I was checking some random news stories on my Facebook this morning out of boredom. I came across the story of an 18 year-old who witnessed a woman in danger of being run over on a highway and came to her rescue. I thought to myself “What a great man, with courage and bravery. He made the right choice.” Then I read through the comments on the news story and came across multiple people congratulating the man’s parents on doing a great job raising him. What? What did this man’s parents do? They weren’t in the car. He didn’t call them and ask what he should do. This man made his own decision. So why are we thanking his parents and not thanking him?
By that same logic, do we blame the parents when someone does something absolutely unthinkable? Not that I have seen. No one blamed the parents of Adam Lanza when he shot up an elementary school and killed so many innocent people. No one blames the parents of murderers or rapists. I don’t blame my mother’s parents for the traumatic abuse she inflicted upon me. She made that decision. Just like the 18 year-old man in the story above made his decision. No one else did that for them.
Unfortunately this is a common occurrence. I’ve had it happen to me personally more times than I can count. Whenever I won academic awards in school, people would tell my parents they had done a great job parenting. Excuse me? I won the award. Not my parents. Neither of them did anything. They didn’t help me with my homework. They didn’t encourage me to study or do better. I chose to do that on my own because I needed something positive to hold on to. When teachers told my parents how kind and driven to help others I was, they always included “you’re doing a great job as parents.” No. No they weren’t. If these people only knew the horrors I was living through.
I was parenting myself. I had to parent myself. The only good thing my parents ever did for me was showing me everything NOT to do. My mother never wanted me to succeed; I wanted that for myself. My mother and father never showed me how to be caring and compassionate; that came from never wanting others to feel the same pain and despair I had felt all of my life.
I can’t tell you how I ended up becoming the person that I am, considering what I came from. What I can tell you is that some of the most kind, compassionate, and exceptional people I have ever met have had the shittiest upbringings. We raised ourselves to be everything our parents were not. We raised ourselves because that’s what we had to do to survive.
Stop assuming that everything a person is, is because of their parents. It is so invalidating to do something good, only to have someone else be recognized for it. You wouldn’t want that for yourself, so don’t do it to others.