On Giving and Not Giving Children Life


“First your parents, they give you your life, but then they try to give you their life.”
― Chuck Palahniuk

I dropped my mother off at the airport this afternoon. She’s probably waiting at her gate right this second.

She’s been visiting for the last 11 days; playing grandmother games with the Melissa and Rob and visiting with Wendy and I.

In any case, her visit reminded me of something that I’ve always appreciated about her. She certainly gave me my life, but she’s never tried to foist hers on me. The Chuck Palahniuk quote above is the absolute antithesis of everything she ever did as a parent and her presence is always a reminder to me to emulate her in that.

When you overthink parenting, and life in general, as much as I do, it can be tempting to build up a sort of ideological trellis. If, after all this thinking, I have decided that the right answer is A, then it must make sense that I should parent in pursuit of A. Rules grow up like vines around that trellis until no other approach to life has room to breath.

My mom has always been tolerant of my ideas and choices — even when they’ve differed strongly from hers. That’s a real gift and it’s one I want to give Melissa and Rob.