I heard this quote the other night: “I feel like it’s your job to parent them. If you’re the parent, be a parent.” I’m not going to tell you who said it, because it might cloud your judgement of the statement. But let’s think about this, shall we? And yes, I am going to make a few assumptions about things and speak in generalities, but I don’t have the time to actually research numbers. I can only speak from personal experience and how I observe things in this world.
It’s your job to parent them.
What do your children listen to? Who are their friends? Where do they play? It’s easy for me to control this right now; my daughter is only 8 years old and my son will be 5 soon. I’m not handing them the keys to the car just yet (nor will I until they’re about 25) but I’m hopeful that my involvement now will influence how they are as teenagers. I’d like to think that my active participation in their life now will only serve to provide them with a platform, a sturdy framework on which to build their life. I’m not perfect, by any means. There are days when I’m just as likely to turn on the TV for them to watch so I can get things done as I am to spend time with them doing what they want to do. There are times when I’ve reached the end of my rope and snapped at them.
But I will not become passive as a parent when they hit those teen years. I’ll be just as involved then as I am now but it’ll be a different kind of involvement. I’ll talk to their teachers (assuming I’m not still homeschooling my daughter) and their friends. I’ll know their friend’s parents and their coaches. Sure, they will have independence, but they will also have me.
If you’re the parent, be the parent.
It’s easy to throw blame around on other people when you see bad things happen. But couldn’t it all just boil down to what they were taught at home? If someone was taught, whether by example or by inattentiveness, to be disrespectful to others, then who is to blame? The child or the parent? What about entitlement? Suppose a child is given their every desire; wouldn’t that fail to teach them the value of working towards a goal and instead teach them that they should have everything, regardless of what cost it might be (and I’m not just talking financial cost)?
But let’s go back to the notion of respect. For me, everything boils down to respect for others. I’ve written about this before and I do still believe this. And you’ve heard it before: “Kids these days have no respect.” And who should we look to? The parents. Since when did it become “cool” to backtalk your parents or your teachers or any other adult for that matter? I’ve often seen parents try to be the “friend” instead of the parent, but kids have lots of friends and only one set of parents. Children need that role model. Since when did “ma’am” and “sir” become lost in our vernacular? Parents should be parenting their children and be involved and teach them the importance of showing respect. A local teacher is waging her own battle against disrespectful students and I applaud her efforts. But I have to ask the question: If the parents were being the parents, would she still have this problem?
As I said at the beginning, I’m making a lot of generalities here and I know that my children are not perfect, nor am I a perfect parent. I often have to remind them to change the “yeah” to “yes, please” or “yes, ma’am” or the “nope” to “no, thank you” but they’re making progress. Monkey and I talk quite a bit about bullying and respect and how “I was just teasing” isn’t the answer to saying something that hurts someone else’s feelings. With Little Man, it’s more of a struggle getting him to think of others, but that’s a whole other post. I often have to step back myself and ask if I could have handled something differently or better.
But back to this: “I feel that it’s your job to parent them. If you’re the parent, be the parent.” Are you curious yet who said this? Marshall Mathers. Do you know him? He’s better known as Eminem, a controversial rapper if there ever was one. This was his response to Anderson Cooper’s question on 60 Minutes about whether or not Em should feel responsible for children learning profanity from his music. Even he doesn’t use that language around his daughters. Surprised? I’m not. I hope you take the time to watch this.