Parenting Sucks!

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Hey, don’t judge me. I didn’t say my kids suck. I’m just saying parenting them does – sometimes. Now, in the interest of full disclosure I should say that I have really good kids. They make good grades; they are (mostly) well mannered and (mostly) well behaved; they are athletes dedicated to their sports. Do they mess up? Yes, of course. Don’t we all?

You build a trusting relationship with your children. Occasionally, that trust needs to be tested. So, we do random bed room checks, back pack checks, and phone checks. They are always clean and clear and I always feel like a real jackass after doing it. I don’t hide that I’m doing it, in fact, I almost always do it in front of them. They, almost always, sit there with pride knowing there will be nothing to find because they can be trusted.

Until they can’t. Until that day you find something that’s against the rules. Not a big something, just a little one, but something against the rules nonetheless. I sit there choking on my disappointment while I look at the evidence that my child has broken my trust. Tears well in her eyes, but I’m not sure if it’s shame for doing it or aggravation for having been caught. My confusion about what I thought I knew about my child is overwhelming.

“Tell me why you did this? Did you do it because you thought I was stupid or because you thought I wouldn’t check?” I asked, not sure which answer I hoped was the truth.

“I didn’t think you’d check because I knew you trusted me.”

OUCH! Straight through the heart. I’ll say it again, I have good kids. Her rule violation is a minor one. On the other hand, is any breach of trust ever a minor one? I trust her because she follows the rules. She broke the rules because she knew I trusted her.  And therein lies the Catch 22 of parenting and the precise reason it sucks.

Having good kids has made me lazy and complacent. In theory, I’m a vigilant parent not because I have bad kids, but because I want them to know my standards are high. I expect a lot from them and I’ll check to make sure they are meeting those expectations. But then I relaxed and apparently they thought my expectations did too.

After stepping back from the situation, I realize this is exactly what parenting is all about. My kids are going to make mistakes and it’s my job to help them learn from those mistakes. Breaking a rule is about so much more than doing something you’re not supposed to. I get to teach her how important her integrity is. I get to teach her that trust is paramount in a good relationship. I have been gifted these children to turn into good people. The pressure of that sucks; not the actual parenting.

I should thank the little rule breaker for reminding me that it is my responsibility to be a vigilant parent, not a lazy one, no matter how exhaustive that is. Yes, thank you, my little rebel. Oh, and you’re grounded.

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3 thoughts on “Parenting Sucks!

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  1. It IS exhausting having to keep up with everything, especially in this day and age. I do intermittent ‘checks’ of my teens’ computer usage and cell phones. I make sure the parental controls are still set. It’s a pain, and I never feel like doing it, but then I remind myself what’s lurking out there on the Internet and that helps me get my butt in gear. Luckily neither of my sons is into social media; they have zero interest in it, so that’s a plus.

    1. Remember when we were kids and all our parents had to do was pick up the phone in the kitchen to hear what we were saying in our bed rooms? If it was anything inappropriate, all they had to do was come in our rooms and yank the cord out of the wall. Yeah, those were good times. Now, you need an IT degree to make sure your kids aren’t doing anything they aren’t supposed to that could also cause long term damage to their reputations. The internet is permanent!!

      1. Exactly. I remember my mom not wanting me to watch ‘Three’s Company’ when it first came on. (Guess I’m dating myself…) We had only one TV, and the show was only on once a week–no DVR or repeat potential–so it was easy for her to make sure I didn’t view it. Now my sons can pull up topless women on YouTube. Lovely.

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