Recently I have had a spate of events that have led me to this blog. It’s not my usual blog, nor is it about my family, but I feel compelled to write this one, so here goes.
It was inspired by parents who expect teachers to do their work for them. Or au paires. Or grandparents. Or even each other, but without either actually taking responsibility.
Parenting is the most important job you have. It is YOUR job. YOU chose to have children. YOU are responsible for them.
No, it is not easy. And no, it is not always fun. But it is your responsibility. Too many parents these days ‘cop out’. They are too tired, or too stressed, or don’t want to fight, or don’t want to upset the kids, or feel guilty because they haven’t spent enough time with their children, and so they just don’t do the work.
You have to do the work.
Did you have that friend at high school or varsity who you thought was SOOOOO lucky because their parents let them do whatever they liked? They could go out late, and stay up late, and stay at your house all weekend for a sleepover! We always thought ‘wow, they are so lucky! Their parents are so cool!’ But their kid… usually they said “oh my parents don’t care what time I go to bed! Or what time I stay out until. Or if I sleep out all weekend!” But really the message they got was “my parents don’t care”. And it made them sad.
A child who has no limits or boundaries feels like their parents don’t actually care, and so they usually do one of two things. Either they become total pleasers, and try anything and everything to excel and achieve just to get SOME attention. To be noticed and feel like they are cared about and loved. Or they become rebels. Pushing and pushing at those boundaries to find out where exactly they end, and at what point exactly someone will say “STOP! That is enough!”
I had one of those friends at school. She was bright, and lovely. A really special girl. But her parents were too caught up in trying to hold on to their youth and be ‘cool’ that they didn’t ‘care’ what she did. She could go anywhere and do whatever. She thought it was cool in the beginning, and so did we. But when I was about 19, I bumped into her one night. We had a drink and caught up and she asked “So how is the love life?” (meaning sex life), and I said “Nope… still haven’t”… and she was shocked. But then she said something to me which has stuck with me forever. She said “You know what Nat… you are so lucky. I’m 19, and I have been everywhere, seen everything and done everything, and I have nothing left to look forward to.” I was gobsmacked. And in that moment I was particularly grateful for all those no’s my folks said. All those rules they imposed… OK almost all 🙂 But seriously, overall I just felt so sad for her. Here we were, recently finished school, and we were really at the point where you START life. And she felt like she had nothing left to look forward to. It was so so sad to me.
If we don’t give our children limits and boundaries, they will ultimately end up becoming insecure. They will believe no one cares, and no one loves them.
So stop trying to be the ‘cool parent’. Stop giving in and worrying that you are always saying “NO” and being the bad guy. You need to implement boundaries. You need to say yes and no to what is right and wrong.
You need to do your job. You brought them into your world, planned or not you chose to raise them, now you need to do right by them. They will be grateful one day…