Parenting and Pride: An Example to Live By
Before moving to Spain, easily the most difficult part of the prep work for me was telling our parents. We weren’t scared of their reaction – we were scared of the inevitable and impending heartache. After a decade of raising our kids 5 miles away we were moving over 5k miles away…with their two young grandchildren. I will never ever forget the first words my Dad said as I cried and told them we were leaving over family brunch:
“This is such an amazing opportunity for you and the kids. I am so proud of you guys.”
That’s it. “I am proud of you.” There was no “but have you thought about…”, no strings attached, no advice, just wholehearted trust and confidence in our decision.
I know that our parents experienced a myriad of emotions over those next months but they selflessly protected me from all stages of their grief. In the quiet of their morning coffee they were probably rehearsing worst-case-scenario thoughts like: “I mean what if there is a global pandemic and they can’t come home and they’re trapped there and we can’t get to them?!”
Well, here we are – both of our worst worst-case-scenarios realized. An ocean away from hugs, birthdays, and breakfast casseroles. We were supposed to see each other in May…cancelled. August…very Corona-questionable. It’s been 237 days since I’ve seen my family – but who’s keeping track?
After living in Spain for 2 years, I have met people that are angry with their grown children for moving here. Some who won’t come see their kids as a sort of punishment or manifestation of anger toward their grown children. Other families who just don’t understand or support their life outside of the US and still others who struggle to keep in touch and love from afar. These people wrestle to get the most out of their experience because they feel judged and at fault for their decision and it can truly rob people of their happiness – slowly eroding their self-assurance.
It continues to be hard for our parents as we share other milestones and moments without them. They continue to have to dig deep and say “Wow, I can’t believe how awesome her Spanish is!!” when I know they really want to scream “COME THE HELL HOME!”
Exhibit A: My text to them both saying that our visas were approved for another 2 years:
As I work to find the silver lining in this pandemic and missing my family – I’m brought right back to the brunch table and the lessons that this experience is teaching me as a person and parent.
“I am proud of you.”
5 words that open doors for your child and allow them to fearlessly live their own truth. As a high school teacher for 10 years I saw parents pushing their kids to university, towards church, away from friends, and not truly listening to their child. It’s not easy to step outside of yourself and ask: What will make my child happy and fulfilled?
I think the answer, in part, to our current political and social climate is to let our children, young and old, live authentically. By challenging the norm, questioning the way things have always been done, and by living fearlessly we can give our kids the confidence to make bold moves and enact lasting change.
The way to make that happen: Be proud of them. Even if it feels like they are going 5,000 miles in the wrong direction.
“I am proud of you” validates choices, celebrates authenticity, and allows you to feel seen, supported, and understood. Not even “I love you” can do that.
I am proud of you. Say it to everyone. Strangers, family, yourself, friends, lovers. It has a transcending power that heals and empowers and no one can hear it enough.
Lots of us are making tough choices with our health, families, beliefs, political views, history, and identity. Right now is the time to do things differently. If you’re doing that in any form…I’m proud of you.
I dedicate this post with immense gratitude to my parents. You have given me the bravery to be myself without judgement and with full trust in my decisions. Your encouragement and example has given me a passport to put stamps in. I love you.
To my future self: Your kid will turn 17 and be a turd…think…breathe…brunch table.
The OG adventurer, in her Austrian element…speaking German 😉