September 12, 2009

Blast from the Past: Parental Indignation

Today's blast from the past is another look at an old blog post from Christian Women Today.

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I found this floating around out there in the internet, and although I didn’t write it or know who did, I still think it’s a worthwhile thing to share. There’s a lot of conflicting ideas today about parenting and what makes a good parent. “Mean Moms and Dads” makes a good point with a tongue in cheek type humor.

Mean Moms and Dads
Someday when my children are old enough to understand the logic that motivates a parent, I will tell them, as my Mean Mom and Dad told me: I loved you enough

. . . to ask where you were going, with whom, and what time you would be home.
I loved you enough to be silent and let you discover that your new best friend was a creep.
I loved you enough to stand over you for two hours while you cleaned your room, a job that should have taken 15 minutes.
I loved you enough to let you see anger, disappointment, and tears in my eyes. Children must learn that their parents aren't perfect.
I loved you enough to let you assume the responsibility for your actions even when the penalties were so harsh they almost broke my heart.
But most of all, I loved you enough . . . to say NO when I knew you would hate me for it.
Those were the most difficult battles of all. I'm glad I won them because in the end you won too. And someday when your children are old enough to understand the logic that motivates parents, you will tell them.
Was your Mom and Dad mean? I know mine were. We had the meanest parents in the whole world! While other kids ate candy for breakfast, we had to have cereal, eggs, and toast.
When others had a Pepsi and a Twinkie for lunch, we had to eat sandwiches.

And you can guess our parents fixed us a dinner that was different from what other kids had too.
They insisted on knowing where we were at all times. You'd think we were convicts in a prison. They had to know who our friends were, and what we were doing with them.
They insisted that if we said we would be gone for an hour we would be gone for an hour or less.
We were ashamed to admit it, but they had the nerve to break the Child Labor Laws by making us work. We had to wash the dishes, make the beds, learn to cook, vacuum the floor, do laundry, empty the trash, and all sorts of cruel jobs. I think they would lie awake at night thinking of more things for us to do.
They always insisted on us telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. By the time we were teenagers, they could read our minds and had eyes in the back of her head. Then, life was really tough!
They wouldn't let our friends (or dates) just honk the horn when they drove up. They had to come up to the door so she could meet them. While everyone else could date when they were 12 or 13, we had to wait until we were 16.
Because of our parents we missed out on lots of things other kids experienced. None of us have ever been caught shoplifting, vandalizing other's property, or ever arrested for any crime. It was all their fault.
Now that we have left home, we are all educated, honest adults. We are doing our best to be mean parents just like they were.
I think that is what's wrong with the world today. It just doesn't have enough mean parents!

I don’t know about you, but it drives me crazy when I hear people say it’s detrimental to a child to tell them no now and again. Or, showing them their actions have consequences damages their self-esteem. And, it’s bordering on child abuse to ask your children to – help out – with the household chores, teaching them how to do those simple and necessary tasks such as cooking, laundry, scrubbing a bathroom, et all along the way. (Note the help out part. That doesn’t mean turn all the chores over to the kids and sit around on the couch. Practice what you preach.) Here’s the kicker. It’s infringing on their privacy to ask them where they’re going, what they’ll be doing, who they’ll be doing stuff with, and when they’ll be back.

Excuse me? Since when did making sure your child stays out of harms way, learns how to follow society’s rules and laws, learn to take care of themselves, and protecting them from themselves become the benchmark of bad parenting?

Isn’t the general idea of parenting to ensure your child grows up to be a healthy, fully functioning adult? How healthy is someone going to be if they don’t know how to clean up after themselves and have to rely on TV dinners and take out for their meals? How functional is a person going to be if they never learned to respect authority? Forget making it through high school or college, that’s easy compared to trying to hold down a job when you want to do what you want to do when you want to do it. Jobs require taking direction, a willingness to work, and respect for your boss’ authority. Just try showing up to your workplace, doing nothing, and holding your hand out for your paycheck and see where that lands you.

Do you think the protecting them from themselves line is over the top? Alright, think about some of the grand ideas you and your friends came up with when you were teenagers. How many of them seem incredibly stupid now? How many of them were dangerous in the extreme? But, they didn’t seem stupid or dangerous at the time, did they?

Adolescence is a confusing time as it is, and one factor of human development only compounds the problem. A teen’s body is adult, but their mind is still developing. The centers controlling cognitive reasoning don’t finish developing until the mid to late twenties. Teens see their adult body and believe they’re adults. They may think they’ve thought something through, but their thought process generally stops about three or four steps short. They’re invincible; why should they worry about what drinking, smoking, or doing drugs would do to their bodies? Why should they worry about having unprotected sex? Getting STDs, becoming pregnant, and placing themselves in danger of the judgment rarely enters the thought process in the heat of the moment. And what could possibly go wrong with jumping on top of a moving vehicle? It’s done in the movies all the time.

Children are a gift and a responsibility. Is it a child’s fault if they’re never taught how to behave and/or take care of themselves? No, it’s ours for not having the guts to stop them from doing things that can hurt them and/or are just plain wrong. It’s our fault for being too lazy to take the time to teach them. It’s so easy to do everything for them, but what do they gain from having everything handed to them?

There’s so much being said today about just loving your children more and not disciplining. I just don’t understand this. Doesn’t the Bible say a parent who loves their child will chastise them, but a parent who hates their child will do nothing? I’m not telling you to beat your child. Everything can be taken to the extreme, and that’s never a good thing. But, it’s not going to do them any harm to tell them no and stick with it. It won’t scar them to have boundaries and clear consequences for crossing them. In fact, children long for limits. They want to know what’s right and what’s wrong. Not knowing is frightening, and they’ll act out in an attempt to force you to put boundaries up.

It’s time the world had a few more “mean” parents and a few less “parental friends.”

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