It won’t always be easy, good parenting never is. When you make a choice for your family, you will immediately receive push-back from someone. If you decide to err on the side of caution and make strict rules and a secure environment, your kids will rail against it, call you unfair and generally make your life hell. If you choose an easier route, allowing your children more freedom and the ability to learn their own lessons, you will immediately get criticism and condemnation from all the U2C’s(Upright, Uptight Citizens), but here is the catch. There is no RIGHT way to parent. There is no easy way. There is only the way you choose to do it, with the data you have right now.
If you are too strict, your kids will initially rebel, and that is hell. If you are too lax, your children will eventually be spoiled, and that also is hell. I learned a long time ago that you can always start out strict and ease up but if you start out easy, getting firm later is way harder to do and gets a lot more hate and pushback, so if you have to error, do it on the side of caution and start out stricter. No matter what you do, you won’t keep everyone happy all the time, so resign yourself to being a little hated and get to work.
The one thing that I find critical is to have your parenting partner on board with you. If you are in a situation like me, married only once. No steps, mom and dad are in the same house. You will find that when you start down the active parenting path if your spouse isn’t on board, you will get nothing but frustration. Whatever I do that my wife isn’t in complete locked step with is immediately undone, sometimes by accident, often on purpose, but all my hard work is for nothing if the two of us aren’t in agreement. This often causes grief for me, as I want to handle something the way I decide it should be. She disagrees, and one of us ends up less than happy. To combat this, we talk everything thru deeply and exhaustingly before we take the first step. Because of this deliberate thought-then-action process, we never move swiftly. We may have a reaction to a current situation, then undo or change our solution, but that is just life. This does cause mixed signals to our children sometimes, but we would rather have to explain ourselves twice than to let something go unchecked or to over-react. Also, we speak to our children like regular people all the time and encourage discussion, so explaining ourselves to them is not as difficult. The one thing that we tell all our children is that we are NOT PERFECT. We are human; we fail, we are never perfect. We do however TRY to be the best we can, and even though we make mistakes, we do it with the intent of doing good. We believe that even if our kids end up in therapy for some things we handle wrong, we will be able to sleep at night knowing that we had their best interests in mind and we did our level best.
Also, even though we think and talk through every step, we still mess up in the application, contradicting ourselves and each other, you know, like people. Example: We recently went out of town. My daughter began Instagramming photos of things along the way, I mildly chastised her for it, explaining that if we post on social media that we are leaving town, people will have less trouble knowing when our house is empty and therefore we leave ourself vulnerable to a home invasion. Also, if we post things along the way, people can track where we are, and gauge how long we will be gone, the potential dangers here are vast. She understands and agrees to save the photos and share them after our trip. An hour later, I am on Facebook and see that my wife has posted a check-in from our last stop with a nice post detailing exactly where we are going, how long we will be gone and how and when we will be returning… No matter how well intentioned we are, we will never be perfect.
So how do you do your own parenting thing? Talk to your children, talk to your spouse, talk to experts, then choose a plan and follow it. Do it with your eyes wide open. Do it on purpose. Choose actively the course you want to take, then take it. When you think you need too, reevaluate it. Make corrections if you need too, then continue. Make your decisions with the outcome in mind. With love, with compassion, and with purpose. Then shoulder into the onslaught of BS that the world and your kids will throw at you and stay your course. You will not wholly win, you will not wholly loose, but whatever your outcome, your family will know you love them. It will be obvious when they are grown because they will be able to see the choices you made, right or wrong, and they will see why you made them. They will be able to assess the climate you made them in, and see for themselves that you did it out of love.
As for the BS and pushback you will get from everyone else, well most people that either don’t have kids, or disengaged parents believe all the pop-culture hype about parenting, they are the same people who follow the latest fad diet without doing any research. My advice there is to just ignore the hate. The rest of the world will want you to do it their way, or some other way. They will have input and criticism, they will quote one celebrity or another, but celebrity status doesn’t make them an expert, it just makes their noise louder and more often heard. It doesn’t make them right. We all know celebrities like Jenny McCarthy and Dr. Oz, and we all are aware of their opinions and thoughts on parenting. This is because they have a platform, an audience, not because celebrities are experts (or even smart). Ultimately, the responsibility, hard work, pride, and the shame belongs solely to the parent, YOU. It isn’t the fake doctor on TV that gave the famous free advice that gets to claim the victory of a wonderful new citizen contributing to society. It also isn’t that famous former model that has to face the law and the burden of responsibility when your child tries to set the world on fire. Those responsibilities all belong solely to you. Therefore, Parent Your Way. Do it with your eyes wide open and your brain fully engaged. Think it all thru, then act, but always with LOVE.
Categories: Parenting Thoughts