I had reason to be in Juvenile Court last week, with a friend (everything is fine in our home), she was there responding to a visitation request. CPS (could be called something different in your state) took her grandson, (who is a biological cousin to my two grandgirls)-actually the friend is their other grandma, who fortunately lives just down the street from us, so my girls get to grow up with both grandma's instead of both parents and they get to grow up with their cousin as well) Anyway.....the idiot dad of the cousin just got out of prison and filed for visitation. Whatever.
My point, which I started out to make, was that while I was sitting in the waiting area by the Court Clerks office, NO FEWER THAN THREE ELDERLY COUPLES WALKED IN AFTER THEIR APPEARANCE IN COURT TO OBTAIN CUSTODY OF THEIR GRANDCHILD/REN! In a one hour period, three more grands got custody of their grandkids, in a SMALL county, in a SMALL court, in a SMALL part of Ohio. Wow. Just Wow.
I asked the clerk, sort of on the sly, if this was an unusual day for that. She replied, that grandparent custody is about HALF their cases now, at least, if not more than half. All from heroin. Most of the parents are just signing the babies/kids away to the grandparents. They don't even fight to keep them.
A friend walked in, someone who has been working in the court system for years, and whom I know well. She said she and the Judge were talking the other day, and he asked a good question. "What is going to happen when THESE children have children and screw up, because THEY won't have grandparents to step in as the parents who are releasing their kids today would be the grandparents of tomorrow.
I looked her right in the eye and said, "Mary Beth? Don't worry. You and the Judge are assuming something. You are assuming that ultimately, it was the fault of the parent that the child became and addict, and therefore, the grandchildren who are being raised by the grandparent will turn out screwed up too, since the same person is raising them. Don't make that mistake. Firstly, it WAS NOT our/my fault my daughter became a junkie, or ALL of my kids would be one (she is very familiar with my family), secondly, I am going out of my way to insure that everything possible that could be done, is being done. Our grandkids are gonna be just fine. We learned alot about heroin addiction. We have learned alot about over compensating for our children. We have learned how NOT to enable victimology and the addict behaviors. We have learned that the addiction gene is present in our grandchildren. We have learned how NOT to step in and SAVE them from every little thing that happens in their lives. We have learned to step back, and let the child experience the consequences of their actions, from kindergarten on up. We didn't do that with the addicts. We bailed them out of every little situation, and made excuses like "well her grades are SO GOOD, that we can fix this little problem so it doesn't interfere with her college prospects..." things like that.
We will NOT do that for the grandchildren. They will learn how to cope with life. They will learn how to fail, get back up, and turn failure into success. Because, ultimately, these heroin addicts are a societal thing that happened to a certain generation. The generation WE created. We, as parents, just started enabling and making excuses for these kids right out of the womb, because that is what the experts TOLD us to do. Warm fuzzies, Cold pricklies, protect the kid, make sure they get on the softball team even if they can't catch a ball to save their lives. We told them how great they were even when they weren't. We made sure their little self esteem was SO HIGH that they went into the big bad world thinking that everything would just fall right into their laps. Then, when it didn't, because reality just doesn't work that way, they crawled into a needle, bottle, whatever, and retreated from reality.
She just looked at me. She is raising a child, who well, is challenging, and honestly, she and her partner (she happens to be lesbian) are treating their child with the exact same philosophy that we all did. That he is precious and needs to be sheltered from everything. I hope she understood.
We did it because we loved our kids and wanted to spare them from the ugliness of reality. We didn't do them any favors at all.
I call our Junkies, the LOST GENERATION. As a societal phenomenon, we did fail as parents. We failed to prepare our children for what is really out there. It is so very different than the world WE grew up in. But, to shield them and help them to the extent we did, set them up to fail at life. Fools rush in where Angels fear to tread....and we were fools. We believed Dr. Spock, and we listened to the 'politically correct' crowd. We worried more about our children having friends than we did about grades. We worried more about them having good self esteem than about their problem solving skills.
But, we are NOT stupid. We have seen what happened, and some of us figured it out. We realized that the very adversity WE faced growing up was what gave us the character to stay steadfast on our life course. Most of MY generation experimented with drugs. And yet, when we became parents, we just stopped. We didn't become addicts. Because we had the interior resolve and character to return to our roots and hold on. Oh sure, some of us did, no doubt. There are so many things that play into becoming an addict.
But rest assured, character building will not be one of them for the next generation. We are not harsh with the grandbabies. We are firm, loving and have consequences for behaviors that are clear and reasonable. We don't back down. We stand our ground. We listen through all the wailing, through all the "you are ruining my life", through the "you just HAVE to let me go, I already made plans..." and we still say "sorry, this is the consequence, you have to live through it. Learn from it and don't do it again." We say, "well, I'm sorry this teacher hates you, but you still have to get at least a B out of her class. Figure out how to do it or stay grounded the entire semester." We don't TELL them how. We don't rush down to the school and pull them out of that class. We don't confront the teacher for being mean to our little precious girl. We let the kid handle it, we alert the principal, we take all precautions, and let the kid figure out how to handle a teacher. We watch....but we do not rescue.
Will this work? God above, I certainly hope so!!
My oldest grand walked by and saw I was on her FB. She said Meemaw, WHAT are you doing. I said reading all your messages.
She said WHAT? you are stalking me!! I said No, I'm not. This is called PARENTING. She said YOU ARE INVADING MY PRIVACY. I said, No, YOU DO NOT HAVE ANY PRIVACY. I will read your fb, your texts, I will check your tablet and your laptop every night to see where you have been on the internet. I will listen to your voicemails. There is NO expectation of privacy in this house. YOU are a child. I am the parent. I do not expect you to know what is safe and what it not, so I will be checking. Get over it. I also have a tracker on your cell phone so I can see where you have been.
I will use the tools available to me. I am smart enough with technology to do that. There will be NO hidden dirty little secrets this time around. And, there will be clear rules and expectations. From the beginning. This is no longer a democratic house. THIS is a dictatorship. And I am the dictator.
I AM A PARENT, NOT A FRIEND.