Between Parent and Child

In the history of my blog, this is the most highly read post.  I don’t know if that is due to the content or the name.  I am bringing it forward for so many of you who are looking for it.

Dear Nephew.

Thoughts and responses come rushing to me as I read your letter.  I can’t think fast enough to keep up with the stream.  But my one sure thought is this: there is no perfect parent.  We didn’t have them and we are not them.

While you are questioning your first family structure and your lifeline to your children, I am spending time in meditation trying to know what is too much and what is not enough.  Will we ever find the answers?  Probably not!  The goal is to keep at it.

I don’t know anyone who wakes up in the morning and says, “I think I’ll screw my kid up today!”  We do it by being ourselves, by not being perfect and by being human.  The glory is in trying to keep the communication open in both directions: to our parents as long as we have them with us, and to our children as long as they have us. I am thinking that until you can call your kids, it would be wonderful if you wrote to them as openly and honestly as you write to me.  Maybe you do.  I hope so!

I agree with you, too, that we can continue our conversations with our loved ones when they are no longer on this earth.  In our attempts to sort out our “buried” relationships, we come to terms with ourselves and with the way we interacted with them in their lives.  We can change our responses to things in the past and we can come to an understanding of motives that isn’t there until we are ready.  My mother doesn’t have to be alive for me to finally “get” how much she gave me.  While my mother and father were  still alive, I began to see what they tried to do as parents.  Sadly, although I didn’t connect with much of it at the time nor give them the appreciation they deserved, I can recognize  it now.

Now, I wake in the night with an intense feeling about my children and suddenly realize that this feeling was behind my father’s actions.  Or when my children look at me in a certain way, I know why my mother reacted with defensiveness and frustration.

You are right that love is the answer.  Uncompromising, steady, unconditional love is what we all want and what is so hard to give.  We want so much back for our love.  We want response, rapport, acknowledgment and agreement.  And sometimes we get none of these things.  Sometimes we only get the sure knowledge that we have the staying power  to continue to love.

I don’t want to be so trite as to say that prison is a good thing for you.  But good will come of it.  If our difficulties in life crack us open to our soft centers so that what we have inside can spill out to the people we love, then the difficulties have purpose.  Sometimes we aren’t capable of knowing and showing our vulnerabilities and the depth of our feelings until we have been shattered.

Although being in prison is not like solitary time in Mexico,  you and I are striving for the same things.  We are looking to our higher power and our higher selves to do the best we can in the world we have helped to create.  And the best for the people we have helped to create.

Your yearning to be complete in your relationships resonates with me.  I am confident that the more centered and whole we are, the better it is for our loved ones.  That being ourselves is good for others, even if it ends up being a horrible warning instead of a good example.  I am trusting that owning your mistakes, continuing your self-examination and  discovering the right path for you, will be a blessing for you and your family.

As for the kinks in communication and the self-recrimination for all bad things in your children’s lives: welcome to the world of parenting.  Just remember that you don’t have prove your importance and you don’t have to be perfect.  You  are already worthy and worthwhile.



  1. Perfect parents…”We didn’t have them, and we are not them”…
    “Will we ever find the answers?…The goal is to keep at it.”
    It’s almost bumper-sticker truth, a reminder to us as children of parents, and now parents and grandparents of children.
    What a beautiful, honest, helpful essay you’ve written.


    • Wouldn’t we love it if we were perfect parents?…although it still wouldn’t work for every one of our children… Oh, well.


    • Well, then. If your parents had that in mind, they failed miserably, didn’t they! Congratulations on your spiritual journey the has led you to the place you are today. (And I bet you don’t wake up and say that about your child.:)


  2. Yes yes yes yes yes! Isn’t it a walk on the edge? Which makes life so beautiful and so utterly challenging? I’m absolutely with you in the “wholeness in relationships” thing. I’m with you in the communications thing. I wish we’d live closer to each other, so we could go out for a coffee *right now*.


    • Wouldn’t that be nice? Well, I’m a traveller and you are becoming one…maybe one of these days we can meet. Hope so!


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