LIFE IN THE SANDWICH: The Sting of Parental Karma

How what goes around, comes around, especially with parenting.

My basic understanding of karma is what goes around comes around; actions taken now affect the future. I believe in a very specific, heretofore undefined, type of karma known to me as parental karma.

Parental karma is a cosmic slap in the face and gets me every time. Here is the basic principle behind parental karma – every time I criticize another person’s child or another person’s parenting style, it comes right back at me with a stinging blow.

My son is generally a well-behaved kid, although he’s had his moments of misbehavior. One particularly funny karmic event took place when he was only in kindergarten (not in our fabulous ). We were living in Grapevine, TX at the time.

I overheard a couple of the other kids in the class using bad language on the playground. This is bad language for kindergarteners, not sailors, but still shocking. I told a couple of other moms how appalled I was by these kids' language.

Sure enough, it didn’t take karma long to bite me soon after I made the comment.

A couple of weeks later, my son Paul brings home a note from school. This note is in the teacher’s handwriting with the tracings of pen in a child’s handwriting over her letters. “Dear Mom, today I missed center time because I called my friend an ass. I told him I was sorry and I won’t do it again. Love, Paul,” the note said.

I called the teacher to find out the details.

It turns out he did use the word in the proper context during a conversation with a classmate, so he deserved the punishment. I then thanked the teacher for not only letting him know he used the word correctly but also for teaching him how to spell it.

Parental karma seems to find me most often when I’m critical. I mean when I give advice to someone else on parenting.

My friends all have older teens at this point. It’s hard to control when they go to bed but we try.

A friend was telling me how late her son stayed up doing homework, and I told her how I thought that was awful and that he needed more sleep.

A few nights later, my son’s bedroom light was still on at 1 a.m. and when I opened the door, he was doing homework. Thanks karma.

I believe parental karma will continue to teach me lessons for the rest of my life because I have a suspicion parental karma becomes grandparental karma, if I am so blessed.

The bottom line: While I hate the sting of parental karma when it comes around, I appreciate that it makes me a better parent and a better person.


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