Finding a Parent’s Perspective

This means I'm older.Random Observation/Comment #215: I’ve written all of these entries with full awareness that my parents and my brother are the biggest fans of my writings.  Entries, like this one, are obvious ploys to show them that I’ve matured.  Well, I guess no matter how much I seek independence; I will always want them to be within my close group of personal advisors.

I have been very fortunate to have been brought up in a stable and happy family with only positive intentions towards my success.  I was sheltered at a young age, my friends were frequently screened, and my independence was maintained by a hovering, yet genuinely concerned, presence to insure that my foundation was soundly built.  Raised as a traditional Chinese boy, I always found it necessary to earn my parents’ trust.  Typical American ideas involving short cuts and reaping rewards by sneaking around the rules was unheard of in my upbringing.  For example, I was told that I needed to finish my homework before I could watch TV.  My thinking was straightforward and simple: I finished my homework quickly and then I got to watch TV.  On the other hand, I know plenty of friends who would just lie about finishing homework and then just watch TV anyway.  I don’t think it was the case that I wasn’t clever enough to use the concept of lying, but instead, I valued the trust with my parents and continually strived for their affection and approval.

Their praises were few and far between, but when I saw proud parents, I, too, became that much happier.  It made sense because our goals were one and the same.  I was motivated by the constant push and they motivated me because I (and my brother) was their largest projects.  It’s that unconditional love for something that I have not yet to understand.  If you’ve dedicated your life to a complicated project for the past 23 years, and you know you will be there for it moving forward as long as you live, I don’t understand how you could imagine doing anything to harm them.  It is under this logic that I will always value my parents’ judgment (as long as they maintain their sanity).  They may be out of touch with the newest trends and next generation technology, but I’m sure they know a lot more about struggling, suffering, and happiness than I can ever imagine.   Although they may not know too much about the path I’m walking, their experience is worth the listen and their stories can help make the path ahead more predictable.

So when I sometimes fabricate exciting stories to cover some of the malicious happenings in my life, I wonder how highly my parents think my levels of deceit have progressed to sift through fact and fiction.  Do they automatically consider my believable activities magnified or would they realize that sometimes there are just boring days?  With full awareness of this back and forth game, I actually expect my parents to find the clues of inconsistency I carefully scatter.  It keeps all of us on our toes treating every night as a mystery.  I guess they would be happy to know that I’m alive and well, but I’ve always sensed that parents have always (and will always be) nosy about their child’s life.

For example, if I owned a puppy (let’s call him William Jefferson), I would probably always want to know where he was and what he was doing to make sure that he would be healthy and happy.  The truth is, as children, we’re not a cute fluffy poof-ball like Willy, and we do have the ability to learn our own ways of doing things.  We all search for independence, and we all want some sort of control over our own lives to make sense of it.

There are plenty of parenting books out there teaching parents how to raise a child the “right way,” but I think it should start much earlier.  Although children shouldn’t be burdened with the responsibility expected from an adult, it is necessary for them to peer into the future.  I think once they do, they’ll realize how sweet a life of dependence could be.  If it wasn’t for the increase of hormones during our teenage years and odd urge to fit in, I think we all could have been really happy doing things that make us happy.  If we realized how insignificant high school was for a social stature and how everyone basically starts over in college, we would have just lived.  How long has it been since you’ve read a book for leisure? How long has it been since you’ve sat down with your whole family at dinner? There are so many little pleasures that we miss as we grow older…

I will write a separate entry listing the things I wish I knew when I was younger, but there is one fact that changed my perspective on my parents: Parents are people too.  Parents were our age doing the same things we were doing – they’re just a little older and burdened with more important things like maintaining the necessities of living.  More importantly, parents also have parents and they don’t know the next phase.  Honestly, I think they’re terrified thinking about how things could have been different.  It only makes sense that as we grow older, there’s more time for us to make some mistakes.  Did we raise good children? Are we being as good to our parents as we like to be treated when we’re their age?

Either way, it’s never too late to pick up the phone.  If we all just tried to make someone happy then we’d all be happier.   Thank you for the wonderful childhood. I think you need to write down some guidelines for parenting.

~See Lemons Think Older

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