I watch This is Us every week and it amazes me every time how much as parents we can probably all identify with Jack and Rebecca. Around one of the last episodes my husband said how Jack and Rebecca did “everything they could for those kids.” They obviously loved their children and were parents that I’d say gave it their best every chance they had. But despite their obvious love for their children and their greatest efforts they still made mistakes, and they still made choices that hurt their children in the moment and long term later down the road.
Isn’t that so many of us though?
I look at my parents who I feel obviously love their children and gave us a great childhood. They did the best they could, but they weren’t perfect either. Just as my husband and I love our children and are doing the best we possibly can, we still make mistakes and make choices that may hurt them in the moment or much later down the road.
It’s hard enough to meet one child’s individual needs, and as much as we want to “treat” our children the same, they all have their individual different needs. Different children require different things from us, and we see Jack and Rebecca struggle with how to parent each child differently but fairly. We also see how incredibly hard this task truly is.
I think trying to figure out how to love our children the same, yet treat them differently according to their different individual needs is possibly one of the greatest challenges of parenthood. I often wonder if we will spend our whole lives questioning our choices and parenting, wondering if we did right by each of our children.
Did we give them what they each needed?
Did they feel loved for who they were despite whatever their individual differences and imperfections may be?
The Pearsons-are so many of us. Working hard, doing our best, loving our family with everything we have. But the truth is each of our realities are all different. We all have our own demons; we’re all a little broken in some way. No matter how picture perfect any of our family lives may be we each fight our own inner battle.
The theme of self-identity in here screamed out at me in the very beginning with the three siblings. I imagine as siblings all the same age, the search for who they are and where they fit in the dynamic of the family and then the world is possibly an earlier battle for sense of self than some of us experience.
I think we’re all on a search for self at various points in our lives; it’s a struggle I don’t believe any of us are immune to. Our role as parents in that journey for our kids’ terrifies me. We provide them the building blocks with how we build them up or tear them down for them to construct who they become.
But as Randall shows, despite our mistakes and our own imperfections as humans and parents, loving and continuing to love our children is what will lead to their forgiving hearts. But I think our love for them doesn’t just lead to them forgiving our mistakes as their parents and accepting us, but also why as adults they will become compassionate and forgiving adults themselves more willing to look past others’ mistakes and struggles to see others for the more complex person they are- not just a drug addict, not just a heavier set woman or man, not just a black man. We are all so much more than those labels the world gives us.
Love is the greatest thing we can give our children as parents. We’ll make mistakes, we as individuals and families will never be perfect, but that imperfect love is what teaches them forgiveness, compassion, and acceptance- so many things needed in this complex, imperfect world we live in. This Is Us really is the show all parents need right now.
Bio: Angela Williams Glenn writes about the struggles and joys of motherhood on her website Stepping into Motherhood. Her book Moms, Monsters, Media, and Margaritas examines the expectations verse the realities of motherhood in our modern day digital era. She’s also been published with Chicken Soup for the Soul, Lose the Cape, and Red Tricycle. You can follow her on facebook.