I just met up with someone I hadn't seen in a while. Older child doing very well, taking a break from college to pay down loans. Has a good job, has been advancing well, lives on own, in a steady relationship, etc.There but for the grace of God.
Next child has had no end of problems. Has good friends but attracted to "bad" kids. Drugs, running away, alcohol, mental health issues, etc. Parents very involved, doing everything they can to straighten child out. Have just over a year left where they can legally wield influence over child. Have been very proactive.
These parents are involved, pushed education, know kids' teachers, talk to the school, make sure homework is done, have fairly strict rules and keep track of kids, assign chores and expect them to be done. Basically, everything you would want them to be doing.
Worked on first kid. Didn't on second kid.
As this person said yesterday, "I used to think it was only bad parents who had kids that went in such a wrong direction."
It's easy to think that your child's successes are due to you and that your child's failures are due to _________ (bad teaching, society, spouse, genetics). Truth is it can be any and all or none of those things. And that the amount of control we have is similarly up in the air and diminishes with each year of age they gain!
What is that old saw they tell you when you come in for your SPED intake?
Mental illness is genetic. You get if from your kids.
I hope I haven't offended passersby repeating that --- I was a little shocked the first time I heard it (and, yes, I heard it when I took one of the kids in for SPED eval). But I appreciated the sentiment and still do.
As far as I can tell, nature is real. Nature and chance.
I am a strong believer in authoritative parenting. The research is there, and I was raised by authoritative parents myself; Ed, too. I know it works.
I also believe I've seen authoritative parenting work its magic with kids who have mental illnesses or behavior disorders as well as with typical kids.
But in the case of a child with a mental illness or a developmental disability or ADHD (etc.) authoritative parenting is not a cure. It is a long slog.
In my experience, when authoritative parents raise children who have significant challenges, those children may still face challenges as adults (though not always). BUT their upbringing equips them with the resilience, the determination, and the sense responsibility they need to forge their way.
That reminds me of something an editor of mine once said to me. She was a bit of a wild character, but she was keeping it together, and she told me: The secret to life is Put your demons in the back seat and TELL THEM TO KEEP THEIR HANDS OFF THE WHEEL.
I tell my friends who are doing everything they can do to straighten out a child, but it's still not enough: time is on your side.
I believe that.