It’s retribution, I tell you.
You instil certain principles in your children.
And then they grow up and use those very principles against you.
Take the case of the rabbit.
We raised our children to be kind to animals. We forgot to mention that kindness might have limits — when the wild rabbit ignores the grass and clover and eats its merciless way through your vegetable and flower garden, for example.
So we set a humane trap, meaning to entice the rabbit with carrots, then trap it, and bring it safely to a nearby park.
“W-what?” Asked younger daughter in outraged tones. “You do realize that when you move the rabbit from his territory, you’re sentencing him to death? He won’t cope and will be eaten by predators!”
God forbid we should become murderers, even while attacked by marauding rabbits.
And then there was that time I generalized about a whole group of people.
“M-mum!” said older daughter, shocked and appalled. “You, of all people! You, who taught me to never stereotype, never generalize. I cannot believe it!”
I tell you: It’s enough to make a person raise their kids without any principles at all.
And then there’s Meghan Markle’s father, Thomas, and his Very Tough Time. His daughter recently married a British prince and he feels excluded because she hasn’t called recently.
Meghan has repeatedly praised her parents for raising her with strong values: the importance of hard work, discernment, dignity, humanitarianism. And their daughter seems caring, accomplished, dignified. She excelled as an actor, blogger and humanitarian, recently married a British prince in a ceremony watched by millions (including myself) around the world, and became the duchess of Sussex.
All parents want to be loved and respected by their offspring. No-one wants to be left behind. But Thomas’ revenge included a 9-hour interview with the same newspaper who led an 18-month-long smear campaign against his daughter.
Yes, he admitted, I made a little mistake. I took money from the media for staged photos, disgracing her just before her wedding. Then I didn’t show up to walk her down the aisle. Then I blabbed her private affairs to the media. Then I publicly insulted her, her mother and her royal in-laws.
But I helped raise her, and paid her school fees; she owes me. If she continues refusing to talk to me, I’ll just inflict more hurt. Publicly.
Meanwhile, the duchess seems to be holding her father to certain values. Dignity and discernment, for starters.
Parenting may be the toughest and most expensive job in the world. We do our best for our children, but the time and money we give cannot buy their souls.
When they’re hurt because we don’t practice what we preach, the least we can do — painful though it is — is to humbly reflect on our missteps, find the grace to admit our errors, and make amends.