How do you know if you are raising good kids? How do you know that you aren’t screwing them up day after day with the choices you make? And how do you know if they are going to blame you (their parent) for all of their problems later in life?
Multiple times a day, every day, we make decisions that shape our children into the adults they will become. In the short term, the effects of our daily decisions are mostly able to be seen through our children’s behaviors. Therefore, allowing us the ability to right our wrongs and when needed, change our course. But occasionally, the choices we make seemingly have no influence on our children in the present, and return to haunt us later in life.
Example: Forcing your child to sit in the soccer circle. No immediate effects. Fast forward to 2033… “To this day, I can still remember you putting me on the floor with those other kids in the middle of the gym, then turning your back on me and walking to the perimeter to just look at me. Staring at me with those eyes that say ‘if you move your ass I’m gonna take away the iPad for the rest of the week’. And that, Mom, is why every time I even consider sitting Indian-style to this day I shudder and frantically look around for my iPad! Oh, right, AND IT’S ALL YOUR FAULT!”
How do you know when you are in that situation?
So much about parenting is common sense. Baby cries – feed it, sleep it, burp it and cuddle it. Toddler cries – give it a routine, a snack, a nap and a cuddle. Meet your child’s basic needs first, then set some boundaries and wrap it up in a love blanket. With such a simplistic approach and understanding of kids, why do we still question every single move we make, wondering if it was right or wrong?
Because… we live in a time where practically everyone has a problem, and practically every solution is in the form of a pill. During the process of evaluating these problems, childhood is a topic that is explored under a microscope (cue mom and dad). In my opinion, this becomes the place where it is easiest for professionals to find an excuse for adulthood behaviors, but doesn’t address the wide number of possibilities that could actually attribute to said problems of the present.
Example: Adult has skid stains in his tighty-whities. It’s traumatizing for said adult to have intimate encounters with women for fear that his secret smears will be unearthed. Adult cries during therapy about the trauma. Therapist blames Mom for wiping Adult’s ass until he was six. Actual problem – Mom should have taught the damn kid how to do his own laundry correctly!
So while we sit and watch TV night after night, we wonder if we’re screwing up our children enough to become an inspiration for the next Unsub on Criminal Minds. The worrying about our children’s future is normal. Irrational behaviors to prevent misfortune from happening to our little darlings in the future is not. I happen to be a believer in all things Universe, including the following popular phrases:
- If it was meant to be it will be
- It is what it is
- You are exactly where you are supposed to be
- Everything happens for a reason
Therefore, I try my damnedest to convince myself of just those sayings every time I start to worry that I am screwin’ those boys right up! Their paths are pre-determined (for the most part) and it may be that I have very little to do with their futures.
I do however, have a lot to do with how they ACT in those futures. Parker might be a banker either way you look at it, but will he be a polite and respectful banker or a sloppy, foul-mouthed banker? “Do as I say, not as I do” – an age-old idiom told by parents to their snarky tweens and teens.
It’s very apparent to me how our words and actions affect our children when I hear some of the following phrases come out of the mouths of my 3 and 5 year olds:
- You’re a bad girl mommy –
- I have tried to change my phrases to things like “you are acting badly” as opposed to “you are a bad boy”. It seems to work when you tell your husband, “I said you were acting like a jerk, not that your are a jerk. Big difference honey.”
- Jesus Christ Connor, why did you color outside the lines? – lord almighty, I hope Parker never says that! But they both have murmured “Jeeesus” before when they aren’t too pleased about something. We usually just make eye contact and exchange a silent exchange… yes, you know you shouldn’t say that, but I know it’s my fault that you did, so you are not in trouble…
- Mommy, I think you are beautiful – When little boys act like their daddy’s… Bonus! Our kids mimic our bad and good behavior.
Bottom line for me though is wondering if I will ever get out alive. I’m pretty sure these two are going to eat me for dinner one of these days. And it’s not that they are ravenous munchkins with cannibalistic tendencies, chewing on my ankles night after night. It’s more like they are going to pull the last straw one day, the camel’s back is going to snap and they will finally understand that Mommy wasn’t kidding, they will be the death of her. So instead of getting in trouble for causing Mommy’s fatal breakdown, they eat her for dinner so there won’t be any evidence. Mommy’s reputation will be tarnished with abandonment because no one will ever know what really happened. A brother’s pact will never be broken.
Or, I will just suck it up night after night. I will continue to try my damnedest to be patient and to stick to the rules, instead of letting everything run amok. I will continue to believe in myself as a parent, and know that all of the disciplinary efforts that are lost on them day after day will eventually stick.
After all – doesn’t the fact that I even care about all this go a long way? Some parents don’t give a hoot whether what they do or say affects their kids negatively. I, for one, care greatly! And as long as I care, I know I’m doing at least 1 thing right.
And that, my friends, is Parenting 101: Give a Hoot! (and the rest will follow)