Friday, October 5, 2007

Be the Parent!

Dear Parents Who Refuse to be Parents So Instead Call Me to See if I Will Be the Parent:

I don't have kids. I babysat a bit when I was a teenager and I have a bunch of younger brothers and sisters but they're all real live grown-ups now. So are those baby-sitting kids. A few of them have kids of their own (I'm 80). I teach the teenage Sunday school class at church and sometimes I sub in primary either in a class or on the piano. But that only means that I'm around them for an hour a week, maybe 2. I have a nephew who I got to hang out with for about 6 months before his parents took him away to the Frozen North. He cried a lot but he never talked back.

What I'm trying to say is that I don't have any experience in parenting. I could take a guess at how hard it is but I probably wouldn't even come close. Judging from what I hear from friends with kids, I would imagine that it can be a little brutal. So I'm really not trying to be that haggish single woman with a lot of opinions but nothing to back them up with.

However, this will not stop me from giving those opinions out. And I would like to point out that you've all asked for them. Repeatedly. Often times in tears, begging me to do something because your son won't do his homework. And since many of you don't like hearing what I have to say, maybe seeing it in writing will help. You can print it out and put it up on your fridge, next to your child's parole requirements.

Rachel's Advice on Parenting Based Entirely on Common Sense and What Her Parents Did because She's a Matronly Old Aunt Who likes to Crochet and Wear Brooches.

You are the Parent. Be the Parent. And what does being a Parent make you? The Boss. When your child says to you, "You're not the boss of me," you need to show him his birth certificate (which you should have the original of because you will need it. I promise.) and tell him that he has been misinformed.

As the Parent it is your responsibility to your child to do parently things like clothe and feed him, take him to the park, bake him chocolate chip cookies, give him hugs.

You have the right to make him to do things that he doesn't want to do because they're good for him. Like brush his teeth and go to bed and be kind to his sister. Him not wanting to do it does not make the thing any less beneficial, no matter how long he screams or holds his breath. If given the means and opportunity kids would do nothing but eat raw sugar and not change their underwear for weeks and weeks. I hope you've read Lord of the Flies. This should give you a good idea of exactly what young boys will do when left to their own devices.

You also have a responsibility not just to him but to the law to get him to school. On time. Dressed appropriately. And to help him with his homework. By helping him with his homework you ensure that his homework is actually done. And if he doesn't do his homework remember that you have leverage. You could take his video games away or make him turn the tv off. Or not even turn it on until his homework is done.

If your son is telling you that he's spending 5 hours a day in his room doing homework but his teacher tells you he hasn't turned anything in then he's lying to you. The teacher is telling the truth. Don't blame the teacher. The teacher is not out to get your son. The teacher is not a racist. There is no conspiracy that the entire school is in on to get your son to fail and end up in prison.

Speaking of prison, if the reason why you won't make your son do his homework is because he's 6 feet tall and you're afraid that he's going to hit you then you need to call the police. You should also call the police if he refuses to go to school. I can't make him go to school but the police can. They'll even give him a lift.

You're not doing your kid any favors by defending him when he does something wrong. It really is his fault if he smokes pot or brings a knife to school. His friends aren't forcing him to do it. He deserves to be punished if he breaks the rules. We're really not trying to ruin his life. These are just the consequences of his actions. Perhaps, if you had shown him a few of those earlier in his life you wouldn't be calling me to babysit him.

Remember, you're the Parent. Be the Parent.

Sincerely, Rachel

P.S. You can probably tell that it was a rough day of phone calls.
P.S.2 You should talk to my parents. They're great.


Ms. Liz said...

Oh sweet brave Rachel - What a day. Desperate parents break my heart. I sometimes think that whole "license to parent" might be a good idea. Like you need to exhibit a certain standard of competency and stability before you're allowed to procreate. Then the whole "frustrating the plan of happiness" thing comes to mind and I get off the soap box. But it still breaks my heart.
~~~blessings for your rough and insane phone days~~~

Ginger said...

My Dear Rachel,
You warm my heart!!! The wisdom you possess is beyond your years (even if you are 80 -- does that mean I'm over 100?) I am proud (well-pleased)to be your mother. I was listening to a talk show the other morning where the topic was "Parenting Coaches" for just $70.00 an hour. You should look into it. Just kidding. All the callers suggested, like you, for parents to be parents and spend some time with their child teaching them to be responsible human beings. It is amazing what a little (or a lot) of time and lots of love (and a few amazing chocolte chip cookies) can accomplish. Have an amazing weekend listening to very wise and inspired men and women. I am confident that you will edified, ready to go to battle, once again, Monday Morning!

Love, MOM

Laura said...

To one matronly old aunt to another...all I have to say is: Amen to that, sister!

Anonymous said...

I am the auntie- and I say BRAVO!!

Heather said...

I was going to mention parenting coaches too...But Mom already did that--and she offered more information than I could have. (Thanks!!!) But I do think it is a good idea...and for $70/hour,
maybe I'll be one...