Recently, my kids have presented us with some choices for their lives that strike me as being not all together wise (notice how carefully I’m choosing my words here). They range from being just questionable to downright dangerous. When I’ve expressed my concerns, the kids often tell me that, as their parent, I’m supposed to be supportive of everything they do. I’ve thought about this and come to the conclusion that, as a parent, I DON’T have to be supportive of everything they do IF I feel it will put them in danger or is really likely to impact their lives negatively.
One of my kids chimed in with a litany of potential situations that he feels parents should be supportive of, like their child being gay, having a particular religious belief, wanting to get a tattoo and marrying who they want. I consider myself to be very open-minded, and I can be supportive of everything he listed off as long as none of those choices effect their safety. For me, the supportive bar stops at the point of potential danger.
I know that, ultimately, my children will do what they want to do. But to me, saying “I’m supportive” is the same as saying, “I approve and think it’s a great idea.” Instead, as I told my kids, what I can for certain say is, “I will love you, no matter what. I will try to help you through any negative consequences that may happen as a result of your choice, but I am really worried about what could happen if you proceed.” Parents out there, am I wrong? Should I give my support, even while grimacing inside and crossing my fingers behind my back? What are your thoughts?
This is a tough one for me because I think the support issue extends beyond parent-child to parents themselves. In the case of our kids, I think being supportive should mean trying to see their side of things, offering our feedback, but ultimately saying, “it’s your life, you need to make the choices you feel good about.” I know that doesn’t cover Courtney’s safety concerns but I think that’s where we, as parents have to let go and hope and pray nothing bad does happen to the kids. But I completely agree with her that we need to always send the message of love and that we won’t abandon them if their plans go awry.
In the case of us, as a couple, I know I wish my wife could be more supportive of some of the things I’d like to do. But her objections revolve around safety and expense. I guess when any of us are asking for someone’s support in something, we are really saying, “just go along with this because it’s what I want to do.” Sometimes the other person can do that and sometimes they can’t. I think as long as people are always willing to listen and consider and come from a place of love, even if it means they adamantly disagree, that’s really all of the support we should expect.