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You Always Need To Love Your Family - But Sometimes Liking Them Is Optional. And That's Okay Too.
A moment of liking each other.
On consequences and lectures
Yesterday, I posted the following as my Facebook status:
"My promise to my kid's ~ I am your friend, but also your parent. I will stalk you, flip out on you, lecture you, drive you insane, be your worst nightmare & hunt you down like a bloodhound when needed because I LOVE YOU! When you understand that, I will know you are a responsibl e adult. You will NEVER find someone who loves, prays, cares & worries about you more than I do! Re-post if you are a parent and agree ♥"
My uncle responded that he thinks the best thing you can do for a child is to give them the freedom to make their own mistakes without fear of consequences. And to a large extent, I am totally with him. Kids - and people in general - need to make mistakes to learn from and to figure out who they are. The thing is, even if I as a parent don't give my kid a consequence for their mistake, the world in general will. There is no mistake without a consequence. I am 37. I am able to deal with most consequences. My kids are nine and five. They have a limited ability to do the same. So while I am all for letting them make their mistakes, I am only willing to do so when the consequences they might face are ones that they can deal with and understand at their levels of development.
Aside from that, my job as a parent is to teach my kids that there are consequences, whether they are imposed by society or myself and their Dad. It is my job to give them guidance and the benefit of what I learned from my mistakes - I have no doubts they'll come up with enough of their own. Some people think I'm too strict as a parent, and maybe I am. But I do everything I do because I love my girls. I want the best for them. I want to help them figure out who they are, and to find a way to become good people at the same time. I want them to know what is safe, and what isn't. I want them to learn accountability and responsibility. I want them to not turn out to be assholes. I want them to learn respect for themselves and others.
So, to my girls:
There are things I will sit back and watch. You want to chop all your hair off? Well okay (even if I'm cringing inside because my Mom always made me keep my hair really short and I was frequently mistaken for a boy), I'll book the appointment and drive you, and let you decided if you hate it or love it. Japanimation? Really not my thing, but you knock yourself out. You think eating animals is cruel? I will try to have enough non-meat options with the meals for you. You like all the sports teams I hate? I guess I can't stop you. I might grumble about it, but I expect that's what you're after in the first place. Gaga for Lady Gaga? I'll just turn my music up louder. You're wearing that? Okay. I'm just going to walk a few steps away from you. Again, you're probably fine with that. And as much as it will hurt me to do so, I will sit back and watch you figure out the heartbreak and joys that can be friendships at this age. I'll be a shoulder to cry on, but I'm not going to tell you who you need to play with. You think pepper is going to taste good on a piece of bread? Let me know how that turns out for you. Swearing like a sailor? Well, I can't really say too much myself. You'll figure out soon enough who is okay with that and who isn't. Did the cat scratch you? What were you doing to the cat? Fall off the bed while jumping on it? What did we learn from this? What should you be when you grow up? Only you can decide that, but don't worry - you've got lots of time. Until then, dream and plan as only a child can.
However. You are nine and five. Far too soon you'll be 16 and 12. There are certain things I feel I would be negligent as a parent if I didn't correct you on. If any of the following occur, prepare for consequences. Being disrespectful to your Father or me, your grandparents, aunts or uncles? That's a lecture. Bullying other kids? Lecture. Letting someone who has been drinking drive you home from a party. Oh boy, BIG lecture. Being cruel to animals? I'd tell you to sit down for your lecture, but you'll proably want to stand after the kick in the ass you got first. Stealing candy from a store? A lecture, and then marching you back into the store to apologize. Sneaking out? Grounded, after a lecture. Cheating in school? Grounded, extra homework and a lecture. Making fun of someone in a cruel way (as opposed to giving me the gears when I spill water on myself again. This is okay)? Well hey, guess what? That's a lecture. Hanging out with people I think are a bad influence? Hounding and a lecture (I said I wouldn't say who you had to play with, I never said I'd not say who you couldn't). Smoking? Grounded from everything but air and a lecture (I should point out, I know many fine people who are smokers. But for reasons I feel are pretty obvious, that doesn't mean I want my girls to start up). Drugs? See above. Not respecting yourself enough to tell a boy 'no' when you are feeling 'no'? A lecture. For so many other things that will crop up as you grow up, there will be lectures.
Yes. That's a lot of lectures. But that doesn't mean you're going to do what I say. You are still going to make the choice on your own as to what you'll do. But at least you'll have an idea of what the consequences might be if you do. You'll be making an informed choice on issues that are somewhat more important than what you do with your hair and what kind of music you listen to. And the reason I am lecturing you is because I want you to be safe. I want you to be responsible. I want you to work hard and to be honest. I want you to be kind and to have all sorts of different kinds of friends and experiences. I want you to have a strong sense of self, and to respect that self. I want you to understand that every action has a reaction, and to make sure you are able to deal with those reactions. I hope that if your Dad and I give you consequences, it will save society or the law for giving you a more serious one later in life. Most of all, as the Facebook status said, I will do all these things because I love you more than you will ever know if and until you have children of your own. And I want you to love yourselves, too. Because you're both fabulous. I will love you forever no matter what choices you make or where you end up in life, but I'm still going to lecture.
Oh, and? I will also embarrass you in front of your friends and in malls, but that's mostly just because it amuses me.