Wisdom from the Recliner
How Not To Solve Your Kids’ Problems with Infinite Wisdom and Platitudes
Like most parents, being a parent is my favorite role in life — that is until it isn’t.
By nature, I’m a problem solver. Isn’t that a primary parental role? We pretend to have solutions to our kids' problems when actually, we’re winging it. Winging it is a specialty of mine.
When my then-teenaged offspring was dealing with a crisis of any kind I couldn’t help myself. I’d size up the situation, often without the benefit of insight from said offspring, and offer my best infinite wisdom, whether asked or not. Infinite wisdom that’s taken me years to accumulate and, if you ask me, should be heeded.
Of course, like every parent, I know that’s absurd.
I also know that sometimes we parents just don’t know what to say or do when our kids are hurting. That’s the worst. Watching your child slip into a depressive spiral and having no clue how to help. It’s those times when I wish I really did have Infinite Wisdom.
One especially troubling episode had my then-teenager spiraling hard into a depressed state. I was beside myself. How could I, the Mom, be so inept at finding the words to soothe my child through this?
I felt like a complete failure as a Mom. Clearly, my parenting skills sucked in the critical moments where they really counted.
After having exhausted my storehouse of Infinite Wisdom, including numerous annoying platitudes, I succumbed to my own depressive spiral. I retreated to the basement and proceeded to beat myself up for my unfit parenting. I was certain the intensity of my suffering needed to be of comparable magnitude or it was even more proof I sucked as a Mom.
I don’t remember how long I stayed in the basement sobbing my heart out. When I came upstairs I found the other parent handling this situation much differently. He was in his recliner, watching football having a beer.
I was angry. How dare he not be suffering alongside me when our child was clearly hurting?
He patiently listened as I chewed him out through my tears. After a long pause, this is what he said.
Has angsting and beating yourself up made anything better for either of you?
After my own long pause, all I could say was no…
So why are you doing it?
Sometimes wisdom blindsides you from the recliner.