If you think I am “mean” now….
It is funny how we wake up with “plans” for the day and in one instant, it all falls apart. For me, it was a text message at “O’dark thirty” with a face I knew too well and the caption ” Have you seen my child?” There, on my screen, was the smiling face of one of my many “sons’ in the community and my heart dropped so swiftly just imagining what his parents must be going through. I stared in disbelief for a hot second and galvanized into action after a quick prayer, by calling mom, getting the slim details and asking permission to post his pic on my Facebook page. This story ended well; within 1 minute of posting, someone responded that the child was in their home and the relief was palpable…Took my disoriented self to a meeting that I was now totally late for and as I sat having a conversation around “creating a framework for family partnerships” on a National scale, it suddenly hit me……
This story could have turned out another way and therein lies the reason for this blog today.
There seems to be this misnomer these days, that we as parents must fundamentally raise our children differently than the way we were by our parents. While I “get” much has changed, so many things remain the same. Our children come to us through a struggle; last time I checked, childbirth was no walk in the park. We also spend many days and nights “molding” who these little people will become as they gain independence and their ultimate freedom from us as adults. But hello????? They are not going to get there unless WE the PARENTS put some fundamentals in place. Like what you say? Let’s start with these shall we?
- Good manners. Yes my dear people, things like Please, thank you, no thank you, Yes Ms/Mr. so and so are things that will NEVER be outdated and in fact are the BASIC things for functioning in society. Nothing is worse than a child who refuses to use these simple tools above, especially if they are ten and under….
- Paying attention. We learned what mistakes not to make and to stay out of harm’s way by always paying attention AND absorbing what is being taught to us. Our children need and crave that too.
- Being respectful to not just your elders but others around you. This goes beyond good manners above. Body language speaks volumes and it is never acceptable for a child to speak to their parent in a manner that is considered unacceptable like using foul language during conversations.. What they do in the home and think they have gotten away with, they will do in schools and society. In order to get respect, it must first be given.
- Patience. I have never seen a child keel over and die YET from not getting the gum, cereal, sneakers, X-box the minute they just HAD to have it. Can we STOP teaching our children that it is ok to get what they want, when they want it? Patience and learning how to work for something pays off beautifully long-term. Unless of course, you want these grown 35-40 year old folks in your house , eating up your food and just being an albatross around your neck…. then by all means, go for broke.
- Kindness. When did it become a thing of the past to treat people with a modicum of kindness through sharing and being helpful to others? This has been some of the most selfish young people I have ever seen and they are stemming from us.
While I am on this subject, when did it become “cool” to drop off your children with folks you know nothing about other than your child saying it is ok? I cannot tell you how many times over the years that I had birthday parties for my children only to watch parents just stopping long enough for the kids to get out the car and keep rolling.. When did we stop getting out the car, meeting the adults where your most precious person will be staying, getting a phone number and giving a time for pick – up?
And WHY pray tell, is it alright for a child to stay in your house all darn night and you give NO thought to calling a parent to check – in and get the child home? What the hell is wrong with us? A cell phone, while a great tool, NEVER takes the place of a face to face conversation. EVER. One can often pick up nuances in person, that cannot be had via text. Can we get back to the fundamentals of parenting and start acting like carrying a child for months, excruciating labor pains and the birthing process was NOT in vain?
If you have a parent in your midst that refuses to be responsible, my sage advice would be to help first, then take your child and go in the other direction. And for those of you who do not want your child to “hate” you by being too “strict” please think of the consequences on the back-end of what you won’t do on this one.
If they think you are mean now..Society is oh so much worse later…