01 June 2010

When things go wrong

I had all sorts of plans for today's hacks and practical tidbits...and then I read the news of the death of Katie Allison Granju's teenage son, Henry. I can't stop thinking about them, and about the larger issue of parenting when things go wrong.

I don't know Katie personally -- we're "colleagues" as parenting writers, although I've always thought of her as more than that somehow. She's a brave, honest writer, always has been. When she revealed her son's drug addiction in a post at Babble, my admiration for her grew a thousandfold. To share, even in her pain and her (unnecessary but understandable) shame, what they were going through...to help even at a time of extreme need...well, it's remarkable.

And now, he has died. The unthinkable has happened. The thing we all fear most of all.

My family has had its share of travails these last few years. And through them I've learned that, despite our great love, our thoughtful parenting, our all-too-human mistakes (most of which are barely a blip on the cosmic screen), things can still go terribly wrong.

Too often we blame ourselves for our kids' difficulties, or their struggles, or their failures. We can all strive to be better parents, but, in the end, when life deals this sort of blow, all we can do is humbly accept that so much is beyond our control.

Today, treat yourself gently, love your children, and be grateful for the moments of peace, even when they only appear between mountains of chaos.

Here's how to help the Granju family: http://shanerhyne.com/2010/06/01/helping-a-friend/

Your comments

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Thank you so much for saying this, "Too often we blame ourselves for our kids' difficulties, or their struggles, or their failures. We can all strive to be better parents, but, in the end, when life deals this sort of blow, all we can do is humbly accept that so much is beyond our control." it's so easy to feel like we can just fix things, and we can't.

Well, I think thinking we can fix things gives us comfort...because it's something we can do in the face of frightening times. It's scary to accept that sometimes, there's nothing we can do beyond love these beautiful children. Scary, but also remarkably freeing.

I'm not a parent, but I thought about so many parents I know when I read the lines that you referenced. As a teacher, when my kids aren't even "my own" I find this difficult to do. But necessary. Is it possible to not take on that responsibility? And, if it is, how do you do it?

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