Thoughts on Parenting “Fails”

This is a reflection of my own family after reading one of my favourite bloggers, Revanche on her posts, “High Cost of Parenting Fails” Part I and Part II.

My Immediate Family

I am the oldest of three daughters for my parents.  I think that they have raised us to be fairly independent (though, sometimes they think too independent).  I have no doubt that my younger sisters will not depend on my parents to live as adults.

My “Failed” Aunt

I guess every family has at least one, and in my family’s case it’s my aunt.  She is my father’s sister.  My father side of the family has 10 siblings altogether.

When my grandmother was still alive, she lived with her, and chipped in a whole $200 a month to cover living expenses, food and everything else.  When my grandmother passed away, she moved in with one of my other aunts (her older sister), and I’m not sure what she paid.

My older aunt drove her to work and cooked for her.  My younger aunt worked a decent job at a factory- which is no different than any of her other siblings.  But for some reason, she never had enough for a car or for her own place.  However, she always had enough to buy nice Movado watches, always the newest and greatest cellphones/smart phones, traveling to Vietnam every year and brand name clothes – to name what I saw.

The Falling Out

Shortly after my grandmother passed away, my aunt had a falling out with the rest of her siblings.  My aunt went to Vietnam for 6 weeks without telling anyone.  Not even my older aunt – who had no idea where she was.  When she finally came back, she was locked out of the house (no one home and locks were changed), any mother and sister ended up picking up so she could stay at my parents’ place that night (and the next two weeks).

Everyone was hurt and angry that she just took off.  Things just went sour from there.  She blamed everyone except for herself, that her older sister wanted to “get rid of her”, and that everyone was on the older aunt’s side.   That no one genuinely cared about her, etc., etc.

My father offered she could stay at his home until she got back on her feet – and she even lashed out at him, afterwards.  She said his offer wasn’t “genuine” because he said it once and never mentioned it again.  Then she took off again.

When family members tried to contact her, she wrote a hateful email listing the faults and allegations she had against every single sibling. She blasted my father, my older aunt, all my aunts and uncles – for not caring about her.  Then told everyone that she was going back to Vietnam for good, and she had found a good job there.

We haven’t heard from her since.  Except for a relative who said they had recently saw her around the City.  I really have no idea if she is in the City or Vietnam.

My Talk with my Sisters

Last weekend, I had a little chat with my youngest sister.  We talked a little about my aunt, but more about how much help is too much?  And when does helping do more harm than good.

I told her that I will always be willing to help her out, but only to the point where she can help herself.  I will not be like my older aunt and let her live with me indefinitely with no payments or responsibility.  This is not to be cruel or mean, but to help her become an adult.

In my culture, parents will never ask their kids to move out.  Many don’t even ask for rent.  Heck, I know so many of my classmates and friends whose parents would bring pre-cooked food for them each week in university.  One even had his mom come up to do his laundry, every weekend!  *palm to forehead*

All I know is, “kids” don’t grow up if they don’t learn the consequences to their actions, and it’s parents’ responsibility allow their kids to learn from their mistakes.  Having said that, it may not be so black and white that it’s the parents’ fault or the “kids'”, it’s probably a certain combination of the two and their attitudes.

What are your thoughts on parenting “fails”?  Do you have anyone in your family who hasn’t learned to “grow up”?



Filed under Personal

3 responses to “Thoughts on Parenting “Fails”

  1. sfbnurse

    hi there! interesting post for a lot of reasons for me, mostly to do with my profession but also because i come from a family with a brother with disabilities who still lives at home and could be seen from the outside as a “parenting fail”.
    i am a critical care nurse, and as such, i see A LOT of different families (and family) dynamics, and each family is different and even more interestingly each family member acts a bit different around each other person. stressful situations, like your grandmother’s death, often bring out long hidden or forgotten feelings or even grudges and everyone handles them differently. it may seem to you like your aunt is lazy or unmotivated but it leaps of the screen to me that she may have a mental illness or cognitive disability. i am just guessing about that, but her behaviours throughout her life are not the norm and when someone leads an entire life outside the norm it’s usually because they have some sort of disability. if she did/does have a disability she would have been treated differently and held to an entirely different set of expectations than any of her other siblings and therefore would have grown up to act and react in entire different ways.
    my younger brother has epilepsy and a cognitive disability and as such was treated ENTIRELY differently than my other brother and i; he is now an adult but is very, very, very different from us. for a long time i thought that my mother’s babying of him and his living at home and doing little but watching tv was due to laziness was ridiculous and unfair, and i looked at it as a “parenting fail”. i have gained some perspective on the situation and have come to realize that we all grow up differently, have different paths that are largely formed by the expectations put on us by our parents and families, sometimes these paths are limited by outside influences, like disabilities. the thing about being only on my path is that i cannot truly understand anyone else’s, i don’t know how many uphills, downhills, dead ends, or potholes there were on their path. i may have even closely seen their path, like i did with my brother, but i did not walk it myself. i didn’t have seizures once a month my whole life, or get rushed to the ER for not breathing, or have exploratory brain surgery when i was 12 years old; i can only imagine those struggles. i think too often we judge others from our paths and when we do we always judge to harshly and in hindsight.
    anyway, i am now of track a bit! what i really, really, really want to say is that likely your aunt and family need to communicate, be compassionate, and hear each others feelings and expectations; those are the HARDEST things any of us will ever do.
    best of luck to your whole family 🙂
    p.s. driving to do your kids laundry every weekend is TOO much “support”, i’m just guessing type A mother that can’t stand to think of her sons undies unfolded…. yep, that was judgemental of me!

  2. My brother at 25 has yet to grow up. He lives with my mother, has no job, and therefore pays no rent. When he’s had jobs in the past (which as he has no access to a computer, I have had to find and apply for jobs for him) he would work until he got paid and then went on a drinking binge which usually left him too hungover to work and subsequentially getting fired. This has happened at least 5 times. Yet, my mother always sticks up for him and lets him stay there eating her food and using her stuff. Heck, he doesn’t even mow the lawn or help clean!

    I completely agree with your statement that if “kids” continue to be treated like children they will forever remain as “kids”. I hope I won’t continue the tradition (my Grandmother also treated her full-grown sons like children) of this parenting fail if I have a boy!

  3. Kay

    Yep, plenty. It’s unfortunate that I do know what spoon feeding and never letting children grow into adults resulted in. Many cousins and siblings-in-law to prove the point.

    When we lived in an apartment in Toronto, I had the opportunity to watch a pigeon lay eggs, which hatched. Then she fed them bugs and such every day. Then she taught the young birds to fly, she’d PUSH them to fly. The birdlings finally learnt to fly. After a while, she pushed them out of her nest.

    I was pregnant at the time and watched these unfold. It was very thought provoking for me as a to-be parent.. What would have happened if she didnt teach her young ones to fly? They’d be dependent on her the whole of her life and then, wouldn’t know the art of survival. This is exactly what happened with my the lives of my cousins and siblings in law.

    My parents brought up their two daughters in a different way than their son – my kiddo brother. Me and my sister are on our own feet and help out our parents when ‘need’ed. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that my kiddo brother doesn’t end up in the way of my cousins.

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