I failed him as a parent…

My brother

“Me and my brother” by Jumpintotheotherside on Etsy. Click to view

I failed him as a parent.

He fell through the cracks in school, he might have had a learning disability, it’s not clear.  But you know how struggle and failure, end to end, over and over, changes you… your attitude, your choices, your willingness to be open and try.  He changed.

It was hard.  He was sent away from me.  He got into trouble, trouble I couldn’t keep him from or deal with.

He grew to a teenager.  One night at a party, he drank too much, went out on the porch for fresh air.  But it wasn’t a porch, it was a roof and he slipped.  Nothing was ever the same. The ambulance driver knew his dad.

First responder

First Resonder Metal Wall Art by Iron Exile on Etsy. Click to view.

When his dad got to the hospital and saw the gravel still stuck in his boy’s face, he fainted.  His dad… well, his dad is my dad.  My brother slipped.

Divorce naturally puts the oldest kid in position of helper, caretaker.  A sort of parent.  I swore I would do it “right” the next time.  And so, before I had kids, before the 7 years of infertility and baby chase, decades before I met my current amazing Running Mate, before I finally got pregnant, and before my first kid came early, I was preparing to be a helicopter parent.

So when you see us at the playground, ensuring our kid gets their turn in line; sanitizing their hands every few minutes; running around behind them with our hands outstretched, palms up, to catch them; going down the slide backwards in front of them to clear any pebbles and not let them out of our sight; unpacking an enormous bag of wipes, snacks, drinks, stuffed animals, jackets, hats, band-aids and supplies — be gentle in your criticism.  I was doing what I clearly saw as  BEST for my child, even if it had everything to do with me.

And if you want to jump out of the helicopter with me, come on over to join Funnermother on facebook or sign up for my weekly-ish E-zine.



17 thoughts on “I failed him as a parent…

  1. What a story. I can only image how that feels.
    To some degree I helicoptered our kids growing up but in some ways I feel as if I hadn’t I wouldn’t have learned that my son was struggling in school and really needed to be in a better place that worked for him.
    Eight years later I’m thankful that I watched, checked in and stayed very present throughout his middle school years. He’s now in college and excelling.
    I’m fortunate I’ve had the chance to see his transformation.

    Thanks for sharing this very touching post!


    • Jeannie, thank you for your comment. It can be a fine line between being really present and helicoptering. And when trouble starts to brew, it’s hard to — and sometimes not even appropriate to — back off. Generally, helicoptering is “so helpful it hurts” — I think you’re good! But, I think if you start calling potential employers for your son, then you will have crossed the line! Haha. Thanks again. x a


  2. Thank you for sharing your powerful and personal story. As someone who conceived as quickly as we thought about it, and did not endure the traumatic event of a sibling, your caution of my judgement is heard, loud and clear. Our world is so quick to label and judge parenting, without ever understanding the background or beliefs behind the choice.


    • Thank you for reading and commenting, Aly. You put your finger exactly on the wound I want to work on healing — the judgement and scorn between moms. We will change the world when we drop that crap and work together. 🙂 THanks again, xx Angela


  3. Angela, I can really relate to this. It is a fine line between loving, nurturing and being a really good parent and being a helicopter parent. Sometimes it’s hard to remember that children need to learn to think for themselves and solve their own problems.

    Above all, we need to be careful about judging others. Because we haven’t walked in their shoes, we only imagine what their life is like, but we really have no idea. If we all Walked in Love, it would make the world a whole lot better.


    • Elizabeth, thank you for your comments. My hope is that we moms (heck, we people!) can cut each other some slack, simply operating on the fact that we don’t know the whole story. So that’s the space I want to write into, and you have seen it and named it beautifull …walking in love. Thank you! xx a


  4. Angela, thank for sharing this poignant, heartfelt personal story! Very powerful message here! As parents I think it can be so easy to criticize and be harsh with ourselves (as well as other people perhaps looking on with a critical eye) and I love the gentleness your show towards yourself in this story! As a recovering helicopter parent myself, I can really relate!!


    • Gabrielle, Thank you for your comment. My “Running Mate” says frequently “it’s easy to be critical” and that’s the thing I want to trouble — that if we knew more, we just wouldn’t be. Thank you for reading and sharing your thoughts. xx a


  5. Angela this is such a touching story. I’m sorry you experienced this type of loss, especially at a young age. I hope you’ve given yourself the space to release your self blame. How insightful that you’ve connected to your adult self and parenting. It’s so easy to be the critic, never considering what the individual is experiencing. Thank you for sharing that message so beautifully. xoxo


    • Elaine, thank you for reading and for your comments. One of the most surprising parts of parenting has been all the judgement that folks feel completely entitled to speak aloud, whether they know you or not. So that is the space in which I feel I have something to say. Scream. I so appreciate your thoughtful reading. xx a


  6. Thank you for shared this. I’m so sorry for your loss.

    Recently I wrote a blog post about my learning disability and how one of my boys is showing signs. I’m probably going over the top making sure he gets extra help because I never got any. It can be hard not to overcompensate because of experiences that are still raw and life changing. You’re doing a great job 🙂


    • Deb, thank you for your comment. I feel like the grownups raising the next generation need to work together more than they need to be judgy mcJudgepants. 🙂 We are doing our best (mostly)! 🙂 Thanks, Angela


  7. Pingback: The New Judgement Zone: Parents in the Public Eye | Funnermother™: let's get fun!

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