how to take care of your beaver
June 18, 2008 3 Comments
Our children do not act the same in our absence as they do in our presence. They have their home behavior and their away behavior. There are certain things that they will try where you cannot see them that they would never dare within an eye-shot of us. I am not telling you that our children are all criminals when we are not watching, but they are most definitely more daring and mischievous. It is not a flaw in their psyche. It is simply hard wired into their existence. Testing limits and boundaries is a part of growing up. Putting control valves on their feelings and emotions is another.
I am not sure when exactly I started using foul language as a child, I just did. I would use it to add color to my conversation and faux passion to my message. I knew a bunch of good ones and learned to use them very creatively as I entertained and interacted with others. I do, however, remember that I didn’t curse in front of my parents. I would just simply turn it off when they were around. I didn’t have to think about it, I just knew that they wouldn’t approve of it and I would most likely get in trouble for it. I also learned that when they were not around, there was less accountability; and consequences were almost non existent. It may have been wrong, but who cared… it felt good to be a bit bad. Especially when I couldn’t get caught, there was no punishment, and it was acceptable to my peers. For you it may have been a bit different, but make no mistake about it, it was mostly the same. We behaved one way in front of our parents, and another behind their backs.
Now set that aside for a moment as I add in a bit of lemon juice to your open mind.
Some of us have been parents, some of us multiple times, for quite some time. Some of us are a bit tired of what it has taken to date to actually do this parenting thing. Some of us are single and have to do it alone. Some of us are married and still have to do it alone. Some of us have little patience left. Some of us have been at it so long and so intensely that there seems like there is no steam left to get us to the end of this road. Some are hoping that they did a good enough job in the beginning of the race, so that they can spend some time coasting through life on their wake of good deeds and pampering. After all, how could their children ever think about making a bad decision after all they have sacrificed, bled, and sweat to get them to where they are today.
Then you wake up to find that you child has taken your lack of parenting to the next level while you weren’t looking.
They have no sense of urgency, drive, or determination. The only thing that they clean less than their teeth is their room. They spend less time listening and more time talking. They act up in school and their grades slip. They make bad decisions when deciding between video games and sleep. They don’t help around the house; or worse, they do just the opposite. They don’t care for their possessions or appreciate what it took to attain them. They whine to get stuff or to get out of stuff. They say things like “in a minute” or “wait a second” instead of “yes” or “I’m on my way”. Conduct in school edges toward unbecoming and grades start to get affected. And that’s all BEFORE they become teenagers!
If your child is starting to make more than a few bad decisions at home, then we must agree that they are making worse ones when you are not around. It is probably safe to say that you can take all of the things that you wish your child would improve on, stop doing, or start doing, and multiply it by a factor of 10 for your child’s teacher, coach, bus driver, babysitter, or camp counselor.
We need to splash some cold water on our faces and wake up a bit. If we just sit back and let childhood happen to our kids…it will. We need to be more cognizant of our impact on their lives and better prepare them for what is in store for them when we are not around to “protect and serve” them like some modern day Francis “Ponch” Poncherello. It is never too late to realize that our expectations and accountability with our kids at home will be a gauge with which they will make judgements and decisions for the rest of their lives.
I am going to stop letting things go just because they are smaller than other things. I am going to stop saving my energy for “bigger deals” and be a positive role model in all of the deals. I am going to stay involved and active in my children’s lives and offer guidance and encouragement in interesting and relevant ways (even though I have definitely reached DORK-CON-ONE in their eyes). I am going to be my children’s parent first and friend second (if there is any time left for friendship at all). I am going to use my life experience to help my children travel the road to adulthood on their own two feet. (but I will reserve the right to move a few pebbles, point out a few pot holes, and/or carry them a few miles if I damn well please).
But most importantly….
I am going to work hard at being the person in my children’s life that has worked hardest to deserve the attention, trust, and respect that it is going to take for them to consider listening to me in the first place.