Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Too Many Parents

I spend a great deal of my time with young people between the ages of 12 and 22. I hear lots of things as I interact with them in myriad situations and circumstances – mostly upbeat and funny. However, as life continually unfolds before and between us we are visited by events not so lovely. Sadly, these events confront us more than we wish – more than we can sometimes handle. Amidst the vitality, vigor and hope of youth come the dark shadows of car accidents, drug addiction, gravely ill parents, divorce and other forms of grief and pain. This being the season of graduation we keep busy and focused on the near future – a future that will see many leave the fold and wander out into this big old world. There is so much anticipation and uncertainty in the air that there is precious little time for reflection. I, however, was forced into such a space by the words I shared recently with a dear, young friend. A week before her graduation she looked sad and detached. Surely, I thought, this is a natural state-of-mind for a teenager moving through such a monumental moment and preparing for a new chapter. But when I asked about her countenance she gave me a curios response: ‘I have too many parents, Thom.’ I gently asked for further clarification. ‘Well, so many people show up at these events and they want to do nice things for me and they want to claim me but I just get agitated and sad. I guess I should be grateful but it’s kind of hard.’ I told her that I understood and explained what I thought she was saying to me. ‘Yeah, basically that’s it,’ and then she told me some things I already knew – but I didn’t really know. ‘After they got divorced my parents got re-married and then my mom got divorced again and is married again. I loved my first step-dad – he was a great guy but he got married again, too. So, I show up at these graduation events and my mom’s there with her 3rd husband that I hardly know, my dad’s there with his 2nd wife who wants me to call her Mom but I don’t want to and then my step-dad is there with his new wife who I really just met. So, I’ve got like 6 parents with all their advice and then a bunch of my stepbrothers and stepsisters come along and it’s just too much. It’s too much – too many parents.’ 
I condemn no one. But I must ask, oh my, what are we doing; oh my, what have we done? The acceptable term in our oh-so-tolerant society is The Extended Family. But there is a sub-category: The Stretched Children of Tolerance – stretched to the point of breaking. This is a mighty cross to bear.


Blogger Neil M. said...

wow, Thom. that was a great post.


May 20, 2009 at 12:25 PM  

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