This is one of those mom posts that won’t apply to those of you with cute little babies or precocious toddlers. I’m not sure exactly who is does apply to except to say that you will know when it does. And when it does (if it hasn’t already), these will be words that you will need to hear and take to heart.
At some point in their development, our kids will all get to a point where they make their own conscious decisions regardless of what we have taught them since they were born. At first the decisions will be inconsequential like choosing a blue shirt or green. Then they will become more important but we will accept them even if we don’t like them (like choosing band over choir) because we want them to become more independent.
Then they will start to make decisions that we not only do not like, but that we feel personally affronted by and and want to scream at them “I didn’t raise you to be like this!!!”
It might have happened early for you when you found out that your kid stole something from another kid’s backpack or bullied another kid at school.
If might have happened a little later when you found out they were having sex or smoking pot or sneaking out at night.
As parents, we often take this as a personal hit to our parenting skills. In fact, other parents will be quick to blame us as well. “Where were her parents???”
The reality is that even though we didn’t raise our kids to make bad or illegal or immoral choices, we DID raise them to make choices. The choices they make will be influenced by what we taught them, but we can’t be so naive as to think that they aren’t impacted by other things. Consider:
- Peer groups and other family members have a major impact on their decisions. We aren’t the only voices they are hearing every day.
- Every one of us has made choices in life that we regret later. This might one of those decisions for them.
- Just because it isn’t YOUR decision, it doesn’t mean it is a WRONG decision (setting aside the illegal ones or the ones that hurt other people).
- It’s human nature to push boundaries. They tested us as babies and toddlers, why wouldn’t they continue to push those boundaries just because the stakes are higher?
- How “bad” something is in your mind is probably relative. Catching your 16-year-old swearing when you have “forbidden” them to do it may mean breaking one of your rules but may also be the kind of rules that eventually give way.
- Kids have to make mistakes to learn from them. It’s how they mature and figure out their parents really are actually very smart after all.
If you are sitting there smugly thinking “my kid has never done anything I would be embarrassed about” then either you are raising a nun or have your head in the sand or your time is coming. I could Facebook 10 parents right now with things I know their kids have done or said that would have them taking away cell phones and limiting who their kids associate with. You won’t always know the choices your kids make, and that isn’t always a bad thing (something I am having to learn and let go of).
Parenting is hard (they should give us that on a plaque when we leave the hospital with the baby). Parenting kids into young adults is harder than any of us imagined. But think back to some of the choices you made along the way and how you turned out. I suspect that although you regret some of it, you still came through okay nonetheless?