Parenting be hard, yo.
Well, thank you Mommy Obvious.
It’s true, though. I thought I knew it was hard before I had a kid, and then I had one. No one prepares you, no one can prepare you for how ludicrously hard it is. By the time your kid is five, you look at Chris Hadfield manipulate the Canadarm to repair a part of the International Space Station, and think, that ain’t nothin’. If you can get my kid to put on his shoes, I might be impressed.
Naturally, I read a lot of parenting advice online, mostly to see how awfully everyone else is messing up so I know it’s not just me. Some parents take it to a whole new level when they tag team soiling the bed with the Holy Trinity, though. Here’s an article all about that.
The mommy author of this article on Christian Post answered 4 questions about parenting, and surprisingly only invoked God in two of them – the other two answers I actually agree with. Here are my answers:
1. Should I be Concerned that the Age of Adolescence is Increasing?
No. I mean, unless you’re desperate to have your kids grow up fast. I don’t know any parents who are. Christian mommy and I agree on this answer. If you can’t tell what responsibilities your child is ready for and which he is not, well, you’re just not spending enough time with them is my guess. Let them lead the way, and pile on more and more responsibility as they show that they are ready.
The only downside to this is that teens turn into young adults who tend to stay at home a lot longer nowadays and that can become expensive, can take up a lot of space and lead to conflict if you don’t stand your ground. For my son and my stepdaughter, living here as long as they need to, even if it’s well into adulthood, is not a problem on two conditions: 1. They pay their fair share of the bills and rent OR go to school full time, and 2. They clean up after themselves without being asked. In other words, just because they are still living at home, doesn’t mean they’re excused from adulthood.
Today’s world is a difficult place to get a good start in, especially if you’re interests lie in the arts or academics. It’s hard to stay standing on your feet as a young adult and any help I can give my kids during that period of change and growth, I will in a heartbeat. Letting them stay with you, as young adults, can be brutally harmful though if you expect nothing of them. Too many times, I’ve seen parents let their kids live at home well into their twenties, with no job, no school and no responsibilities. This does nothing but harm your son or daughter. A free ride takes away a sense of accomplishment, purpose, contributing, self-worth and confidence to be able to take care of themselves.
2. Is it Possible to be Too Restrictive with Teens?
Absolutely. Mama Jeeby and I agree on that one-word answer, but then she goes on to spew this drivel:
Like it or not, the corruption of the culture we live in is something you want your child to be cognizant of. This does not mean you permit them to experience the vices of today’s culture. Instead, they need to be able to socialize with others in a mature and God honoring way.
To do this, you need to aggressively and intentionally prepare them to face today’s culture by teaching them God’s moral standards of right and wrong.
First off, corruption of today’s culture? That sounds like fear to me. You’re probably talking about marijuana and godlessness because crime is better, children are safer from abductions, fewer freak accidents happen. In fact, one of my favourite books on parenting is called Free-Range Kids, How to Raise Safe, Self-Reliant Children (Without Going Nuts with Worry) which uses statistical data and reality rather than fear-mongering to argue the case that this is one of the safest times in history for kids. The book argues the case well. Our culture is not corrupt, it’s just different.
Second, you think you have a choice in permitting a teenager to experience the vices of today’s culture? Lol. That’s adorable. The only way you can be sure that your kid is never going to do certain things is by locking them in their room, and even then, a determined teen will circumvent it. Your kids are going to be exposed to drugs, booze, smoking, sex and whatever other weird things teenagers do these days, no matter what you do. Do you think every kid who has smoked pot has had parents who told them it was okay to do so? Of course not. What you say is far less powerful than peer pressure, curiosity and the determination to assert their independence.
A better way to handle the “vices” of today, is to talk openly about them. Explain the dangers, relate your own experiences and then give them your trust. Giving a child trust is about the most powerful tool a parent has. No child want’s to fail the trust they’ve been given by an active, involved parent. It is never too soon, either, to start talking about these things, especially with the imagery of all of these vices readily available on television, video games, the internet and out in the real world. They will see it. They will be exposed to it… and it may happen a lot sooner than you think.For me, I began talking to my son about these things at a very young age. Five or six, if I recall correctly. I talk to him about drinking and smoking. We’ve discussed sex and topics related to it at great length. Once, when he was four, he asked me out of the blue, “Mom, what are my nuts for?”. After a giggle (because of course, he’d also whipped them out), I let him know the truth. He was not shocked or traumatized, and I know that by answering him honestly every single time, he will always feel safe coming to me with all of his questions. He will trust me to be honest with him and come to me more often because of it.
As for my stepdaughter, I have talked about drugs, sex, alcohol, men, etc. It’s an open conversation, with no taboo feeling. This makes them both know, that should they want to, I am here to talk to and will be honest, non-judgmental and understanding.
To me, it’s better that they feel safe coming to me with these things, rather than hiding it from me because I have strictly forbid it.
Teaching them God’s moral standards ain’t gonna do bugger-all, because God’s moral standards are basically, “Worship me or burn. Don’t worship no other fool, or burn. Don’t take upskirts of your neighbour’s trophy wife” and “Don’t kill”. Everything else asserted in the holy scriptures is entirely up for debate. It’s great and all that you’re teaching your kids they shouldn’t kill, but 9 times out of 10, that’s not what he or she is struggling with.
3. Do Good Parents Ever Disappoint Their Kids?
Eff yes! I know every mommy has experienced lying awake at night, feeling wrought with guilt over something you did or said. Maybe you snapped at your kid after they asked for a chocolate bar for literally the fortieth time in line at the grocery store, or maybe you couldn’t get your kid to leave the park, so you pulled the “Ok, bye then! See you later!” trick and cared the living crap out of him. Maybe you stood your ground about eating your spinach even though you knew the kid genuinely didn’t like it. All of these things are so normal and common, but mommies, I know, we still feel guilty about it. We let our kids down all the time. It’s what makes us human.
Our Christ-loving mom says this,
When, not if, you are wrong, apologize. This provides quality bonding experiences with your teen and generates trust.
Teaching your child how to maturely handle disappointments in life will build character.
And I wholeheartedly agree. You must always admit when you’ve made a mistake. Always.
4. What are Some Other Ways I can Facilitate Character Development in My Child?
At this point, holy momma starts spewing Bible passages, from which she figures her kids will learn that character is a result of perseverance and that perseverance is a result of suffering. She then says:
The truth is our teens have no hope because they have no character. They have no character because they rarely need to persevere.
They are not given the opportunity to persevere because they have not had to suffer.
If you guessed that Godless Mom is gonna call horseshit, you guessed right, you glorious genius.
Perseverance does indeed lead to character, however, it’s not only derived from suffering. It can apply to life goals, to projects and tasks. Character can be built through hard work, not just suffering. Some of us don’t consider working hard towards a goal, suffering. Some of us enjoy it.
Character is also built by life experiences, and they do not always have to be bad. I know that a good 90% of my own character was built over the two years I spent traveling the developing world with my parents. I saw horrible, horrible things, but I also saw amazing things. This built character faster than any amount of suffering could. They were two of the best years of my life and I would be an entirely different person had I not experienced them.
Other character building life experiences can include volunteering for a non-profit or helping people less fortunate in some way. You can also visit kids who live a different life than your own, like kids living on a farm who are expected to help out every day with animal care.
The absolute best way to build character in your child, though, is by setting an example. Be who you want your kids to be and you’re already halfway there.
I’d be interested to know if you have different answers to these questions. Feel free to blog about them and post the link in the comments!
Image: Creative Commons/Pixabay