“We support you.”
Those three words were all it took.
I saw my parents at a family party and they knew immediately something was wrong. I told them what was happening—I was going through something particularly difficult in my life—and I tried to act like a big girl that didn’t need her parents’ help. I gave them an update while inside, I was crying big heavy tears. My mom asked me what I was going to do and I said, “I don’t know.” She then told me something that I have hung onto more than anything they have ever said to me or done for me—and it’s been a lot—three words that I will never forget.
“We support you.” That’s all. “We support you and whatever decision you make.” Nothing about my situation had improved, there was nothing my parents could do to help, but at that moment, having their support and knowing they have my back made all the difference in the world.
I recently heard a lecture about “good enough” parenting. I love this concept and it’s my new mantra. Why is it that when our children have problems, we think it’s our problem? Why is it that we blame ourselves for everything that goes wrong? Why do we put this pressure on ourselves that we have to be perfect—or very close to it? Where does this come from?
The answer is we don’t know. The truth is we rarely “know.” Yes, some of the little things we can help with, we can guide, we can advise. But nobody has all the answers and certainly not to all the “bigger kid, bigger problems.”
That’s when we need to tell our kids, “We support you.” That’s when we hold hands, hug, eat a batch of cookies or a carton of ice cream and just listen. Our kids don’t want us to fix it, they just want to know that we are there for them, that we support them, that we have their backs—whether they’re a tantrum-ing three-year-old, or a 23-year-old dealing with the consequences of a bad decision.
We just need to hold them and let them know that their problems are not too big for us, their feelings don’t scare us, they don’t need to go to time out or be afraid to open up to us.
“We support you.”
At the end of the day, that’s all parenting needs to be. Loving our children, being there for them and supporting them. It’s not planning everything so that they are successful, it’s not getting them into the Ivy League or getting them an awesome job. It’s taking care of their basic needs, loving them and just being there.
Don’t beat yourself up if you aren’t having the most stellar parenting day. If your kids are alive and breathing asleep in their beds, I call it a win! No helicopters or lawnmowers necessary. Just some face-to-face time! We are good enough.
How do you deal with parenting failures? How did your parents support you or how do you wish they supported you?