adulthood.
Sure, there’s still the rest of our lives for us to influence and impart wisdom, for both of them even, but I think Keaton being where she is makes it feel short. Which is how, the other night in bed, I laid and thought about what I wished we’d done better on.
I wish we’d done a better job fostering open communication between us and the kids, especially around subjects that aren’t easy parent/child topics. As adults I think Sharaun and I tend to discuss the hard and the messy stuff in private, and we probably didn’t set the example or establish the trust and openness required for the kind of radically candid parent/child communication dynamic I wish we had.
I wish we had given more and more useful advice on managing stress and disappointment. I wish we had sought to learn about and offer more tools than limiting ourselves to what we had to offer, which is limited to what we’ve personally developed through our own experiences.
I wish we had established a less-forgiving set of expectations around household participation and sense of ownership regarding household chores/upkeep. We’ve always been pretty lax with chores and the children’s overall role as contributing members of the family unit. We haven’t asked enough of the kids, haven’t held their household work to the same standards as we hold ourselves, and we aren’t consistent with consequences when the little we do ask isn’t done or isn’t done well. I worry that leads to laziness and entitlement when we could have taught teamwork and pride in well-done work.
Like I said, we’ve still got a lot (hopefully) of living left in this world, us and the kids both, with His favor – so these things aren’t yet missed opportunities we’ll go to the grave regretting, and it’s never too late to start working.
To work, then.