Raise your hand if you’ve ever gone to counseling.
If you didn’t raise your hand, it’s not because your parents were perfect or that you actually have your schtuff together. You either didn’t raise your hand because: you’re lying; you didn’t hear the question; you were raised with strict religious, intellectual, or spiritual shaming messages that counseling is for the weak or faithless; or, it’s just that your parents probably didn’t believe in counseling because their parents didn’t believe in counseling because their parents didn’t believe in counseling, so, like a helluvalotta other things, they passed that belief onto you.
It’s not our faults. It’s theirs. It’s always “theirs.”
But every generation has the opportunity to write its own story…every generation, collectively and on individual scale, is responsible to make peace with the past and create a healthier today and tomorrow.
And if you’re a parent, one day, when your kids encounter conflict, especially if they’re off to college and possibly for the first time hear they’re actually designed with “critical-thinking,” all their problems will be because of you.
That’s right. It’ll be your fault…you’ll be the “them,” and that kind of sucks. But it doesn’t have to be all that bad!
So, how does one generation screw up the next? When are we going to start owning our schtuff long enough to see our part in the mess? And what can we do to deal with and let go of our schtuff in a healthy and timely fashion as not to project our sludge into the future generations but cheer them on to explore and do it differently and better than us?
Here are 31 Sure Fire Ways to Screw Up Your Kids, in no particular order:
- Know everything and make sure your kids believe you’re the authority on all the things.
- Shut down questions with, “Because I said so, that’s why…end of discussion.”
- Forget you were once a kid, of all the ages your kids are and will be one day.
- Believe you have nothing to learn from a kid, or anyone else, for that matter.
- Multi-task time with your kids with something you have to check off your to-do list.
- Never let your kids see you sad or disappointed or anything other than happy happy joy joy.
- Forget that you are figuring it out, too…all of it.
- Demand immediate submission and obedience.
- Believe, “Treat others the way you want to be treated,” is something kids need to memorize, but not something you have to live out in front of them.
- Do things because that’s just how you’ve always done them.
- Overcompensate for the lack of whatever thing you think your childhood was missing.
- Tell your kids HOW to believe and WHAT to believe in, and DEFINE what their faith should look like.
- Let your fear of death and eternity be your filter for everything.
- NEVER model authenticity or vulnerability…get yourself together, dude!
- Never tell them you are sorry, by God, you’re the freaking parent! Parent up, YO!
- Diet or “cleanse,” constantly exercise, own a scale and use it often, and pinch your muffin top in the mirror in front of them, but tell them they are beautiful.
- Tell them never to talk to strangers, and model the part where you don’t make eye contact with one.
- Demand perfection in every area, especially: manners, appearance, grades, performance, hygiene, human interactions.
- Use God as your scapegoat by cherry picking scriptures and whatever your pastor said, to back the way you’ve chosen to “discipline.”
- Abolish all empathy from your parenting game.
- Model intolerance, first for yourself, then especially for “others.”
- Live offended…of everything and everyone, especially when your kids think differently than you.
- Teach them to believe the worst about people.
- Use blanket statements, stereotypes, and generalizations when talking about people.
- Drive like you own the road and tell those people in the other cars just what you think of them, out loud.
- Make them eat their veggies, but you don’t have to since you did your time as a kid.
- Have people over only when your house is clean.
- Project onto your kids what you assume they are feeling, thinking, experiencing.
- Forget that the back of your phone and computer are today’s “Cat’s in the Cradle.”
- Tell them they have to pick a “real major” in college because you know it’ll financially help them in the long run, even if you hate your life, but have a padded bank account.
- When they come home from their first year of college and tell you they learned their family of origin is dysfunctional, tell them, “Hey, I put the ‘fun’ in dysfunctional.” And then change the subject and discount what they’re saying as stupid, 18-year old rebellious teenage stuff…cuz, what could they know, right?!
And this list could go on…
We’re all figuring it out. The point of every generation is to not only teach the next, but to learn from them, too…not hold on for dear life to the lessons of those who have gone before them. Our great greats and greats and grandparents and parents did a lot of things right, and they also had some things wrong, big and small. Same with us. And same with the next. It’s not rebellious to do it differently when hate or ignorance isn’t sustainable.
Let’s posture ourselves for learning and see what happens.