If you’re an adult, I have a favor to ask of you. Please don’t try to be friends with my children.
I mean, don’t get me wrong…I want you to be nice to them, really nice to them! But, they will have plenty of opportunities in their lifetimes to make friends. They don’t need that from you.
However, what I need is so much more important for me and for them. I need an ally.
You see, I’ve noticed that many parents (and other adults) today want to be “cool” more than they want to be positive influences.
Some try to be cool parents in an attempt to thrust their kids towards the top of the social food chain. Others seem to think that being cool means they will have a better relationship with their children.
These are easy traps to fall into. My oldest is only five and I’m tempted by the same traps already, especially as someone who often spends too much time dwelling on other people’s opinion of me.
As a result of this way of thinking, though, people don’t always behave the way folks seemed to just a couple of decades ago.
For example, when I was a kid, my parents always knew, even before I got home, the bonehead things I’d done during the day…and that wasn’t because I had posted it on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. It was because my mother had eyes all over town. She had allies.
My mom actually taught at my high school, so if I so much as sneezed out of turn she knew! I remember one time when a teacher pulled me out of class for a good talking-to…and guess who walked by!? (She didn’t even need an ally for that one!)
It seemed that no matter where I went, someone knew my parents and they let me know it too…like it was some type of warning system. And, I can tell you that this alone kept me out of a great deal of trouble!
People don’t really do this anymore, at least not that I’ve observed. But why not?
I think somewhere along the way we started grading parents based on the mistakes that their kids make. In other words, whenever a child does something stupid, we immediately assume it’s a direct result of poor parenting. And, in doing so, we stopped teaming with other parents and started talking about them.
I don’t think this was the case for my parents’ generation. People seemed to understand that the mistakes kids made were actually a direct result of…being a kid! It didn’t mean (necessarily) that bad parenting was in play, it meant we were young, immature, and clueless about the full repercussions of our actions.
I mean, if the mark of good parenting is a perfect child who never makes bad choices, then I have no chance of being a good parent, and neither does anyone else.
Kids are going to make mistakes. I did (a lot) and so did you. Oh, and guess what, parents make mistakes too!
That’s why we need to lend each other a hand or a set of eyes…especially in the world we live in today where technology is making it easier and easier for kids to hide things. (Snapchat, etc.) Yes, apps can do amazing things these days, but there’s no subsitute for experience!
So please don’t try to be friends with my children. Be my ally instead. Help me protect my kids from themselves…from the dangers of instant gratification and the pitfalls of focusing too much on the moment rather than long term effects of the decisions they’ll make.
Please don’t be afraid to “rat them out” because it isn’t cool. Don’t let me be the last to know that my kids are involved with something that’s potentially harmful, and don’t be concerned about whether or not my children like you.
I much prefer that they respect you. Trust me, as they get older, they’ll like you so much more because they will understand how you had their best interests in mind…even when it wasn’t cool. I have a great deal of respect for those “rats,” many of them teachers.
When it’s all said and done, I want my kids to know that I’m looking out for them…that I have their backs…that I’m here to catch them when they fall. And, if they know that, I’m pretty sure they couldn’t care less that I remember all the words to Ice, Ice Baby, know what twerking is, or that Johnny down the street thinks I’m the coolest dad on the block.
What do you think? Am I on to something or just old fashioned?