There’s a saying that’s been going around for a long time, “Be nice to your kids, they’ll choose your nursing home.” I never realized until just now how absolutely true that is.
For a very, very long time I believed I owed my parents everything. This probably was due a lot to the fact that they thought my whole existence was to please them. They would tell us on a regular basis that since they raised us, and mom put up with us for so long, that we owed it to them and to her to do everything around the house. That since mom picked up after us when we were kids, that we had to do everything now that we were older, and mom could sit around and drink coffee and do whatever she wanted. My dad even wanted to make a video to show the women in mom’s forum about how things “should” be done…with mom, the Queen Bee, sitting in her chair drinking coffee with her pinkie up and reading a book, while all of us kids cleaned in fast motion.
I really don’t know where they got the idea that mom cleaned up so much after us when we were kids, either. We started doing chores when I was seven or eight…say I was eight, Ben was 6, Joe was 5, and Eric was 3. They weren’t just little chores…I did the family’s laundry and kept the kitchen and dishes done, Ben and Joe alternated between the living room and the dining room (which included setting the table and vacuuming). I’m sure we didn’t do them perfectly, and mom probably had to help us, but still. Oh, and we were responsible for our rooms.
When we were older, there were more of us so we each had less chores. When I moved out, the chores had just been changed up because Joe had moved out, so I don’t remember who was doing what. I do know mom was not responsible for any of it — including homeschooling.
The environment we were raised in was also one where I felt like it was my duty to make my parents happy, and if they weren’t happy, even because of someone else, somehow it was my fault and I had to fix it. (Don’t try this at home, kids, it takes a toll on you!) At one point, I even told Scottie that I wouldn’t move out because “I could never hurt my dad like that.” Needless to say, this is not a healthy environment for a child to grow up in.
All this to say, I thought I owed my parents everything. Even for many months after I moved out, I thought I still owed them something. My dad would go on and on about how children were supposed to take care of their parents and elders and do whatever they said because of one random passage in the bible that said some grandkids of this one dude didn’t drink alcohol or build houses because their grandpa was told by god not to (Jeremiah 35).
The more I’ve thought about it though, and the more I’ve read about parenting, the more I see they had it totally backwards and the saying “be nice to your kids, they’ll choose your nursing home” is totally true. You shouldn’t raise your kids thinking they owe you their life, therefore they can be your slaves. You raise them to be human beings who will function in society and better themselves and everyone around them. You be kind, respectful, and loving, and more than likely they will be kind, respectful, and loving back. I don’t feel Ari owes me anything. It wasn’t her fault she was born, and it would be really unfair to put all that on her just because she was born. If she chooses not to help us in her old age, we are adults and we figure it out ourselves. If she does choose to help us in our old age (and hopefully we will, because we strive to teach her to be caring towards others!), it will make life great.
As far as my folks are concerned…I’m not even sure I’m going to see them before they or I die. If we do see each other, it would be on my terms, and they have a hell of a lot of apologizing to do, because if anyone owes anybody anything…THEY owe ME for a shitty, abusive childhood and a buttload of emotional baggage.
I didn’t choose to be born. Why should I owe someone else for their actions?!