Do Parents Need to Meet Your Every Need
I recently got into a heavy discussion with a friend’s regarding her parents’ responsibility. This woman felt strongly that a mother and father should know their child’s needs and provide for it. I disagreed. How can your parents always anticipate what you are feeling and know what to do at that exact moment? Does being a parent automatically give you this insight and skill set?
First, let me define “needs” in the context of this conversation. These are not X-Boxes, trips to Europe, or extra rides on the merry-go-round. The “needs” we focused on related to emotional backing and support. Basically, knowing what to say, when to say it, and how to show love in the manner that the individual child requires. It is the parents always placing the child before themselves, compromising their own emotional well being in order to make their child feel loved and safe. It means possessing a keen sense that something is lacking, and then having the precise recipe to fill that void. This job description is quite a tall order, one which I know that I, as a parent, cannot begin to fulfill on a daily basis.
Maybe you’ve never considered it, but being a parent is the one “adult” thing you can do without a permit. Think about it. If you want to drive a car by yourself, you need to be 16 ½ and have a license. If you want to vote, you must be 18 and register with your local county. If you want to have a beer or glass of wine, you must be 21 and freely show your ID upon request. And, if you want to get married, you need to have a marriage license. But what if you want to have a child? What age must you be, and what paper must you acquire?
We all know that having a baby is not confined to a minimum age and necessitates permission from no one. Most women have the ability to conceive at any time between puberty and menopause. That is why babies have babies in our world…because they can. There are no prerequisites, exams, or qualifications that need to be met. You just need to wait nine months, and voila, the infant is yours.
Luckily, the majority of us have parents who chose to have us and who possess the necessary intellectual, emotional, and financial abilities to “properly” raise a child. But what does that look like? In reality, every parent and parenting style is different. There are multiple philosophies out there. Do we parent as we were parented? Are we permissive, or do we set firm boundaries? As far as I can tell, there is no perfect formula. If there were, everyone would buy that book!
The truth is, parents do their best. They try, make mistakes, mess up, try again, smile, laugh, cry, doubt, and maybe even get angry. Parents heal, and they cause pain. They smother, and they set free. It is who they are and what they do.
But let’s return to the question… can and should parents be held responsible for providing for their children’s needs?
Ideally, they would, but I do not believe that is possible. I think it all starts with intent. If parents intend to do their best to help their children grow into loving, happy, contributors to society, then, yes, they are doing their jobs. Although many parents are intuitive, they are not clairvoyant and cannot always sense when a child is hurting. Parents get distracted and sometimes aren’t on their “A” game. They become tired, perhaps resentful of the demands of parenting, though they love their children no less. Parents get hurt and get scared. They are human.
“It takes a village” is a famous saying. And, it is so true. Raising healthy kids requires more than just the baby’s parents…they need grandparents, relatives, friends, teachers, pastors, and caring adults who have their backs when parents can’t. It is a team effort.
So the next time you think that your parents should have known what you needed, take a step back. Realize that they love you and want to meet your needs, but sometimes life gets in the way, they are late for work, or they are just tired. If you need something, tell them. I bet that they’ll come through.