Friday, January 16, 2009

Parental Success

How can one measure the success of a parent? Is it by their child's education level or income? Is it by how much the child-turned-adult still loves their parent? Or can you say that a parent is successful simply by bringing another life into the world? A little bit of all of these, I think. We all put different values on what we call success, and I'm no different.

When telling people lately that my parents don't keep a room for me at their house, that they don't store my mass of belongings, or that they don't have dozens of pictures of me all over the house, the people responded with horror! "That's sad," they said. How sad, indeed, that my parents' house is not a shrine to my existence.

One of the many ways to measure my parents' success is to say that I'm out of their house. I'm an adult, finally a big person completely on my own. I don't depend on them financially, for food, for shelter, or for clothing. Of course, they do buy me food when we go out to eat, and sure, they might buy the odd sweater or something, but those are rare and not at all a significant part of my wardrobe. My parents gave me everything they could for more than twenty years, and now I am out of their house. They've succeeded in giving me all I need to go out and live my life independently--and that's wonderful!

Having me out of the house completely doesn't mean they don't love me or that I don't love them. It doesn't mean we never talk or see each other. It doesn't mean I can't go sleep on their couch or hang out at their house. It doesn't mean they don't remember me when I'm gone or that I never think about them. Having an independent daughter, though, means that my parents have fulfilled their primary responsibility. They've given birth to, raised, loved, nurtured, educated, provided for, disciplined, and guided a child all the way to an adult. Could a parent (or a child) ask for more?!

My parents' job isn't completely over--and never will be--as I'll continue to go to them for advice, to share love, joy, and sorrow, and to pester them into taking me out to dinner every once in a while. It's not like they don't have anything to do either: my sister still lives at home. The job is definitely not finished. But to say that it's "sad" that my parents don't keep their house full of my stuff, my picture on every wall, or an empty bed just for me is disrespectful to both them and me. In one way, my parents have succeeded. We should celebrate!


cm0978 said...

Yes, that's the exact measure of success: that the child can stand on her/his own feet, can be a productive adult, and has a strong set of morals and ethics. THAT'S how we measure how well we did. It sounds like your parents were very successful also. Good for all of you!

Jen said...

I'm glad to see you posting things about our lunch conversation. I never thought you'd find so much to blog about. Kudos.
Nobody questions your success as a person nor the success of your parents raising you. So I'm wondering why "independence" is your measure of success? Or am I misunderstanding?

MissKris said...

Your parents sound a lot like us. My kids live in my heart, not on my walls or table tops. Even the grandbabies grace only the top of the TV and there's also a photo of our oldest grandson on the china closet shelf. I never have felt comfortable going in to homes where the walls and furniture are plastered with family photos. But it wasn't until I read this post that I ever really thought about it.