21 July 2010

Parenting 101

  A good friend of mine wrote a speech for a class she took while getting her psychology degree (she just graduated with her Bachelor's degree, congrats Jody).  I had lunch with her today to discuss the "joys" of raising teenagers.  She thought I might find her speech enlightening, and has given me permission to share it here, so that I may enlighten others.  (May you all feel enlightened ; )

Parenting 101 

This speech is intended for parents and future parents of all ages.  Those of you who have decided not to have children, you are very wise and should be revered by all.  I suggest complete abstinence from sex for the rest of your lives (don't take any chances.)  

1.  For those of you who are not yet parents - DON'T DO IT!
2.  For parent's of young children - enjoy it while you can.  You have no idea what you're in for (you fools!)
3.  For parents of teenagers - God help you.  You have my sympathies.
4.  For parents of adults - HOW THE HELL DID YOU SURVIVE?

I feel it is my duty to bring to light some common misconceptions about proper parenting (pun intended). 

(1.)  The first 5 years of a child's life are the most critical years in personality development.  If you are an attentive and conscientious parents during this period of time, you will produce well adjusted, happy teenagers.  

TRUTH - It doesn't really matter what you do because all teenagers will have their heads up their asses and will drive you to drink, so you might as well start drinking now and enjoy the ride.  

(2.)  Teach your children responsibility by requiring them to go to school, do their homework and do simple chores around the house.  This will teach them a good work ethic and to be proud of a job well done.  

TRUTH - You are just wasting your time bitching and nagging at them.  They will turn on you like dogs when they are teenagers, and there is nothing on earth you can do to make them do their homework, including pleading, bribery, water torture and beating the crap out of them.  Go have a drink instead.  

(3.)  Give your children something to believe in.  Teach them your faith and bring them to church or temple or whatever you believe in, regularly.  Being part of a religious community gives children a sense of belonging and teaches them good morals and values.  

TRUTH - They won't hear a single word of any sermons at church in all the years you bring them there.   When they are 6 they will think Jesus is Santa Claus.  When they are 10 they will tell the Sunday School teacher, "My mom yells at my dad all the time."  When they are 14 they will get caught smoking in the church parking lot, and when they are 17 they will tell you that God is a figment of your imagination anyway, and you will believe them.  Screw it.  Go out drinking on Saturday nights and stay in bed nursing your hangover on Sunday mornings instead of dragging those unwilling brats to church every frigging week. 

(4.)  Set a good example for your children.  Children learn by observing those around them.  If you want your children to grow up and be responsible citizens, then you must act responsibly.  

TRUTH - Your teenagers don't want to be like you!  They want to be ANYTHING but you!  They will walk through fire to get AWAY from you.   If you want them to be respectful, responsible human beings, then you should do the OPPOSITE!  Go ahead.....be a big loser!  You will be doing your children a favor in the long run.  Here are some suggestions:  

1.  Get arrested
2.  Lose your job
3.  Be promiscuous
4.  Do drugs
5.  Lie.  Chest.  Steal.
6.  And most importantly - drink heavily.

Thank you for listening.  I feel I have performed a great service to society by dispelling these myths and I urge you to do the same, saving thousands of unsuspecting, would-be parents from lives of disillusionment.  

For those with young children:  I am aware of your superior attitude because I used to have it.  I looked with disdain at my neighbor's children running around outside in their underwear and cowboy boots, while their mother sipped a margarita on her back deck.  I was SURE that my children would NEVER act like that.  I WAS WRONG!  Now I'm downing tequila straight from the bottle while my children are running around on college campuses doing God Knows What, wearing God Knows What, only calling home when they need money.  I should have started drinking long ago.   

~Jody Powers

18 July 2010

Parenting Teens

“Parents can only give good advice or put them on the right paths, but the final forming of a person's character lies in their own hands.”  
~Anne Frank~

I used to judge parents.  I used to be the one, when my girls were little, who would sit on the park bench while my darling little daughters played, as sweet little girls do, and look at other people's children and marvel at how well behaved my mine were in comparison.  I used to wonder what was wrong with those parents, how come they had such awful kids.  I used to see friends or acquaintances who had messed up teens.  Granted I didn't have teens yet, but oh how I stood in judgment of those parents.  The things they must have done wrong in raising their kids, those terrible teens, rebellious, outcasts, always in trouble. Those terrible parents, they did such an awful job of parenting. 

Now that I have teens:  Hahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!  The joke is now on me! 

I have now repented of my past thoughts.  Oh how easy it is to stand in judgment until you have walked in another's shoes.  

Sure I still think how we parent affects our kids.  But I no longer think I have complete control over how my kids will turn out. They are individuals, each one completely different.  They have their own way of viewing the world and how they see themselves in it.  It is amazing when you have more than one child to see how different they are.  Usually you have parented them both the same.  Sure birth order affects some of how we parent, but for the most part, unless you blatantly favor one child over another, they were raised in the same house, shouldn't they be similar?  Not always. 

I never thought I'd have teen issues.  (I know, am I completely naive/stupid/ignorant/arrogant or what?)  I thought because I was raising my kids in a home of mutual respect, where I tried to always hear my kids side of things, where I often changed my mind on things after hearing their opinion, where I thought we had complete and total communication, that I wouldn't have teen issues.  Teens only acted out when they weren't heard/understood/cared for.  I did/do all of those things for my kids.  Surely they wouldn't go through any teen angst stuff.  Hahahahahahahahahahahaha.  I'm laughing so hard to keep from crying. 

This parenting thing is hard.  I never really thought it would be easy.  I remember when I had my eldest daughter.  She was about 3 weeks old.  I was tired/overwhelmed/feeling a bit post-partum and my mother came to visit.  I was crying to my mom that I didn't know what I was doing, how hard this baby thing was, and that maybe I should have stuck with cats (I am serious cat person : )  Sometimes I still feel that way.

Of course I love my daughters dearly and wouldn't trade them for cats any day.  But in my naivety I thought each stage would get easier.  Hahahahahahahahahhaha (there I go laughing to keep from crying again).  It was physically hard on me when they were young.  I got very little sleep, always felt like I needed to "do" for them, be it feeding, bathing, changing, etc.  It would get emotionally hard when I was exhausted, especially when I felt like I had no support or because I had to do everything myself.  But it wasn't emotionally hard in that I had to deal with their emotions.  It wasn't emotionally hard because they were breaking my heart. Now that I am parenting teens, it is no longer physically hard, but it is emotionally hard.  Teenagers rip your heart from your chest. 

I remember being a teen.  I am not one of those parents who has completely forgotten her childhood/teen years and parent from a place of "do as I say not as I do".  I was a horrible teen.  I remember it vividly.  Granted my parents were no "parents of the year" and they had big issues of their own which didn't translate into parenting well, but looking back I know they did the best they could.  I suffered from terrible angst, although I only really showed it at home.  I was bitchy and moody.  All the time.  I was rebellious and all that entails.  I remember once my mother telling me she couldn't wait until I had teenagers of my own.  Well mom, I know you aren't here to see it, but you must be smirking in heaven, because it seems you have gotten your wish, I have teenagers! 

I love my girls, I really do.  I wouldn't trade this life for anything.  I'd lay down my life for them.  And some days are wonderful, we are good friends and able to hang out and have fun and talk.  Just what I dreamed my life with my daughters would be like.  Then other days, {shudder}, it's like they were abducted by aliens overnight and are no longer my children.  Those days are hard.  They make me question everything I have ever done since they were born.  Those days make me long for when they were toddlers, oblivious to the influences of the world.  Just warm little bundles of joy, who just wanted to curl up in mama's lap.  I know I can't go back in time and I really don't want to.  I look forward to watching them grow up and become young women who have lots to offer this world.  And I know they have lots to offer.  I know they can make a difference in this world.  If they can only survive these teen years.  Terrible two's?   Hahahahahahahahahahahaha!  They ain't got nothing on the terrible teens!  

"can't you see that you're smothering me
holding too tightly, afraid to lose control
cause everything that you thought i would be
has fallen apart right in front of you"

~Linkin Park -