I have been personally struggling with the idea of parenting — an odd thing for an author to say who has spent years researching and writing about paganism and families.
My friend Katie Thackrey recently posted on Facebook, “Expectations are premeditated resentments.” I love this sentiment. As I began to apply this to my own child, a world of revelations opened up to me. Recently, my son asserted that the way in which education was being presented to him at his current high school was not meeting his needs. To be fair, I would say that there are multiple reasons for this assertion. However, my son brought printed pages of alternative schooling opportunities that he thought would be better.
After talking with professionals, having an evaluation done, and visiting some of the alternative schooling available, I withdrew my sixteen-year-old from school this semester. He will re-enroll at the end of May in an online credit recovery program to make up some poor grades and improve his GPA. We are enrolling him in a Charter School which we have all agreed to try for one semester. If that proves unsatisfactory, then we will transition him into fulltime online home schooling.
As pagan parents, I firmly believe we should diligently plant and harvest individuality in our children. We want to compensate for the failings in our own childhoods and develop children who have compassion, empathy, love of the earth, and a feeling of responsibility to be assets to the greater community, independently minded, and stalwart protectors and part of the Family Coven.
Given my recent challenges in parenting, I would like to destroy some myths about parenting in general.
Good Kids Are Defined by Society
Screw that. My boy is a great, awesome, wonderful teenage boy. When I meet adults who spend significant time with him they have nothing but the highest praise for him. When I check on his posts on his Facebook, I watch him diplomatically and lovingly accepting others’ opinions. He is smart, wicked smart. He can look at math problems and solve them in his head – long problems I have to think through. He is open minded, if a little shy to give his affection. He is loyal. He doesn’t usually like kids his own age because he finds them “stupid” and “petty.”
However, society says my boy is successful if he gets great grades in school, is a success in extra-curricular activities, stays completely drug free forever, doesn’t drink underage ever, doesn’t get a girl pregnant but is sexually virile, isn’t a bully but can still lay someone out with a single punch, doesn’t cry or show emotions, is spiritual but not spiritual in some pansy ass way, is straight, wears specific clothing and is involved in gender acceptable hobbies, doesn’t kill people but defends people when necessary, and doesn’t have any illnesses, including depression, anxiety or ADHD.
None of these things reflects my moral and spiritual values. None of these things do I hold up as some litmus test as to whether or not my child is a good kid. So if society identifies any of these bench marks as lacking in my child, why would I ever care?
Good Kids Are Defined by the Parents
I do, however, have clear beliefs of rightness and wrongness. There are things that I think “good” kids should do and shouldn’t do. When my boy was young and I read him his favorite book, my visions of his teenage years were so far from reality that I have had some serious readjustment to accomplish. The biggest accomplishment is this. I have had to self-define my own absolutes when it comes to my son. None of this has anything to do with my son. It is all me.
The absolutes I have come to are:
1. I will love my son even if he is an ax murderer. I will turn him into the police and I will love him. I will work to minimize the damage he causes and I will love him.
2. Even if my son becomes an atheist, I will not interfere through prayer or magical working. The spiritual path he chooses or does not chose is an absolute right of his, his alone.
3. Only my son can define what success will be for him. I can help him by showing him different types of success, different ways to gain success; however, ultimately, he may find that success is living off the grid in Alaska homesteading. I wouldn’t be happy about the travel to see him; however, what his definition of success does to me is not at issue. What is at issue is his ability to care of himself and find success on his own terms.
4. He and I are not likely to agree for the next ten years. I have to discipline my conversations with him and sometimes the only thing I can give him is, “I love you and hear you. Additionally, you have not had this experience (being married, managing a household budget, working a job) so I don’t think we can really discuss this issue anymore.”
5. My job is to help my son articulate how he identifies success and then facilitate his achievement of that success.
I have had to accept that my expectations of my son are setting up resentment in our relationship. The more I release what I expect of him, the more likely our relationship is to strengthen and my child will develop into my greatest hope for him: a healthy, loved, mentally and emotionally secure person who can easily provide for himself and any family of any type he chooses to create.
Bad Kids Never Come from Good Parents
Although I do have a good kid, if not necessarily as defined by society, there are plenty of good parents who did everything they could and ended up with adults who break the law and injure themselves and others. There are children and parents who are born with life lessons to learn, which creates a situation where even the most stable and secure household still produces a sociopath.
It is a mystery of science and the universe. What we can do is not treat families as a unit when it is clear one part of that unit has deviated from the norm. Parents who have difficult children struggle and worry and grieve deep down every day. They do not need any assistance from a peanut gallery who is so sure that they know better because they are lucky enough to have a child who didn’t shoot up a school or eat the neighbors.
Expectations are Premeditated Resentments
Mostly through these past few weeks, I have learned that my expectations of my child breeds a contempt in my heart that blocks the flow of love my child deserves. As I release any expectations I have for him, he is empowered to become himself. I have found as he reveals who he really is to himself and me, it exceeds any expectation I could have ever had for him.
Birthing Hereditary Witchcraft is published on alternate Mondays. Subscribe via RSS or e-mail!