Parents Are Human, Too: Why We Need To Realize They Make Mistakes Just Like We Do

by Sara Bosco

Do you remember when you first mastered every letter of the alphabet? Or had that epiphany when you realized teachers don’t actually live under their desks?

Everyone experiences individual journeys of intellectual enlightenment, learning simple and complex truths through a series of life lessons, at school and otherwise.

Some truths can seem, in the moment, impossible to bear. Take for example the first moment you learn that little brothers actually grow up, as captured in this adorable, now viral, home video.

Behind the toddler’s impossibly cute, blubbering pleas to keep her brother exactly how he is for all eternity, is a hidden desire that resonates within all of us.

Families, and the relationships within them, are complicated and laden with emotion. As disastrous as growing up may seem to the big sis, the relationship between those siblings will continue to evolve, as will their relationships with their parents.

It must be true

As children, we’re all sponges soaking up every bit of information. It’s easy to accept designated "truths" at face value without the capacity or courage to question and consider.

One of those truths I took to be true, luckily for my mom and dad, was that my parents were my authority. They were admirable people with the ability to know everything and they were invincible in their ability to fix anything.

As they made very clear, until I left for college, they wrote my law and had control over my bill of rights, which I always found included more prohibitions than privileges. It's something I appreciate now far more than I did as a teen.

Playing by the rules

There is an invisible barrier that exists between a child and a parent, whether the bill of rights bestowed on you was strict, as it was for me, or lenient. Learning how to obey, finagle and maneuver at a younger age is crucial to being told “yes” instead of “no,” whether you cared for the permission before acting or not.

Forget the basketball court; navigating through a parental relationship during the most awkward and influx stages of life is probably our first crash course in learning how to play by the rules.

Different circumstances, same result

Fate decides the lot you’re handed in life. Some seek approval from a single mom or dad, while others, without either, look toward another role model. No matter the circumstance, that unquestioned barrier that exists between the dependent and the authority figure or role model breaks down.

It erodes increasingly as life goes on, slowly at first from the intricacies of everyday life, more so after witnessing obvious blunders and even more in times of tragedy.

Whether it happens over a heated political debate or during a trip to the grocery store, there’s a point when it hits you with an enormous thud: Parents are only human.

The “aha” moment

In my experience, it started when I first saw my parents cry and heard doubt in their voices when they said, “It’s going to be okay,” as we first saw images of the Twin Towers crumbling.

It continued when I realized I was better suited to dictate my college path; a more adventurous one than the closer-to-home route my parents ached for me to choose.

Parents cry? I guess they’re not invincible. Parents fail? I knew they weren’t all-knowing! Parents worry? Maybe they can’t fix everything.

There was no one moment when I realized it. Rather, it came to me as I digested those moments reflectively from a freshman year dorm room on Commonwealth Ave in Boston.

Mutual understanding

That’s also when I noticed something else: All of a sudden, my parents started asking me for advice -- and actually listening. They even trusted me to travel alone, a big deal for someone not allowed to have sleepovers in middle school. They let me make my own career decisions and mistakes.

All of these moments led me to realize that they came to see me as more than a just a child that needs caring for, but an actual independent human, as well. Some kids see, or even look for the weaknesses in their parents from the womb, while others see them as untouchable heroes for decades.

While the relationship is a complicated one, it is tender and important, too. It has the ability to shape so much of how you mature into your 20s, when you start realizing you might soon be in their shoes.

And you know you've reached that point when you shift from being embarrassed of their quirks to celebrating, appreciating and missing them, every single day.

They may be human, but they are ours. As the saying goes, the truth is in the eye of the beholder. While I’ll concede they are not invincible; in my eyes, they’re superhuman.

Photo Courtesy: We Heart It