I met Ralph when we were seventeen, in a church. At a word from my mother I shifted and looked back to see him at the head of the aisle; his head was turned. He had a long lean body and tousled red hair and thrillingly alternative sideburns and he was easily handsome. He had expressive hands; he was a drummer. It’s rather incredible I can remember this to the day, how I felt.
Apologies have not come easy to me because growing up, the adults in my life did not apologize to me (or, as far as I could tell, to anyone else). They sometimes behaved remorsefully, but that is not the same at all. In fact, the remorseful parental behavior is rather damaging: because as a child, your parents’ distress and weakness (feeling sorry for themselves or embarrassed when they erred) will often precipitate a strong sense of your own culpability, and that is hard to recover from. If you are someone who had a childhood like this, my heart is with you. It’s a very difficult experience and it is hard to overcome.
I believe I hurt someone’s feelings a little while back, when they were asking me for parenting advice. I said,
“Stop thinking of your baby as being ‘good’. Stop showing off the baby. She’s a person, not a pet. The sooner you abandon these practices the better it will be for you – and your kid.”
I’ve said this before. And if I was a bit direct – well first, I was being asked to be direct. Second: it’s nothing I didn’t learn the hard way.
I did every one of these things and lived to repent, and change my attitude. And I’ve left my own early parenting writings online – you can go back and see I made these mistakes.
Parents do these things, because we’re told to. It’s modeled to us. It’s conflated with “good” parenting.