“All parents damage their children. It cannot be helped. Youth, like pristine glass, absorbs the prints of its handlers. Some parents smudge, others crack, a few shatter childhood completely into jagged little pieces, beyond repair.” [i]


I would add that some parents try to overprotect childhood and keep the glass in the case, never exposing it to the use it was intended for. To err is human. To parent is to err. No parent is perfect. You do too much of one thing or not enough of the other. Most parents “err” by trying to correct the errors of their own parents. My parents were too X. I will never be too X. I will always be Y. My children won’t have to grow up with all that X.[ii] Well guess what. Too much Y isn’t any better, just different. The problem is that we all are prone to this error of correcting for what we lacked. Other parents may try to live up to the ideal that they remember their parents setting. This can be just as difficult and problematic.

If you parent based on what you had and what you didn’t have, you are missing out on some important information, like what your teen is telling you she wants and needs. What you needed, liked, or missed out on, is not necessarily what she will need. She is not you. The problem is that parents tend to look at their parenting skills relative (no pun intended) to their own experiences as children. Compared to the X I grew up with, the Y is much better. Or conversely, I loved growing up with A, so I will always give my child A.

Your teen doesn’t have that point of comparison. She only has you. And you can’t be everything to her all the time. And even that would be “wrong.” There is always something to blame, because part of growing up is blaming your parents for all the wrongs in the world and then forgiving them.


[i] Mitch Albom, The Five People you Meet in Heaven (New York: Hyperion, 2003), 104.


[ii] As with the post Why do my kids pick up my worst habits, this section also raises the debate of nature versus nurture. For more information, refer back to that section and its endnotes.



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