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Sat, Jan. 18

Enjoy the perfect moments with the kids

I am always surprised by the things we seem to pass on to our children and grandchildren, not just the dark eyes or big feet. Sometimes there are things in their personality that we can see in ourselves. Sometimes it is a strong will, a sharp sense of humor, or even a love of animals. You may have one grandchild that looks just like her granddad, and one who you think looks just like you did as a child. You may hear your son or daughter even say the same things to their children that you remember saying to them when they were little.

Sometimes we can actually figure out what things our kids might want to do or be when they grow up. Perhaps they have taken and enjoyed ice-skating lessons since they were 6 years old and show a natural talent. Maybe your son or daughter has been an artist, and you could tell they were exceptional right away. You would think that their future is basically a slam dunk, but then they end up going in a completely different direction. I remember being very bossy as a kid and was usually the one in charge of most activities. Going into management was preordained for me.

I often wonder when we have more than one child what makes them each choose a different road in life. One may go into management, while the other seems perfectly happy driving a truck. We pass on so many things, yet no one can explain when things go badly. It used to be that we always blamed the mother or the absent or abusive dad when kids got into trouble. I think we all know now that only certain behaviors come from the growing-up environment. Often times, there was a perfectly normal household, and parents who were always there for the children.

Most of us have read at least one book or seen a movie about twins. Even those who were separated at birth have certain things beyond their looks in common. I happen to know a set of male twins now in their 70s. They still look quite identical, but have completely different personalities. I once read about a set of twins that were adopted and separated as infants. Years later when they were reunited, they had many more things in common than their looks. If I remember correctly, they both married women with the same first name. They both went into the same line of work, and they dressed almost identically. We know that these were not things they learned or shared while growing up. Does this mean that we have much more going on genetically or is this just a coincidence?

I think maybe some of us are predisposed to certain things when we are born. No matter what a parent or parents do, things can still go in the wrong direction. We would all like to see a wonderful future for all our children and a happy life as well. But alas, we can only hope that if we love them and guide them the best way we know how, it will all work out OK.

At what point do we stop enabling bad behavior and stop "helping" adult children? Anyone who watches “Dr. Phil” has seen just how many times the parents do not know how to "let go." I can certainly understand what that would be like. There are many parents who dread the late-night phone call that will tell them their beloved child is gone.

How can we explain those adult children who have chosen to spend their lives using drugs or abusing alcohol? Did we fail to provide them with the tools they needed to make good choices? Maybe, maybe not. Perhaps there really is something inside them that dictates their futures we know nothing about.

There are no perfect children or perfect parents.

We can only hope for many perfect moments along the way.

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