Old School, New School- Where’s the Balance?

It’s been exactly 3 months since my last post….And what’s on my mind—parenting.

I’m starting to believe I’ve done my children a disservice by being too available. Of course they would say I don’t give them anything they need.

Today I had to make a quick run to the grocery. I was going to go alone, but Lilli, my 14-year old decided to join me. I’m making enchiladas and burnt the chicken in the crock pot last night. The rotisserie  was $7.99. The lunch meat and cheese (for lunches/snacks this week) was almost $15. And the sushi Lilli suddenly wanted to have was $8, stating, “I’m sick of sandwiches” (and apparently can’t wait for enchiladas).

I told her to find a deli salad instead, which she did. “How much is it,” she asked?

“$3.35.”

She made that sound that expresses disgust when you click the tongue away from the roof of your mouth, and said “I hate being poor.”

“Lilli, we aren’t actually poor. I’m just not making any money right now and need to be on a budget.”

“Well make some,” she demands.

“Even if I made some it wouldn’t be to buy you everything you want,” I reply as I start to feel defensive.

“You need to make more money so you don’t have to depend on dad. You can’t even pay the mortgage with out dad.”

From here I just get more defensive….”Listen here, kid….”

 

On the way home, I start to see how the earlier days of letting a child know their place might still make sense.

Besides spending most of my adult life as a homemaker, being available to my children and my home 24/7, I also began working as a teacher assistant a few years ago. This past year I worked at a middle school and the behaviors I observed made me curious about where the hell we are going wrong with our kids. It would appear kids don’t know their place.

I know that doesn’t sound right, does it? Well maybe it does to more old-school, conservative people, but to the liberal and equal minded people it may not. Here’s what I think– we have left behind the “children are best seen and not heard” philosophy where children were filled with shame and not seen as people with their own thoughts and feelings– and this is a good thing–but, now we seem to be in the other extreme where we let the kids run things. We treat them equally. We are afraid to hurt their feelings and to disregard their thoughts. We also tell them our thoughts and feelings as if they  know what to do with those other than hurting us somehow later (how else do you think my 14-year old knows I can’t pay the mortgage with my pay check).

But, here’s the result of creating equal ground for our kids—some of them now tell teachers and parents to “fuck off bitch” ( I saw this frequently where I work and have heard it from my own child). Some use our willingness to listen to their thoughts and feelings to manipulate so they get what they want. And quite honestly between this and the media with images and sounds of violence and sex, kids are frickin’ overwhelmed. They are kids for a reason. They are under our care for a reason, and yet here we are as a culture exposing them to content they can’t truly handle yet. In some ways we are protecting them but in other ways we certainly are not. And I guess they’re pissed.

In my own life as a parent, I have tried to protect my children from the experiences I had as a child- divorce, having an alcoholic mother. Yet, it was from these very experiences that I learned how to be resourceful, independent and responsible. Of course I am not saying I should have been a drug addict so my kids could be stronger in some areas, but I truly believed being available to them emotionally and also making them physically comfortable was what would allow them the space and the security to develop certain qualities that would benefit them. But, now I wonder…

I can’t say I have any definitive answers yet, but here are some things I am realizing as I continue this parenting journey, one I have been on for 22 years.

  • Kids are hard on parents

This realization comes as a relief. For 20+ years I’ve believed that somehow if I just do things right, which really meant doing things better than my own parents my kids will appreciate it. HAHAHAHA. I’m thinking it doesn’t matter. Kids are hard on their parents(large period here).

  • It’s okay if my kids don’t respect my choices or even like me.

My Aunt Flo told me when her kids said they didn’t like her, she said: too bad. I’ve been priding myself for years on being a good mom. And as my kids become more vocal in the ways that I am not or in the ways they do not respect my choices in my own life, I have been terribly hurt and confused by this. Like: don’t they see what a good mom I am….how can they say these things to me?  I think I can finally say it’s okay that they don’t respect my choices. It’s okay they don’t think I am a good mom. It’s okay. And quite honestly, it’s been humbling to see in which ways I really haven’t been a good mom.

  • It’s also okay how I chose to parent at the time.

No matter why I did what I did, which for many years was just not do what my mother did, my kids will survive. My kids will be okay. And even if I did do too much, as human beings we are resourceful and resilient. They will go through the struggles as they already are in their own ways. They will always have the capacity to take what they did and did not receive and have it inform how they live their lives and how they parent, if and when they choose to do so.

As far as what to do as a culture for our kids- as I said I have no definitive answers, but I do trust we are finding a balance between the old-school ways and the newer-school ways. I also know we must find a spiritual perspective in raising kids, ours and society’s. The balance then seems to be keeping a vigilance of our humanity- how we parent within our culture and our own upbringing, while also having a spiritual perspective- that within our spirits we are equals. We are whole. And we are on our journey that continues to unfold and evolve. From this balance we will find and share the wisdom, which comes from this space.

Would love your thoughts on the matter.

The Soul Reporter.

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3 thoughts on “Old School, New School- Where’s the Balance?

  1. Great post. I can relate. I once went on a rant about things I was killing myself to do for my kids and ended it with “I want some credit.” The friend I was talking to, a mother of two ten years my senior, just laughed. They ARE hard on us, and we were hard on ours (at least I was). We likely won’t get the recognition we deserve from them until they have their own children. That’s when I finally got it.
    Meanwhile, I think the mistake so many parents are making these days is the belief that your children should never be afraid of you. I disagree. I think fear of negative consequences when they behave badly is exactly what they should feel to make them better people. But I’ve got a healthy dose of old school mixed in with my tendency to tell them too much and be friend as much as parent. At the end of the day, we all jsut do the best we can, I think. Best to you!

  2. Love your unwavering honesty 🙂 thanks for sharing! I can definitely relate to everything you mentioned above and have a million thoughts in response – top of the pile is “Loving What Is” by Byron Katie. Have you read it? Changed my world, especially in regards to my children, husband and my parents. Better yet, the understanding (from doing the exercises) consistently brings me peace amidst the chaos of family life. Much love xx

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