As a teacher and mom, I’m seeing a lot of complacency lately when it comes to parenting. Some of it stems from exhaustion or the sheer fear of our children. You might not like what I am about to say, but I am tired of being quiet about this and it needs to be said. You are the parent. Your kids can handle some rules and discipline. Repeat after me: I am the parent; they are the kids. Say it one more time: I am the parent; they are the kids. Now, please, be the parent and parent your kids.
I have witnessed countless episodes of mean kids on the playground. I am so tired of it. I am tired of parenting my kids when it feels like nobody else is parenting theirs. It’s insane how kids can just push other kids and nobody says anything. It’s wrong when the toddler gets pushed down the slide. I am not saying you need to hover over your kids, but at least check in every so often that they are being nice people.
Recently, I saw a five-year-old boy walking in the parking lot playing on an iPad. I love screen time for my kids because it totally allows me some personal freedom, but playing on an iPad while walking around moving cars is dangerous. Fortunately, his dad realized this isn’t a good idea and tried to take the iPad away. The response? Kid didn’t let him take it! Mom tried, too. The result? Kid continues walking with iPad in hand in a parking lot. Seriously? Who is the boss here? I sympathize that no one likes tantrums, but some things are actually unsafe enough to stand up and be the parent. Remember, I am the parent; they are the kids.
Just last week, I showed my son the car we were about to purchase: a red Toyota Highlander. I asked him what he thought, and he said he wanted silver. I kindly explained to him that although I appreciated his feedback and we’d look into it, he really has no say in this decision. He took it like a champ (after some pouting) because he doesn’t always get to choose, and he knows that’s okay. I almost told my husband to look into silver, but I reminded myself: I am the parent; they are the kids.
My all-time favorite teacher story is the one where the kid comes home from school and tells his parents what happened that day. Generally, this kid sees his side of a misunderstanding at school and relays that to the parent, which then gets blown out of proportion. The parents call the teacher, principal, superintendent, and often ultimately, the news media to report the horrible thing that happened (forgive my exaggeration; there are times when there’s a legitimate wrong done, but generally this is not the case). When this happens in your home, please remember, I am the parent; they are the kids. Take a minute, hear the story again. Ask for a recap. Inquire if there could be another side. Practice empathy with your child. Instead of asking who started it, maybe ask, how did it make you feel? What would you do differently?
I feel like I look around lately and I am not sure where all the parents have gone. I know you are tired, frustrated and even sometimes a bit scared of them. I see you parents and I am too. Some days, I feel like throwing my hands up in the air and saying I’m not cut out for this. But, they are watching us. Their big eyes are looking to us as role models. They are learning from us and if we can be their parents, set boundaries and show them love and affection, the world can and will be a better place.