Monday, September 23, 2013

Dear Parents: parenting matters

Dear parents,

Parenting is exhausting. It’s hard work – I know from experience. Kids get into everything, play with everything…and then leave everything. I get it. It’s tiring and overwhelming and wonderful – sometimes even all at once! But from one mom to another, can I be honest for a second?

I firmly believe we are doing our kids a disservice. When we are tired and we don’t enforce rules, we’re saying apathy is ok. When we laugh off a child’s failure to put things back where it belongs, we teach them not to value cleanliness. When we let a child tear up property that isn’t theirs and don’t do anything about it, we fail to educate our child that everything has value and is worth protecting.

This comes from some recent observations and it’s frustrating. Sure, you probably took your kid(s) to this place because they were climbing the walls at your house! However, we don’t get a break from parenting (unless you count those nights where the babysitter’s in charge – please parents, tell me you take those nights!?). We knew that when we were pregnant and attended the baby classes. But now we KNOW it! We live it. It takes a toll on us. But in the scheme of life, 18 years is nothing. So hang in there parents. We’re all tired. We all are overwhelmed. But please please please! Don’t give up on parenting.

Teach your child they can play with as many things as they want, but what they get out must go back in its own place. Teach your child to respect property – both theirs and others. Teach them that if something breaks, gets torn, or they lose their mind for a minute that it’s ok, but that there are consequences. The consequence may be simply saying “I’m sorry” or it may be working to earn money to replace it. But teach them consequences. Teach them with rewards too! Reward their good behavior! Reward them for putting things back. Reward them for obeying rules! It doesn’t mean big rewards – verbal praise or a hug is enough. They simply need to know that they’re doing things right.
We lose the right to complain about other's children, or our society, or even simply our own children when we forget to parent. If we're not living it - in the trenches, exhausted, weary, overwhelmed to tears, excited, laughing with our kiddos, rolling on the floor, baking cookies, and cleaning the house side by side with them - we don't get to complain. Today, I'm in it. Today I'm living it, so I write this with a clear conscious. Tomorrow, this may come back to bite me. It's a day by day struggle and I know it.  Hang in there! Keep it up! Parenting matters. You matter.


Shelby said...

Well said, Rachel. I let mine slide on a lot of things because of our circumstances (and guilt) and we are all 3 learning the hard way that remediating this stuff in the teens and early 20s is a lot harder than it would have been to, no matter what, teach them right the first time.

Y'all are good parents! :-)