Another gem from guest blogger Hollie Grimaldi Flores.
I often hear people say that parenting is the toughest job there is. I tend to agree, but I can’t help but think—is it really a job? There are no vacation days. You can’t accrue sick time. The hours are horrendous. It’s not like you get to quit being a parent, or simply stop showing up. Well, maybe… technically…you can, but that is depressing to think about.
In my opinion, being a good parent is the toughest job there is. Still, there is no pay, no cost of living increase, no retirement package. It is often thankless and fraught with decades of worry and angst. I have wondered, more than once, why people continue to do it. Why do people continue to procreate?
Sorry, folks. No guarantees.
The reality is that even being a good parent does not come with any guarantees. In fact, I know plenty of parents who read the books, did the work, showed up, cared for, attended, coached, and supported their child to the very best of their ability, and still the child grew up to be not so great. All those years of thoughtful child-rearing still led to stress, heartbreak, and disappointment. The hopes and dreams for the baby they once held in their arms, shattered.
On the flip side, I hear stories of young people who had parents who were barely present beyond conception—who did not do the work, were not there, did not care for, attend, coach, or support. In many cases, they were actually a hindrance to their children’s upbringing, yet the kids turned out to be great humans. They excelled in school, were active in the community, and strived for greatness in spite of the lack of parental guidance. It almost feels like a roll of the dice.
I was talking to a woman recently who said she is not a parent on purpose. In reply, I shared that I am a parent by accident. She thought that was sad. This is not a secret in our family. I never really thought I would be a parent (for a number of reasons), but once the shock of the surprise wore off, I never looked back. I loved every bit of it—so much so that I opted for a second round. I was (and still am) fully devoted to raising my children. But they could not be more different.
Why are they like that?
My son and I often discuss the debate regarding nature and nurture. According to explorable.com, “One of the oldest arguments in the history of psychology is the Nature vs Nurture debate. Each of these sides [has] good points, [so] it’s really hard to decide whether a person’s development is predisposed in his DNA, or [if] a majority of it is influenced by his life experiences and his environment.”
Aside from gender, the differences I see in my offspring are hard to explain. The two of them are, and always have been, of a different disposition—with different interests, approaches to life, aspirations, and coping skills. I believe they came into the world this way—as part of their DNA (nature). But I realize their environment and experiences (nurture) have also played a part in who they are today.
When I remarried , I entered another realm of parenting. The role of step-parent ranks pretty high on the toughest-job-there-is scale. It is hard enough to love and raise your own offspring, but it takes a special kind of patience and devotion to raise the children of others. Sharing the children with another adult or set of adults comes with a breeding ground of difficulty. I see many people do it seemingly effortlessly, and I admire and applaud them. I was not those people. I admittedly struggled. I showed favoritism. I tried to overcompensate.
They are all grown now. Despite my shortcomings, they are, for the most part, doing just fine. Ultimately, we did the best we could with what we had. And I think most parents do the same. The reality is that when a child grows up to become a good and decent productive adult, it is not necessarily a reflection on the parenting they received. And visa versa. That is a hard pill to swallow.
We can only do our best and hope for the best. The adult children make their own decisions.
Following a career in broadcast and print media, Hollie Grimaldi Flores became a freelance writer. Originally from New York State, she has been in Northern California since 1985. She and her husband raised a blended family of six boys and one girl—now all grown. She is available for hire for ghostwriting, media content, and articles on a variety of topics. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.