Parenting and International Relations

I’m a parent. All of my children are adults.

Some people say that everything they needed to know, they learned in kindergarten. Not so much for me – I guess I’m a slow learner.

With my kids, I was involved in their schooling, their sports, their music, and their–well, whatever–for many years. When they moved away for the first, second or whatever time, I thought my responsibilities were over. And they truly were, whether I admitted it or not.

However, we parents still worry about our kids as they head off to college, rent their first apartment, get their first utility bills, enlist in the military, get married, change jobs and…and…and. In spite of an overwhelming desire to scream, “DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA AS TO WHAT YOU’RE DOING?” we keep our comments to ourselves, but wait silently for them to ask for our advice (which they rightly expect to ignore, just as we did with our parents).

Generation after generation, against all odds, tends to turn out pretty-not-too-bad. There are some examples of incredible success, some examples of abject (even criminal) failure, and a whole lot of people who turn out as well as you and me. (Or should that be ‘you and I’? Never mind.)

When my children left, I had an overwhelming desire to figure out a way unscrew the top of my skull and pour my hard earned experience into their heads. I couldn’t. Even worse, they were all the better for it because they had to decide what was important to them. They had to grow into the adult they were meant to be, not who I thought they should be.

Afghanistan is in a similar situation. I’m not claiming that Afghanistan is America’s child, but we have invested in them and the hope for their future. I’m sure Great Britain felt the same about America in the 1770’s, but we ignored them and found our own way (with occasional successes). We did not wish to be a Britain, even with all it had to offer.We wanted to be us.

I don’t know what the future holds for the Afghans, but I sincerely hope they find their way to who they wish to be.

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