Sometimes, you run across something so insightful that it moves you and inspires you to self-reflect. I had that experience this past week, when an email from the grandparents of a girl in one of our programs was forwarded to me. With their permission, I wanted to share their thoughts about the experience they just had with you, while withholding the names involved. Also, by way of explanation, our programs have Parent Seminars every three months where parents (and many grandparents) travel to the program to be with their daughter for several days. There they do family therapy together, participate in therapeutic activities, share with fellow parents at a parent support group, and just have fun. These grandparents had just completed one of these weekends which prompted the following email from them:
So that you might know how beneficial the weekend is, I wanted to share with you some of my personal insights from the weekend. I found that the opportunity to share with other parents was very insightful and enlightening. In visiting with other parents, I had a sense that all parents, myself included, most commonly expressed frustrations and disappointments before coming to Moonridge. These frustrations seemed to be rooted in expecting too much of our children. It is good to set our standards high but only if we, as parents, are prepared to serenely accept results that fall short of our expectations. When not prepared, expectations become premeditated resentments toward our children.Our goals are not always their goals. Our values are not always their values. They can not live a life that they do not subscribe to. We somehow arrogantly believe that ours are right and theirs are wrong. We don’t always grant our daughters the dignity to be the unique individual that they are.
Perhaps as parents we are more in love with ourselves….with the daughter we want….than with the daughter we have. When parents come to this point with humility that humility releases them from the bondage of self…pride, arrogance, prejudice. I fear that the parents there, including myself, universally expected more out of their daughter than a sick confused girl could deliver. Similarly I believe that there may be an expectation, once well, of a complete transformation of their daughter. Instead, to avoid premeditated resentments, I think we parents should seek progress and not perfection. I think a pivotal change that needs to occur in the parents is to learn to settle for less than they wished for and to be willing to accept it and appreciate it. Contentment comes from accepting gratefully the good that comes to us and not raging at life because it is not better. This good attitude is not resignation but realistic acceptance of what life sends our way. We parents, perhaps more than our daughters, need to change.Parents need to acknowledge that they are not in control and that the only thing they can control is what is inside their skin…themselves. If our daughters are going to change, it is up to them and not to us.We need to turn not to ourselves for solutions but to our higher Power. We need to accept life on life’s terms. I am reminded of the Zen proverb that says, “When I understand it, it is what it is. If I don’t understand it, it still is what it is”. I felt so upbeat because I perceived that every parent wanted to change because every parent there loved their daughter. Hence I saw hope burning brightly. The most important dimension for change is to be willing….and every parent was willing…..that is why they chose Moonridge. Its program is designed for both. Thank you for your foresightedness!!We look forward to the next weekend. We will come with an upbeat heart and a teachable spirit. Again we appreciate all your work to stage these weekends. SEE YOU IN MAY.