I’m stepping out of my comfort zone here. Way out. Stepping into the land where truth and anger and opinion collide. It’s hard. I’m afraid of the people who will disagree. I’m afraid of the reactions of others. But it’s time to speak out.
America, wake up. We have a crisis.
Well, truthfully, we have more than one. But I think many of our issues are linked in one way or another to a certain crisis.
We have a crisis in parenting.
Unfortunately, we are muddying the waters a bit with these “mommy wars.” We are drawing out debates about breastfeeding and bottle feeding or working versus staying home. There are times where there can be, and are, multiple “right” choices. But, I think we go too far when we say, “No matter what choices you are making, you’re a good mom (or dad)!”
Breast or bottle? Work or stay home? Public school or private school? All can be right. All can be a positive and affirming choice for your family. But NOT all decisions are this type.
If you insist that 2+2=7, I’m doing you no favors by smiling, nodding and agreeing. We cannot lay down a blanket statement that all parenting choices are the right choices.
There are some decisions that are NOT best for your child. Not even okay for them. They are choices that are shaping children in ways that are harmful and even dangerous, at times.
If we want change, it has to start with the most influential people in a child’s world. Parents.
We must stop allowing our children to “call the shots.” Children need boundaries. They feel more secure when they have them. The world is a large and scary place – even for adults. Our children need to feel that someone is helping them define that very large place. When we do not, we create children who try to define it themselves. Often, they are defiant and destructive to themselves and others. Frequently, they are disrespectful and antagonistic. We cannot continue to make excuses for this along the vein of “all boys act that way” or “kids all act that way sometimes.” Blatant disregard for others, willful disobedience, pathological lying, violent behavior. All of these are not normal. They are not acceptable. We, as the adults, must draw those lines and not tolerate these behaviors. It isn’t easy. It isn’t fun sometimes. But it is necessary.
As a parent, you are committing to 18 to life for this tiny human. It is a commitment that means putting them ahead of your own desires and whims. It means that, sometimes you must dish out and follow through with a punishment that hurts you as well. When your child is defying you, you cannot allow him or her to dictate what happens. I know taking away the technology sets you up for fit-throwing, whining and – frankly – less time to get done what you need to do. But, if technology is what makes an impact, you’re going to have to Mom-up (or dad-up) and do it. I get that grounding your kid means you may not get to spend the weekend on the boat. But, if that makes an impact on your child, do it anyway.
Frankly, I see far too many parents who have delivered a child and popped that little one in front of a screen until it’s time to march him or her into the halls of school. I’ve met too many who never told their child “no,” lest they seem mean or have to deal with the meltdown that may ensue. Your child does not need you to be their best friend, nor do they need to be your wing man. Your child needs a parent.
Our children are trying to deal with adult problems because we have foisted them upon their young shoulders. Kids are trying to be the go-between from mom to dad or trying to figure out how to manage a younger sibling’s behavior. Kids are listening to one parent bash the other parent – the one from whom their child gets half of their genetic material.
Children are demonstrating destructive behaviors that threaten others. Behaviors that will get them kicked out of the classroom today and will make them unemployable tomorrow. They are not held accountable and an excuse or person to blame is always at the ready.
It is a crisis. And the solution begins in our homes and in our families.
I am by no means perfect. I lose my temper. I over-react. I can be too critical. But I refuse to stand by and let my children slip down the slippery slope caused by a lack of effort in parenting. I apologize. I try to do better. I try to make the choices that are best for my kids. Not the choices that are easiest and the least disruptive for me.
Change can happen.
Change must happen.
And it starts with parenting.