I feel something that comes up time and time again in conversations with friends of mine who are parents is the feeling our kids get away with a lot more than we ever did when we were younger.
This is often expressed outside school when we nearly lose our voices calling our kids to hurry up and come along as we have to fecking get to Aldi and they run around completely ignoring our pleas like they are the ones in control. And the desperate thing is that they kinda are.
I almost never get my daughter Joan to do the thing I want her to do with one request. Instead it can take up to nine or ten times asking her to brush her teeth or get dressed before it actually happens.
Then I have to wonder whose fault is this. I don’t want her to fear her parents or do things because she would be terrified to disobey us.
The way parents, dad’s in particular, were painted in the past as these imposing family figures, just wait til your father gets home!
You always hear people say “when I was a kid and my parents said do it, you did it!”
Or we wouldn’t dare dream of talking back. But surely there has to be a happy medium between total fear and blatant disregard.
I am sure in most cases we weren’t raised by tyrannical parents — it was just we did actually have that respect kids have for adults and their authority. Something our children likely have even though it seldom feels like it! I am also sure our parents often felt the way we do now — which is why the hell do they not listen to us?!
I believe a collective understanding and want for our children to grow up in nurturing and gentle environments, to be active participants in family life, to help make co decisions and to become complete young beings. But one of the trickiest things as parents is to achieve this all the while having enough authority that we do get cooperation from our kids.
We get good waves of this in our household whereby Joan and I work together very well to get done the daily things that need to be done. There are plenty of times that she doesn’t fight doing homework or gets into pj’s with only one request.
I find this happens most often when we are more conversational about it. When I present it like a decision she can make but all within the confines of what actually needs to happen. For example I often let her decide on the order of the evening, do you want to do homework before your bath etc…
This happens on evenings when we aren’t stressed or rushed and we can take our time, but isn’t always possible. We get so tired as parents, with school commutes, after school activities, looking after households and working.
And this is when the ‘old school’ parent comes out with the loud voices and scary threats, which ultimately leaves no one feeling good.
Basically we just need our kids do what we ask them to do all the time! Simple. So if there are any kids reading this. We love you, we really just want the best for you.
So when we ask you to brush your teeth really well its because we don’t them to fall out of your head when you are 17.
When we ask you to look both ways it’s for your own good and when we suggest you get dressed it’s because you need clothes to go outside of the house and do things!!
So please please just do as we ask and listen to us. Signed parents of the world!