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by Kenzie
Rated: ASR · Article · Parenting · #516797
How can we really judge them, for we haven't walked in their shoes.
Judging Parents
By Marilyn Mackenzie
September 9, 2002

book and glasses

Many young people get perturbed at their parents’ decisions about dating, music, money, and even religious issues. Fortunately, as we age and develop wisdom, as we learn more about the world around us, our understanding of our parents and our own childhood is clarified. We begin to understand the decisions our parents made. Even if we still don’t fully agree with those decisions, we often realize that we were not privy to all of the information they had. We realize that we cannot travel back in time to experience the emotions of the time. If we have gained maturity and wisdom ourselves, we usually understand that they were probably acting in the best interest of their families.

Once we have children of our own, we also understand the fact that children do not come with instruction manuals. Although there are numerous books about child rearing, the authors often contradict each other. The art of family development is not a subject taught in schools. Actually, perhaps all the books in the world wouldn’t really help, for the make up of each family is distinctly different given the individuals involved, their personalities, and the way those personalities blend or conflict with each other.

It’s a fun thing to be able to smile and accept what our parents did for us. It’s a joy to realize that their love was the guide, through the calm and stormy relationships making up our families.

What’s sad, though, is the fact that some never do accept or forgive their parents for what they deem as failures of their parents in child rearing or family relationship issues.

One individual I knew comes to mind. She was one of six children raised during the Depression years. Of the six, she was the only one who was resentful of her parents for being poor. She wished her parents had known about contraceptives, even though if they’d known and practiced what she believed would have been smarter family planning, the siblings she claimed to love might have never been conceived.

Sadly, this individual went about life trying to make up for what she remembered as the most horrible childhood any individual could have. She married the first smart, ambitious man she could find and set out to help him achieve greatness. In her mind, greatness and success were measured in wealth, and of the six children, her family was, indeed the most materially successful. But she was never a happy individual. She was eternally bitter about having been raised in a poor home and often wished she’d been born to different parents, even to the day she died.

The other five siblings achieved comfort in their lives. They married because of love, not potential earnings. And because their minds and hearts were more concerned with copying their parents, in terms of the love they gave their children, they were much happier individuals.

My own parents made some decisions that I was none too pleased about when they occurred. My youngest sister was born when I was thirteen years old. My parents already had three children, myself, a thirteen-year-old, my brother, who was nine and my sister, age seven. They thought their family was complete, and had built a new home for that completed family. When my baby sister was born, the home my parents had built was not big enough, and we moved from the suburbs where I’d lived all of my life, to the city.

For thirteen years, I’d lived in an area of white, middle and upper class families. Our schools were wonderful, with the majority of students studying to attend college. As I was ready to attend high school, we moved into a neighborhood that was racially and economically mixed. The high school I attended consisted of only 60% white students, and only 15% of the kids in my new school were destined for college. What a change that was!

Next to our house in the city was a park, where drug activities were rampant. A young man died of a drug overdose in the alley behind our home. Our home became a stakeout for the local police to try to catch drug dealers. And police cars followed me home from school, concerned for my safety. What a difference that was!

Years later, though, when my mother commented that she was sorry about what she and my dad had put me through in high school because of their decisions, I told her that I appreciated what they had done for me. I thanked my parents for giving me an education about life that I would have never had, had we stayed in our comfortable, sheltered lives in the suburbs.

I could have certainly been bitter about the changes that had been made to my life in high school. I could have blamed my parents for decisions they made on my behalf. But, I realized that I could never travel back in time to be a part of their decision process. I could not fully understand all that went into their decisions for our family. I did know one thing, though. My parents loved each other and each of their children and would have never put us in harm’s way on purpose.

It pains me when adult children bemoan their childhoods and criticize the decisions of their parents. If love was a part of our childhood, then we were, indeed, blessed.

People make mistakes, even parents. Perhaps the only real instruction manuals available to us are the childhoods and lives of those who have gone before us. But it’s important that we learn to read those pasts correctly. If we are also parents, then while learning from our pasts, we mustn’t carry bitterness with us in our new families. If material possessions were missing in our childhoods, we mustn’t make acquiring “things” the theme of our lives. Rather, we should, we must copy the love that existed in our childhood, for that is the only legacy that matters.


Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go; and when he is old, he will not depart from it. KJV
© Copyright 2002 Kenzie (kenzie at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.
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