Parenting in this day in age is so goddamn hard. You’ve got to defend your every action to the masses, because there’s always someone watching who thinks you’re doing it wrong.
But for all those people watching, thinking you’re doing it wrong (and often telling you as much, to your face), nobody helps. That saying, it takes a village to raise a child, came from somewhere. Once upon a time, the children in a community were everyone’s responsibilities. Kids would play out on streets until the streetlights came on, and then they’d go home. A couple of parents would stand watch on their front porches, keeping a careful eye but never micromanaging their play.
People let kids be kids. People let kids play with rocks and sticks and rough house and play tag. There wasn’t iPhones or tablets, there wasn’t that mindset of if you are not there behind your child the entire time they’re playing on the play structure at the park, you’re a bad parent.
Now, people will easily throw stones at other parents without lifting a single finger to help. In fact, if they do open their mouths – it only adds to the problem. They almost always side with the kid, or try to go around the parent’s wishes. It’s happened to me so many goddamn times that it’s a wonder I even leave my house with my kids. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been at the store, told my kids that no, they can’t have a new toy or candy, and then immediately had some older person offer to buy it for them, or tell me that they’re only young once.
No, no, no, no, NO!
And guess what else…there were legit, immediate consequences for bad behavior.
When I was four years old, I stole something from the Sears store while my mother was busy at the post office. I’d asked her, and she said no. It was one of those plastic eggs full of candy and shaped like a bunny – for Easter, I think. I really wanted it, so I took it and hid it. I made it to the grocery store before my prize fell from my pocket and landed on the tiles. My mother heard, and she immediately knew what I did. She took me right back to the Sears store, marched me up to the counter in front of a huge line up to make me the item I’d stolen and apologize. When I tried to refuse to do that, she spanked me in front of all those people. Yeah, it was embarrassing, yeah, the smack may have stung. But it got the point across. I apologized, I returned the item, and I never stole again.
The cashier didn’t interrupt. The cashier didn’t try to tell my mother and me that it was okay, these things happen. Kids will be kids after all. The cashier allowed my mother to parent. There were no judgmental glances or whispers about how “abusive” it was, if you disobeyed your parents, if you did something extremely bad – you got a spank and a stern talking to. You learned your lesson, and you lived to tell the tale.
You can’t parent like that now-a-days. You can’t talk sternly to your child, especially not in a public place. You certainly can’t spank your child, because that’s abusive. It’s easier to just give in and let your kids have whatever bloody thing they’re screeching for, because if you don’t give in, the comments and judgmental looks start. They’re only young once! Why don’t you just buy the little guy a sucker?
So what do we have? We have a generation of kids that do not respect their elders. We have a generation of kids that expect to get every single thing they want without working for it. We have a generation of kids that are whiny and self-entitled, and it’s going to get worse with this mindset of micromanaging your child’s entertainment. We have a generation of parents who don’t know how to parent the way they were parented, because they’re told every time they turn around that it’s wrong.
All those goddamn articles on the Internet spewing angry words to the mom on her iPhone instead of “playing with her kid at the park”. All those goddamn articles that basically tell you soft gentle guidance is the only way to parent. It’s all so confusing to the average parent.
There isn’t just one way to parent. There isn’t just one solution and what works for one kid may not work for another. I definitely do not place all of the blame on parents for poorly behaving kids – I place the blame on all of us, because this is what we’ve allowed our society to become. This is the example we are setting. We are a bunch of judgmental, entitled assholes that throw stones instead of helping one another.
We should stop doing that, don’t you think? We should go back to the old days, things were much simpler and kids had respect for their elders, each other, and themselves.