PSA's and Who Has Issues?
I was listening to this PSA (Public Service Announcement) earlier today that really made sense to me. I wonder though, how many people heard it, and really "got it." It talked about how parents are afraid to talk to their kids about doing drugs for fear of being seen as a hypocrite by their children. This is where the VERY BASICS of parenting needs to be addressed. We've all been there at some point and time with our kids. Maybe not about drugs, but some issue comes up where we find ourselves disciplining our child for something we do or have done. Sometimes we find ourselves telling our kids not to do things we did or have done.
If the fear of being seen or thought of as a hypocrite overrides your will to see your children live a better life than ourselves- WE ARE THE ONES WITH AN ISSUE! Raising our kids is not about our image. Yes, I understand that kids can spot hypocrisy- I also understand that losing respect from our kids hinders our effectiveness. I would rather take the stand of telling my child to "wait for marriage" and be seen as a hypocrite than handing them condoms and praying for the best. My son never knew his father for the first 14 years of his life. I was NEVER married to his father. How do I get away with teaching him to "wait" for marriage? Easy. The pain of him not knowing his father was the collateral damage of my reckless behavior. I tell him just that. "Do you really want your children to grow up like you had to?"
Other parents tell me I am a fool to think that my son will not be having sex. They say things like, "I want my child to be able to talk to me. I would rather know what they are doing so I can protect them, than to be blind to what they are doing." This is the epitome of pride getting in the way of the real purpose of parenting. Children don't share with their parents all they are doing or not doing based on weather or not they are allowed to do these things. Don't be silly. If you tell your kids they can have sex- just use a condom and don't get anyone pregnant, or we tell them all the dangers and warn them to be careful; then think that we will know all they are doing- we are kidding ourselves. There is always something they are doing that we don't know about. So, the higher the bar- the better. On top of that- think about it. It sounds more like we are more concerned about looking like fools for thinking our kids aren't having sex when they are, than we are concerned about the choices they are making and what this can do to their lives.
I am not attacking parents that parent differently. I know all parents mean well. We all LOVE our kids. But we are human. We have issues. I just want to encourage each of us to focus on what the best thing to be telling our kids is, instead of focusing on what makes us feel good as parents. It is not easy. But once you commit to expecting them to be strong, and show them that we believe they can be, it gets a LOT easier. If you degrade your children when they fall short of your expectations, expect them to degrade you when you fall short as well. If you ask for forgiveness when you fall, without allowing your failures to be excuses for theirs, you may be surprised by how relieved you both are!
I had a bit of an edge with my son. I decided a LONG time ago to be sure to parent from the point of protection rather than authority. God gives us rules to live by. Once we step out from these rules, we step out of His protection. The rules are not there to ruin our fun or make life miserable. The rules are there for us to get the most enjoyment out of life. Thou shall not commit adultery is not about making sex evil. It is about God saying, "Hey, I don't want you to have to come home from work and find your wife in bed with your neighbor." Thou shall not steal is not about God not wanting you to have nice things. It is about God not wanting you to worry about people stealing YOUR things. Believe it or not, kids get that. They understand it.
Building trust with our kids means being honest. My son knows I am not, and never was a saint. He knows that I made STUPID decisions and choices. Ones that caused HIM hardships. But he knows that I love him. He knows that I will always try and look at what is best for him. I fail. He knows this too. But even as I fail, he knows that it is because I am human and am honest about being human. He knows it is not about trying to convince him I am perfect. He knows I am not- no matter how much I would try to hide it from him. I only have experience on him. He has wisdom over me by a longshot. He trusts me. This is the key.
Treat your kids with respect, and you will get it back. My son knows when I say "no" that he has the opportunity to make his case- as long as he does it RESPECTFULLY. He also knows that I will honestly listen, not just debate or argue. He also knows that once I re-affirm "NO," then the answer is "NO," and he knows that it is "NO" because I love him. He also understands that sometimes the answer is "NO" because it is not best for the family as a whole if the answer were "YES." It takes a little extra effort and time to establish this kind of rapport with your kids, but saves a LOT of time and heartache trying to deal with other "issues."
The most important thing I could ever offer to any parent is this. No matter what, NEVER cut them out of your life. Never become a memory with no contact. NEVER! Once you have done this, you have missed EVERY PART OF PARENTING! EVERY PART! I realize there are times that parents have to step back and let their kids fall. There are times when you cannot help them anymore. They have to fall on their face and deal with the consequences of their choices without us bailing them out. NO DOUBT. But to just step out of their lives completely is the WORST parenting style of all. I know GOOD people who have never seen their grandchildren. I know people who made a mess of their lives and hurt the ones they love- then changed from within- and their families have missed out on the BEST person they have ever been.
There is no such thing as "quitting" as a parent. No such thing. Give me a failing parent. Give me a parent that can't have a sober conversation with their child. But don't show me a person who PUNISHES their child by never talking to them and then call that person a parent. I realize there are many children better off without their parents in their lives. This is different. I am not talking about a parent that is so bad they destroy their kids lives. I am talking about parents who choose to walk out of their child's life as a PUNISHMENT to their child. RIDICULOUS! COWARDLY! IMMATURE!
In the end- we can all only do our best. But when you stop doing anything at all. YOU LOSE ALL RIGHTS TO BE CALLED MOM OR DAD! ALL RIGHTS!
None of us can be perfect parents, but we can all let our kids know we love them. No child EVER deserves a parent to stop letting them know that they love them.