“Parenting can be a sad and difficult task sometimes but once you give birth to a child you cannot give up on them” Maxine Grey on Judging Amy
Funny how being at home sick, watching telly you can hear something that strikes such a chord with you. In the last few years I have met some lovely young people, some of whom are having problems at home, some of those problems are extreme enough that the child no longer lives at home. I had a parent front up to my home once about a week after her daughter moved in looking for “some of her stuff”, I just wanted to ask “but what about your 16 year old who is now living here?”. This woman had never met me, did not enter into any discussion apart from a tale of her shoes falling apart on the walk to my house. I don’t want to judge any parent though, I faced a subtle pressure for years about my eldest and when it would be appropriate for him to no longer live with us. Some parents feel perhaps that there is a time limit and once you reach 16, 18, 23, whatever your job as a parent is done is done and no further support is given. I don’t have answers, just the comment from my eldest that “not all families are as awesome as we are”. Bless.
I follow an inspirational blog called Momastery by Glennon Melton (http://momastery.com/blog/) who has shown me that above all love is the winning factor, the life changing emotion that transforms the mundane to the supercharged positive in life. A recent blog of hers talked about building nets for those around you in need. She spoke in such a brutally honest and open way about her experiences in college where her sense of self worth was at rock bottom and how she felt that no one, no adult saw her drowning and her commitment now to be a net builder for those who feel life is beyond their control.
In the eyes of the world I am no one special, I am treasured and loved by a circle of family and friends whom I love and treasure in return.
To two young adults I am a parent. I loved the babies then and delight in the young adults now and relished all moments in between. I have realised lately that I have either built nets or helped them build their nets. They welcome in those who need help and trust that the love shown to them will be shown to others in need. May I always honour that trust. They are now net builders. Jeremy has always been a crusader, offering a shoulder, a meal, or a home to those in need. Today he spent an hour with the school counselor discussing incorporating the Safe Schools Coalition Victoria into his high school, always the ambassador for a safe place for young GLBTI people to be themselves. Luke’s net building has been far more local in it’s development but just as supportive within his tight knit cohort.
So it spreads and spreads. Until I read Glennon’s blog I didn’t realise what we had done, I had led by the example set by my parents who built nets for young people that came in and out of our lives. Forty years later some of those who needed help still knock on the door and seek love and counsel and always receive it. I see that generosity of spirit reflected in my children and it brings me such joy even if it does stretch our limited material resources on occasion.
So, if as a parent you are facing truths about your child that are challenging and feel you can’t cope – you can, in the words of Glennon you can do hard things. Your love for your children is stronger than you know and when tested you will find that it is stronger than steel. If you are a young person struggling with your sexuality, academic decisions, body image, substance dependence or abuse or anything that causes you distress and you want to break free, please reach out. If your parents can’t be net builders for you, and there are sometimes very real reasons why they can’t, then there are some many avenues for help. Maybe start with a friend, if he or she is anything like Jeremy you may find a net built around you before you can say “help”. There will be no judgement, or derision, just acceptance and love.