I have 2 children.
13 and 15.
Those are not their real names, although now I kind of wish they were. That would be so fantastically easy for me, not so good for them.
I should probably start this by saying that if you have kids, it’s most likely that they are assholes. Don’t hate the player, hate the game…no one likes other peoples children…only their own – and even THAT is tenuous on a Sunday morning at 6am – so by that logic, my kids are assholes too.
So we’ve established it then, your kids are assholes.
On the matter of your asshole kids, I’d like to bring your attention to how you manage them in public. Please refer to Buffet Science for one very specific example. I have a hard time with poorly behaved kids and dogs who don’t walk on leashes. Or maybe it’s kids on leashes I can’t stand. Yes, I’m pretty sure that’s what I hate the most, but out of control kids are just reflections of their control-stunted parents. My kids are certainly not on the fast track for a Nobel Peace Prize or becoming Poet Laureate of some country that still has a Poet Laureate. Neither am I. The behaviour I model to my children is more along the lines of World Champion Procrastinator or Margin Doodler. My kids are, however, well behaved in public. I have my parents to thank for this. I come from a long line of subdued intimidation and passive-aggressive 70’s parenting. For example;
“If you even think of making a scene in this restaurant, I’ll shave the heads of your favourite dolls. Is that understood? Now, let us go have a good dinner, unless of course, you are going to choose not to. It’s really up to you.”
Times, they are a-changin’…now its seen as cruel or abusive to parent this way. Today we’re told to be gentle and sweet to our kids and hand out macaroni art medals every time they look up from their electronic of choice to nod a solemn ‘yes’ to the question of “can I either clean up after you or make you another meal?”
I’m not sure when the mood shifted in parenting from full control to who the hell is in control. I blame the early 80’s and its proliferation of Phen-tex slippers and Cabbage Patch Kids. Nothing good is born of that kind of crap. Slippers and creepy dolls did not turn parents soft, however. We turned ourselves soft. There was a gradual shift in policy, where everyone started receiving ‘participation awards’ and no one kept the score at soccer games. It happened so slowly that no one blinked an eye, yet now we find ourselves neck-deep in the mire of mediocrity and hypoallergenic feelings. If you know me or have googled my name in the Queen’s bench registry, you will know that I am not at all a proponent of beating kids. It is my view that people who beat their kids are cowards and should be drawn and quartered in a style fitting the beasts that they truly are. I am however pro-parenting. Parenting with love, but boundaries and expectations. The lack of expectations these days is unsettling – the last time I checked you would be fired for failure to do the job you were hired to do, so no, Kevin, I won’t give you $5 for thinking about making your bed.
In the big outside world, there is no quiet corner to think about what you did and then talk through the error of your ways with the aid of gender-neutral puppets and soft voices. I may have to add that idea to my retirement plan list, mind you.
I look at my own kids right now and see all the ways I am failing them and possibly ruining them for future employment, partners, and children of their own. I am absolutely guilty of being a soft parent in some areas. Perhaps it is in contrast to my parents’ old school style with me. The pendulum swings hard in the opposing direction. Really though, physics says that it would swing with a gradually decreasing force, so that might not be accurate at all. Really REALLY though, I’m not even close to having even a rudimentary understanding of physics so that last line is complete bullshit.
After reading many different articles, blogs and Magic 8 Ball predictions, a healthy balance is probably the answer here. Except of course when it comes to eating nachos or buying lip balm. There are no limits on those things, and if you think there is, its probably because you have dry lips and hate delicious food.
I might have developed a healthy balance with my own parenting style. On cold nights I used to put my kids PJ’s in the dryer for a few minutes, but I also didn’t let them drink coffee after 2 pm. See? It’s all about give and take. There are no participation medals in my house, but at least all their dolls still have full heads of hair.