I am finally settling into summer. (If one more person says it is almost over, I’m going to lose it.) This summer, I am making time to read. My first book of the season is Breaking Night, by Elizabeth Murray. It is a memoir about a woman who makes it through a horrific childhood, essentially raising herself while her parents are getting high, ends up homeless, and then somehow through hope and will, ends up at Harvard. I am just getting to the hopeful part, but even with about 100 pages left to go, I can confidently recommend it. If nothing else, it will provide you with two valuable lessons.
Your kids have it pretty good. You may not be able to send them on European vacations, buy them the latest new tech or fulfill their every desire, but unless they are working for money for to buy you your next fix at the age of six, comparatively, they are Richie Rich.
Your children will love you no matter what. Throughout it all, throughout the hunger, homelessness, cold and fear, Murray loved her mother. When her mother was dirty and sick and incomprehensible, Murray reversed the roles and took care of her. Her mother did what most of us would find unforgivable. She neglected her children, yet Murray forgave her, instantly and lastingly. Today, we too often worry our children will like us. We, either subconsciously or knowingly, worry our restrictions, our provisions or our choices will cause us to fall out of favor. Parents make decisions not on what is best for their child, but what they think is best for their relationship with their child. It is a mistake, and has led to the type of permissive parenting that has left the next generation ill-equipped to deal with life’s responsibilities. Liz Murray’s journey is proof that if our children know we love them, they will love us back unconditionally. So, the next time they say you are unfair, uncool or unreasonable, tell them tough. It could be worse. You could be selling their coat to buy crack.