This article was originally posted on MsCheevious.com as part of the "Lessons Learned While Conquering the World" series. Enjoy.
I sat down at the end of week-one of my glorious vacation to Manchester By the Sea, MA, just 30 miles North of Boston (visiting the family of M.C. Nugget), to write this quick article.
After promising to encourage you to BE the person you would want your kids to be (or something along those lines – as a follow up to “Lessons Learned While Conquering the World: #1 Overcommitting is a Bitch“), I serendipitously read a post on Huffington Post Parents – an interview with psychologist Madeline Levine, author of the book everyone is buzzing about, “Teach Your Children Well: Parenting for Authentic Success.” Funny. It must be in the ether out there – this concern about raising good, smart, well-adjusted kids.
I know what I promised, but I’ve decided to shorten the point. How about “How to deliver kids to this world that don’t suck?”
You singles without kids — Don’t run away too quickly. Because turning out a generation that won’t enter movie theaters with an arsenal of weapons intending to kill everyone in its path (or at best, steal, lie and cheat…) is apparently a job for the entire community, because it ain’t happening through their parents. And accomplishing something TRULY radical, like maybe raising responsible, smart, successful, well-adjusted kids… and hell, how about kids who end up as fun-to-be-around adults for a change? That’s even more on us. Yep, US. That means you and me.
Why us? Because most parents are failing miserably, far and wide. They aren’t even trying to be parents. They’re trying to be best friends to their kids. What’s worse is they aren’t even succeeding at that. At best, they are the most unpopular friend in their kids’ circle of friends. They’re the one that gets picked on and hazed by their spoiled kids and his or her spoiled friends.
Oops. Now I’ve gone and offended a whole slew of people. Probably most people. Because, as I said – most parents today suck at parenting.
Now, before you get all twisted inside and write me hate mail, or provide me a laundry list of all of the things you do right for your kids – let me qualify this by saying, you are probably the exception. And I mean that. Which means that your kids are the exception as well. So, in your case, this article is merely going to serve as robust ammunition for you, when a rock is thrown through your front window by someone else’s lousy kids, who were all the while laughing, not at all afraid of repercussion from you… (I swear, it’s the stuff psycho-thiller flicks are made of. Where the “good” parent blows a gasket, punishing and torturing all the horrible kids to a cheering theatre audience). Then you can bring up how these other parents are failing their kids, themselves and society as a whole.
Also, I am not talking about mentally challenged kids or parents, or all of the rare instances and situations that are the exception to what I’m saying. You know who I’m writing about here. You all know parents who suck. They can’t control their kids, they don’t do anything to teach their kids right from wrong, and sometimes they even justify their kids’ wrong-doing, because they want their kids to “discover” what’s right or wrong “for them.” Whatever the hell that means. God forbid they establish and hold them to any “rules.” As if anything in life ever required anyone to follow “rules!”
So much for writing a quick article. Let me speed things along here.
Hang onto your hats, because earth-shattering points are not easily made in short, succinct posts. But I’m pretty good. I’ll make it happen. Pay attention. This is going to be quick. I’m going to ROCK YOUR WORLD with just TWO things sucky parents can do to insure that their little darling Suzy won’t end up in the state women’s correctional institution.
Though my kids are still growing, and the jury is still out on how they’ll turn out, I’ve learned some things along the way, while conquering this great world of ours. Trust me. I battle these things every day with my own kids, their own role models and step-parents, and I evaluate my own actions constantly to be sure I’m not a sucky parent as well.
Here they are:
1. MAN (OR WOMAN) UP
You are the boss. They are the underling. End of story. What you say goes. You are not perfect, you may not even be right, but you are the BOSS. You have earned your right to make mistakes, even if they don’t like it or it doesn’t sound “fair.” It is not a democracy. You were not voted into this office. They have an issue with you being in office? Tell them to talk to the great GENE POOL in the sky, because you didn’t ask for them to show up and stage a mutiny either. Tough Toast kiddos.
This doesn’t mean you lousy parents can lay down martial law and go all NUTSO up in your kids’ faces. I’m not talking abuse here. You have to figure out a balance, and be sure to temper yourself with what’s “RIGHT.” And you’ll need the next step to help you out.
2. DO WHAT YOU SAY (Otherwise known as DO UNTO OTHERS baby)
If you’ve ever been a lousy parent (at any moment of any day), you’ve probably said this all-to-familiar line (or heard it when your own parents were being lousy): Do as I say, NOT as I do.
Now how the HELL is THAT going to work? As asinine it sounds, lousy parents around the globe actually tell their kids to behave in ways they don’t even attempt to exemplify. ”Don’t lie”… (it’s not lying if I really must miss work), “Don’t cheat” (unless of course I could win ALOT of money), “Don’t steal” (it’s really just borrowing.. my sister never uses that), the list goes on.
FAILURE-LOSER parents don’t brush their teeth every single day and night, don’t wash their hands before meals, and after every bathroom use, don’t take the grocery cart back to the rack in the parking lot, and don’t refrain from gossiping about other adults behind their backs, all the while telling their kids to do those very things.
Hey – we all screw those things up! But sucky parents screw up and pretend they didn’t or make excuses for themselves, telling their kids to do the right thing without fail. You non-parents are no angels here either. Hey, my son who’s under eighteen lives out of state with his dad. I get it. We are use to living single, child-free lives. We expect kids to be sweet and respectful to everyone, then make exceptions and excuses for ourselves when we curse like sailors in traffic, or at the mall parking lot… or really, anytime it’s convenient (the excuses part, people… not the cussing part… although I do that whenever it’s convenient too).
The point is – If you do what you SAY, you’ll be a better person. PERIOD. The kids in your life will be better too.
If you screw up, admit it, address it, apologize, and move forward and make an effort to DO WHAT YOU SAY the next time. Is it really that difficult?
I’m done. Go forth and change the kids of the world, already, would you?
Lisa Jey Davis is an award-winning writer. Her book "Ms. Cheevious in Hollywood - Adventures and Mishaps of an Accidental Hot Mamma" is due late 2012.
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