Tuesday, February 14, 2012

On Parenting: In which i'm sure to offend someone

I hate to brag but I have to admit I have well-behaved kids. It's not just me saying that. I get told this all the time. Nothing makes me more proud as a parent than to pick up my child from a party and hear the mom tell my son or daughter that he or she is welcome back ANY TIME.

My children did not hatch from eggs, or get picked from a cabbage patch. They are the culmination of hard work and constant, consistent parenting from both Craig and myself. There are things we have chosen to do in order to make them well-adjusted, eager, patient, considerate future global citizens.

Did I mention patient?

I stress this one attribute because I find it so lacking in all of American society. From immediate song changes to the constant need to be entertained, I don't think Americans are able to be silent long enough to hear their own thoughts. I am beginning to just believe that Americans don't like themselves so they try to fill every waking moment with things, communications, and entertainment so they don't have to listen to themselves think.

The side effect is that Americans expect to have every waking second filled. They wake up, turn on the TV or radio, check their phone. Spend the day on the computer, talking on their phone, checking text messages and facebook. They talk in the car or listen to the radio. Does anyone drive in silence any more? Watch people in the grocery store. How many people are talking as they shop. The rudest of people talk when they checkout to avoid any interaction with the person standing in front of them. And in the evening they watch TV. Lots of TV.

I admit that I spend most waking moments reading something. Computer or book. But I long ago decided that I really like my thoughts and the crazy places they take me so I often drive in the silence. My house is usually silent. I hate ambient TV noises. Probably because my mother's house always has noise and this is my juvenile rebellion. Who knows?

This is the mother my poor children got. Go. Call you mother and thank her for not being me. I don't mind, really.

When we took the long road to  Key West. We drove. My husband, his parents, our two younger children and me. In a car together for 3 hours. One way. It should have been a nightmare. It was a blast. Don't get me wrong. The kids fought. They argued. They slept. They were kids. They were not mind-numbed machines plugged into a game that kept their whole attention. I hate to tell people, but that isn't parenting. And what really are you teaching your kids anyway? Seriously think about what you are trying to tell your children when you do this. You don't value their thoughts and ideas. You just want them to shut up and frankly not be a part of your life.

Does this mean my children never get to play video games? No. My son has a iPod Touch. We have computers. I have games on my iPhone I let my kids play. But they aren't used to just keep my kids quiet whenever I want them to be little statues.

My husband and I are both horribly impatient people. I didn't want our children to grow up to be like us. So I make them wait for things. They often hear me tell them that "it's good to want things." Meaning if you have everything, what is there to look forward to? I want them to enjoy the anticipation. Enjoy the WAIT as much as the THING.

Which means when I booked us with a FIVE HOUR LAYOVER in Fort Lauderdale after our cruise while we waited for the FIRST LEG of our plane journey to begin, the children were great. My husband however paced like a caged animal snarling things like "Never again" and veiled threats of actually booking a plane ticket himself some day. Empty threats I tell you.

This is what parenting is all about. Preparing your children for their mother's stupidity. It works every time!

1 comment:

  1. I love this and can't help but add my "Comments from the Counseling Corner":
    What an awesome skill delaying gratification. Our job as parents is to build capacity - capacity for waiting, capacity for disappointment, capacity for disillusionment, etc. Based on what I've learned recently one of the best ways to build capacity in a child is to: honor the need + state the limit. For example, "Ella, you'd would really love to go outside and play in the traffic, but we all know that playing in the traffic isn't safe." OR "Ava, you'd really love to eat fried worms wouldn't you? But you and I both know that fried worms aren't good for you."

    So you honor the need or the desire and then set the limit. Little by little they build capacity for handling life's disappointments.


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