Yesterday, my normally ‘good’ child gave me a glimpse of what we could expect in his teenage years. He was surly and rude and quite frankly, no bum klap or timeout was working. I eventually resorted to banning his TV time for 3 nights (yes, shit escalated).
Now, any parent worth their salt understands that a ban on TV time is actually harder for the adults. Our Netflix gets switched on so fast an hour before bed that sometimes magicians blink twice. I use the time to cook dinner, catchup on emails or just hit my head repeatedly against a door if I’ve had a particularly trying day.
Yes, folks. I both smack my kids and let them watch television. Sometimes I even give them S U G A R
Anyways. After a half an hour of slamming doors (him, not me), a few glasses of wine (me, not him) he came out to apologise. We chatted and hugged and made up and that was that. Until 5 minutes later he asked if he was therefore allowed to watch TV before bed. To which I had to tell him, ‘no’.
The poor kid was devastated – he could not understand why, when we were big buddies again and all was forgotten, that he was still punished. And this is when I had to stand resolute in my shaky parenting skills and explain to him that in order for him to understand what he did, and to respect me, I had to follow through with his punishment. He actually took it like a champ and that night, instead of Noddy or what every drivel the animators are churning out these days, he sat and chatted to a friend who was over for dinner, drew pictures and read books.
Now, before you go thinking this is all about me giving parenting lessons (I mean, why would you, I drink on the job and use TV time to browse Instagram) I did have a long hard think about this, and other ‘Raising children conundrums’ that have been bugging me.
I’m pretty certain we all know where I stand on the whole ‘girls are princesses, boys are princes’ thing, so I’ll move on. But the whole cutesy naming of our gendered children has also led to another growing concern – WE, yes, us as parents – are letting hem get away with absolute murder.
Remember my whole ‘don’t make vegetables‘ the enemy’ speech? This is kind of like that, except replace the word vegetables with ‘discipline’.
Now, public disclaimer, this is not applicable to everyone, but some millennials in the work place walk around as if the CEO position is owed to them next month, they watch the clock like hawks, insist on the full 60 minute lunch break and their work ethic is pretty much down there with anyone in home affairs.
Guys, I do not want my children growing up like that. I want to instil some sort of ethic into my kids that turns them into smart, go-getting young adults. This in turn will hopefully ensure that when they enter the big bad world of adulting and work, they do not get turned out like dirty soapy bath water wondering where their participation medal is. Because it is going to happen. One day our kids will be doing things for themselves (collective gasp) and we need to give them the right footing to let them get there.
I am so tired of watching parents place the blame on teachers and peers instead of actually putting in the hard work themselves. Parents, your little girls are capable human beings. They are not delicate flowers who will break if scolded or given chores. Please don’t let them be purposefully soft (all the time). It is a hard hard world and we need to encourage them to stand up, use their voices, make rules and change the game. Let them ask questions and eat sand and build train sets. Encourage them to get messy, run wild, explore the world and be bold. Let them wear camo, high five their successes and dance around in tiaras. And then your sons, they should be allowed to cry, they are allowed to hurt and be sad and have feelings. Let them paint their nails neon pink or buy barbie dolls. Let them also climb trees and run barefoot and hit a golf ball high into the sky. Let your girls do all this as well. Let them break the invisible boundaries of ‘he vs. she’
I have no idea what I’m doing as a parent. None. My kids vaccines are always late, my four year old has only just started seeing a dentist and sometimes dinner is scrambled egg on stale toast. But what I am trying to be better at, is treating my children the same. What’s good for the Goose must absolutely be good for the gander.
Manners. Eye Contact. A firm handshake. A clear voice. Respect. Kindness. Empathy. Interest in others. Social skills. A broad smile. These are not pink or blue traits. They are human traits.
Please, I implore you. Before all the good teachers have given up, before society has turned everything into a participation award and before everything becomes soft and bland, let’s take ownership over raising people who other people want to hang out with.