Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Two Kinds of Regret

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.....


Kathleen said...

"It ain't over 'til the fat lady sings."

I tell people this, in a vareity of ways, all the time these days. As we approached our 10 yr adoption anniversary (4 sibs, RAD, ODD, ADHD, etc etc), my only advice to prospective adoptive parents would've been, "DON'T!"

As we approach anniversary 12 - WOW, what a difference. There IS hope; it ain't over 'til it's over.

However... what we struggle with as a couple, on the regrets and doing too much / too little, is

1) We're still not always on the same page regarding what's too much and what's too little

2) "Too much" for one kid can lead to regrets about "too little" for other kids - or spouse!


J. said...

well said - as usual.

Paula said...

This is so very true Claudia. I always tell parents, "You are not responsible for the results, you are only responsible for doing your part." And for me, that means I will probably beat my head against the wall with a lot of children, but in the end I will still do better knowing that I did my best.

The other thing I've found out too, is even if my kids don't do the things I'd like them to all the time, at least they know what's right and wrong.

My belief, and it may be wrong, is that my kids are still doing better than if they had never been adopted. I have fought for services and given them opportunities that they would never have had in foster care.

In the end though, they have a family who loves them, someone they can always call for advice and they have been taught about our Savior.

robyncalgary said...

good post :)

DynamicDuo said...

I have to side with Paula on this one, we have been blessed so far and truly we have beaten the statistics with our girls. (FASD, RAD, DCD, CAPD ....)
Our girls will be 17 in June, so far no involvement with the law, no s.ex, social services, medications , hospitalization etc.
While our girls may yet travel that hard, lonely road the statistics tell us, we have the knowledge that they know that they are loved, that they have a home, and that we will always be here. They also will know that we tried our hardest and our best, we never gave up.

Anonymous said...

When I start thinking like this-look at them, what a mess, fat lot of good all my hard work was-my therapist stops me. She tells me not to measure them by society's standards. She reminds me that Marc and I have given them things no one can ever take away. Becasue of our efforts, they know what it is to be loved unconditionally, fought for and celebrated. Once, many years ago, another therapsit told me, "You're saving their lives, Lynne. It's not going to be easy." He wasn't just a whistlin' Dixie.

I know how you feel, Friend. But, thy not to have any regret at all. You saved their lives. The fact that they choose not to do anything with that is on them. I know that there are moments when that doesn't make much difference to your heart.

I have the privelage of doing some pre adoptive training too. I tell parents if they feel strongly they should do it, then they should do it. I tell them they will need a lot of support and I mean support from other parents with similar kids. I tell them to get their team in place now and take some classes so they understand how to advocate effectively. I do not share my war stories.

Give yourself some grace, Friend. You did your best. Results are God's job. :)

Penelope said...

Great post! Sometimes as parents we have to have a little encouragement that we are all the best we can. I would love for you to link up a post to our blog hop dealing with emotions.