At some point in our lives we all have to make a decision. We have to decide if the choices we are making with our lives are beneficial or detrimental to those we love around us. Or, put more simply, if those we love around us are worth keeping around.
When children grow into adulthood, they take with them decades of upbringing from their families. Many choose to use what they’ve been taught as guidelines for how to live their own lives. Others choose their own paths completely. Some even use their upbringings as blueprints of what to avoid as they embark upon their own philosophies. None of these are right or wrong, but how that transition is handled could be the difference in what happens to those who helped — or hurt — them along the way.
Forget the variables of money and social status. Support doesn’t necessarily have to reflect those factors, and without them, I believe kids fall into two categories: A) Those who grew up with love and support and B) those who did not.
In category A, a kid who grew up in a loving, caring family will typically embrace the philosophies of his or her parents. The adolescent felt positive energy growing up, was praised for accomplishments and held accountable for negative actions he or she may have caused along the way. That’s what a loving, caring family does. It ensures the members within it are best set up for life in adulthood, whether through accolades or discipline, and gives the kid the best shot at a happy life after it leaves the nest.
But even this isn’t the case 100 percent of the time. Occasionally a kid from a good family will follow a different path, whether through early rebellion or just different desires, and it won’t matter how much support a family tries to provide — the kid-turned-adult has chosen to pursue actions that alienate everyone around them. It could be drugs, it could be violence, crime or, alternatively, simply seclusion and the inability to respect the views of the generation that raised them, but these now adults resist the loving guidance that got them there, to the point where they may sever the strongest tie they’ve experienced: family.
On the flip side, in category B, some kids grow up in shattered homes, with parents who were not ready to be parents — who are addicts or alcoholics, abusive or unloving — and somehow they find ways to create their own paths as adults to a structure completely different than how they were raised. They use their family as an example of what not to become, and actively search for a mate that can change their lives forever. Some find true love, and build a family based on the mold of the caring family in category A, blazing a new path unknown to them, but imagined and yearned for their entire lives. It can happen. It does happen. It only takes the will to make it happen.
These kids may dissolve the relationship they once had with their parents, or they’ll embrace it and show their previous family what that kind of love and caring looks like, and how forgiveness and hard work at building a relationship can create new relationships with familiar faces.
All of the above-mentioned situations end with a kid growing up and entering the world on his or her own, though. Some will be better prepared than others, and there will be a few that break each mold, but overall, I believe it’s best to not leave this up to chance. I’d rather my kids come from category A, so to speak, with the guidance and love we can and should provide, which will lead to the greatest odds of finding success in life. Ultimately, love and caring are what we wall want for our kids anyway, and what we all want for ourselves from them as they become adults themselves. So why not do things the right way to begin with, and hope your kids follow the same path? Even if they don’t, you can be proud that you did the right thing, and in life that should be what we all strive for anyway.
I like to believe most parents, no matter where they are in life, have this mentality. Their hearts are in the right place, and if your child sees that growing up, it’s likely to instill the same qualities in a future adult.
As for the kids growing into adults, how you make that transition away from family and into a life of your own will help make or break your success in whatever you do. Appreciate the good things people have done for you, the sacrifices they’ve made, and reward such commitment with love and caring of your own, whether it be aimed at those who provided it for you to begin with, or those you plan on one day setting off into the world from your household — or both. You can’t go wrong if you do things right, despite what life might throw at you to make you think otherwise.
And if your past or current relationships are keeping you from becoming the person you know you need to be to brighten up this world, break free from the shackles holding you back from your potential, but do so with honor. Thank those who provided you with help along the way, even if you don’t see eye to eye, and remember all the lessons they’ve taught you, good or bad.
It’s time to grow up. Take the reins of your life and charge forward, but never forget how that bridge you’re crossing was built.
Patrick Ibarra is the managing editor of the Mountain Democrat.