I have a few of my adult kids who make me wonder sometimes why I worked so hard to keep them out of trouble. Ten years ago I was busting my butt to make sure they did what they were supposed to do to keep them away from the life they are currently living. And it didn't make any difference. And there are days when I regret all the effort I put into that project that at this time feels like a huge failure.
I was watching the Biggest Loser last night (I know, I know, weird culture we live in where we define entertainment as watching fat people cry, but it's my only two hours of TV a week). Watching them and their ups and downs and struggles is kind of a microcosm of many situations in life. If you've been following the show, last night, because of a weird turn of circumstances, one of the girls had to go home before anyone thought she should. But SHE was ok with it. She had no regrets. She knew she had given it 100%. And I thought about the regret that she would have had if she had slacked off last week...
I was thinking about both of these things this morning and realized that there are two kinds of regret: Regret for doing too much, and regret for not doing enough. And if I'm going to have regrets, I'd rather regret doing more than I should have than not doing enough.
It's a tricky situation now, talking to new adoptive parents, because with some of them I know where they are headed. I don't really believe, for example, that there are a lot of reasons to hold out hope for huge success for kids with the RAD and FASD combo. But what I want to try to do is to help parents find the balance between doing all you can as to not have regrets and letting go of needing to have visible results to feel good about yourself as a parent.
Could it work out that you bust your butt for ten years to end up having a child who visibly has no success compared to the rest of society? Sure it could. But if you focus on the relationship you have with that child instead of the behavior you might have a child who loves you, has you as a support, and will do much better with you than if they didn't have you.
But the key, at the end of the day - whenever the "weigh in" is, so to speak, is to know you've done your best. That you held out hope, kept believing, encouraging, prodding, advocating, and loving... no matter what.
I believe that is what we are asked to do... and the results? Well, do we really know the end result if our child is 20 or even 30 or 40 or 50? Nope. Cuz it ain't over until the fat lady sings.....