By Craig Hastings
So I’ve been sharing with anyone who would care to listen and some that probably didn’t about some of the unwanted distance that grows between children and their parents as our children grow older. Sure, there are some responsibilities that we as parents hope to leave behind as our child mature and become more capable to do for themselves. But, there are some duties of parenting that I’ve had to sadly watch fade away as my boys have grown older and do for themselves as I watch from afar…but not too far.
I’ve taken some heat from friends over the years because I still do too many things for my boys that I probably should make them do or do without. I remind you my boys have lived the divorced parent saga since they were 8 years and 6 years old. They are 16 and 14 now. Fortunately their mother and I have continued to live in the same town and have gotten along quite well since our divorce. We have shared the boys’ time 50/50 for eight years. It could be that divorced parents try harder to satisfy their children in order to not fall out of favor with their children and to avoid letting the favorite scale tip one way or another.
The truth is I never changed a thing I did or didn’t do for them since the divorce. I don’t believe their mother did either. I guess it’s our fault that we never let them grow and take on some of their own responsibilities and do for themselves. To this day I still make their beds, do their laundry, put their dishes away, pick up what they leave behind, and never make them mow the yard. I think this is somewhat how their mother treats them too. I still volunteer to do things I know they need to get done but haven’t. I’m not defending myself because I know I’m the one doing wrong here.
What they both do well is walk into the kitchen and take on a feeding frenzy when the mood hits them. Lukas will usually always have a handful of books after school, which I did finally stop carrying in for him when I pick him up from school. I also stopped accepting text messages coming from their bedrooms asking me to bring food or drink to them! It’s been a tough few years accepting that they no longer need me to do everything for them. It’s as though I think I can stop time and stop them from growing up if I don’t change what and when I do things for them. I want them to need me, but I also realize that’s a dangerous thing because anything could happen at any time to me, and then what?
We’ve all known those parents that hurry up the growing up process so to no longer carry the burden of others so they can spend more time doing for themselves. I haven’t been able to read to that chapter yet, and I’m actually stuck reading the same sentence over and over. Well something happened two weeks ago that makes me right; maybe. It was good for me but bad for youngest son Lukas. Lukas broke his arm at school and now is living life with a cast on his left arm for about six weeks.
Guess what? This broken arm means that I have to do more things for Lukas than I’ve been doing. Things I used to do and reluctantly surrendered because everyone told me I must. When staying at my home Lukas gets Trump Tower executive privileges. I wait on him for all his needs. I even have to wash his hair for him which I haven’t done for him in years. The first few days he needed me to put his socks on for him and help get the broken arm filtered into his shirt sleeve. I get to make sure he keeps his arm elevated on a pillow when he’s lying down and for a day or two someone had to pull his bedding up on him at night. I’m telling all of you “someone had to” but maybe that’s not the entire truth.
You see, I told Lukas I had to help, because he might hurt his broken arm if he did these things for himself. I’m getting a chance to stroke my own ego here by making Lukas believe he really does still need his dad. Another confession: I broke my left hand during an eighth grade basketball game and neither of my parents helped me do a thing at home. They didn’t help me, because I didn’t need the help and probably neither does son Lukas. However, I convinced Lukas that I do need to help him so no one tell him any different please. I’ll never hope for broken bones to happen to my boys, but I’ll keep practicing for the day just in case!