Even Therapists Need a Job

Purposeful Parent Tip:  You will make many mistakes while parenting
your children. They are not fatal.

Many people have heard me say when I refer to the parenting of my children that I will either pay for college or pay for therapy. It’s likely I will pay for both unfortunately. The point is, I recognize that I am far from perfect and will likely screw up my kids in one way or another as most parents (unintentionally) do.

When my children were born and the days following their births, I had grand ideas of their tenure with me on this earth. After a while, those ideas got a bit watered down when I realized that those grand ideas had to be coupled with a full-time job, pursuing an MBA, and eventually, getting a divorce. Not so grand anymore.

Today I still hold on to the hope that I will be able to fulfill some of my original ideas. Like the one about making sure my children can talk to me about anything. Or the one where I promised that I’d help them figure out their gifts and passions so they wouldn’t waste their lives on the wrong ones. Or the one where I’d be there for them if they ever needed me.

Ok, those probably aren’t that grand. All parents have these goals. I would agree. But delivering on them in the face of adverse conditions is another story. Like when your child accidentally breaks a household item and because you had a bad day, you scolded him or her a bit too harshly. Hmmm – doesn’t exactly make them want to tell you everything. Or the times when I had meetings or appointments that couldn’t be rescheduled. Am I really there for them always?

In looking back over the past 14 plus years of parenting my children, I’ve done a lot right. But I’ve made a myriad of mistakes – some of which I can’t undo or change. Many of the behaviors my children have are a direct result of the way I handled certain situations. Experts say that your personality is set by age 7, so clearly there’s no going back now.

I look back now and then on the things my own parents did right and wrong in their parenting of me. Sure they could’ve encouraged me to find my “passion”, but my mom was raising six children. She was lucky to find her shoes! Maybe in their own way they did help me. I was good in school, so they recognized this and pushed me to always try my best. I showed some talent with the piano, so they made me continue to take lessons despite my whining.

Did they know of any of my other interests or talents? Did I ever consider sharing it with them? No. I’m not sure why but my guess is that my love of reading and writing paled in comparison to some other loftier talents.

I often tell parents that if you do the best you can, that’s all that you can expect. And I believe this. I do not wake up each day with the intention of creating a situation that my children will be relaying to a future therapist, but sometimes it happens. Sometimes the best of intentions go awry and I hear the little “cha-ching” of a psychotherapy bill looming along with college tuition.

But to expect to go through the parenting journey with no mistakes or mishaps is crazy. There are no manuals or instructions that tell you what to do. It’s a “seat of your pants” job and if you’re looking for step-by-step instructions, I’d suggest you might not be up to the task.

I may very well have to pay for therapy and college. That’s ok. In some weird way, my children will benefit from both!

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Jennifer Covello, Copyright 2023