There are those in my life that don’t have any children. In fact, NONE of my friends have children. Still, hubby and I have these and other childless people telling us how to raise our boys. Some of these things are upsetting to me. Some piss hubby off to the point where he wants to remove them from our lives.
The friends, not the kids.
I’ve decided that, having heard these things from other parents in person, on Facebook and many blogs, to put a few of the most irritating ones, to me, here.
1. “Are you actually going to let him dress/talk like that?”
Yes, we are. He is an individual and allowed the freedom to express himself the way he wants. If he wants to wear safety pins in his ears and nose, paint his nails black and have skulls on his shirt, why should we get upset? It’s a phase, he’ll outgrow it. Eventually. If he decides to tell you, in no uncertain terms, how he feels, Who are we to deny him his first amendment rights? As long as he’s respectful and doesn’t use severely obscene language, he’s allowed his voice in our family. Don’t like it? Sucks to be you. The door is over there.
2. “your house smells atrocious! When are you going to MAKE him stop wetting the bed?”
Firstly, noone can force someone to stop wetting the bed. He has a medical condition and can’t help the way he is. Trust us, we’ve done EVERYTHING except electroshock. Do you honestly think that we don’t know how bad it is? For crying out loud, we have to LIVE here! Trust us, we know and it embarrasses us to death. Why do you think we never have you over? How about buying something to help get rid of the smell instead of complaining? Or just don’t come over. Plain as that.
3.”Why don’t you MAKE him go to school? Don’t you need time for yourself?”
We were given the Blessed opportunity to be parents. For us, this means a unique opportunity to actually be an active part of a small humans life. To us, this is a responsibility we take seriously enough to understand that we can have “adult time” when they are gone. We are PARENTS with the ability to really BE parents since neither of us can work. We don’t want to go to luncheons. We WANT to teach and nurture our offspring so they don’t become the punk on the street corner, selling drugs. You’ll thank us some day. Especially if our son saves your life. Even homeschoolers can become doctors and First Responders. Or presidents.
4. “why don’t you force them to do their chores?”
Firstly, let me ask you if you’ve ever been forced to do something? If so, how were you forced, without coercion or pain involved? We don’t believe in forcing our children to do anything. We believe that it deflates their personage and could result in rebellion. A rebellious child is worse than a child that doesn’t do chores. Besides, they do chores. Just not the ones you think they should.
We allow the children to suffer the consequences of their actions, or in-actions. We use these results to teach them how to be adults, to take responsibility for their decisions. If they want, for instance, to play a video game and the dishes don’t get done before they go to bed, the first thing they have to do in the morning is dishes. Before breakfast. Then they have to do an extra chore as well AND they get the games taken from them for a day. If Eldest doesn’t do his laundry, he wears the same shirt all week and gets teased by his peers. He learns that is unacceptable and begins doing his laundry. Of his own accord. He has learned what is and is not acceptable in society.
5. “Could you try to keep your kid from crying? It’s very distracting/annoying!”
Though it happens never since my boys are almost 10 and 13, I would hear these words, usually the one time in MONTHS that the boys were in a snit because of being tired/sick/injured or hungry. Usually it would come at the end of a long day of riding the city bus from one end of town to the other for doctors appointments.
I remember one such day. We had been on the city bus, going places since 8 AM and our last stop was the store. We got there around 4 PM and the kids were already whining. I HAD to get milk because we were out. Youngest was in the basket seat, elder was in the grocery part, riding as always when elder spotted a cereal he wanted. Unfortunately we were only there with WIC checks and it wasn’t on the Allow list. I explained this to him but, at four, it’s impossibly hard to understand so, he started wailing. That set off youngest who was 1.
I HAD to continue shopping. I couldn’t just take them to the car because we didn’t have one. For the next 15 minutes I had dueling toddlers with me and every single person in the store looked at me with either disgust or pity. I got my groceries and left, walking the three blocks with groceries and crying kids.
So many people I’ve heard, since then, make comments when they see/hear something like that to the effect of, “why can’t that parent shut that kid up?” or “My God, what’s wrong with that parent, they can’t even control their kid!!” You must remember that it is very hard to be a child. All these awesome/yummy things just out of reach and tempting you, then mommy says that dreaded word that you hate because you know you won’t be getting said item. Your world has just denied you, in your exhausted and hungry state, what you think you need. It’s suddenly so bad that you have to express your utter devastation in the only way you know how, with tears. It’s the only thing you have that you, as a toddler, can control. Moms main duty here is:
1. Make sure the child gets the food they need for their little tummy and
2. to teach the child that the world is not fair and they, sometimes, don’t get what they want. No matter how hard they kick and scream. This second thing is a very wise thing to teach children young so they don’t become preteens with laptops, Xboxes, cell phones and PDAs Etc. that the parent cannot afford without taking a third job, thus denying the thing the child needs most. The parent.
Luckily, for our neighborhood, the bakery section had free cookies for the kids and that was normally the first place we would go. That way the kids have something to eat and their little tummies are happy, their blood sugar is straightened out and all’s well with the world, even if mommy says no. This doesn’t always appease the tears but, it’s a start. We only had three meltdowns, in stores, the entire time my two boys were tantrum age. They were the ones, normally, that would see another child upset and go try to comfort the child while I spoke of trivial things with the parent. THIS helps more than dirty looks and pity. ASK the parent if you can help. Maybe watch their buggy while they take the child to the restroom or outside to calm down. Maybe suggest, casually, that they get the child a cookie to calm them down if you’re in such a store that has those. Wal-Mart never did but King Soopers/Krogers always does.
PLEASE, as the friend/neighbor/family/total stranger, keep your words of wisdom to yourself. We’ve been inundated with “advice” since before little one was born. We appreciate your “help” but, if you truly want to help, action speaks louder than words. ASK us if you can help. Talk to us like we are adults, not some child that needs teaching. Some of us have done this longer than you’ve been alive so, cut us some slack. We LIVE with these kids. We know them and their abilities. Take that into consideration before you open your mouth. I know you mean well but criticizing my parenting style is not helpful and, you never know. Maybe if you were around us more, you’d know that your advice doesn’t apply to us. Perhaps you’ll learn that our parenting style is Da Bomb.
It’s happened before.