An Old Man’s Mistakes


“Youth cannot know how age thinks and feels. But old men are guilty if they forget what it was to be young…”

- Albus Dumbledore, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

As they say, we don’t get to recovery on a winning streak. In the first step I admitted my problem: I was powerless over alcohol; my life had become unmanageable. The solution to my problem was a power greater than myself. I cleared away the defects of character which blocked me from accessing this power. Today my life has meaning and purpose. I have faith that I don’t face my troubles alone.

While I’ve found myself quite accepting of the fact that my life is unmanageable, as a parent of teenage children I haven’t been so willing to accept that I can’t control my children’s lives. I can ensure they have food, shelter and video games ( aren’t those Maslov’s most fundamental needs?) but I can’t direct their decisions or mold their attitudes to match mine. From the heart of a parent’s love I want to protect them from all the mistakes I made. I try to loan them my experience but they want their own and this brings me to Dumbledore’s quote.

I must remember that my experiences have meaning to me only because they are mine. I can’t forget that I also rejected my parent’s advice. Only knew what was best for me. Only I could see the truth that others couldn’t. I’m learning that I can’t make my children know how age thinks or feels. They must learn in their own way and that is often painful for me and for them. I would do anything to save them the pain and anguish of adolescence but I can’t.

All I can give my children is unconditional love. As painful as it is to watch them mature what they need most from me isn’t my experience or lectures. It is my acceptance of them as individuals of value. It is the love that only a parent feels; the love that can soothe their mistakes without judgement and encourages them to keep growing.

  1. #1 by d on January 20, 2013 - 11:04 am

    This post initiated a thought pattern in my head about how God must feel towards us like parents do to their children. In fact, when I replace “parent” with “God” in some of those sentences a certain soothing occurs.

    It also reminds me that God is not aware of time, the he/she/omni-everything one is time-less. The time-space thingy does not exist.

    Finally, I am probably trying to define something that is undefinable, which is so typical of this imperfect human. Also typical is my need to make sense of things. (sigh)

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