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I was sweeping my house today. Since it is not the most mind-bending of tasks I got to thinking. I started thinking about me as a parent and how I got to be here. OK. I know HOW I got to be a parent, but the kind of parent that I am.
Then I started wondering what makes any of us the kind of parents that we are. When I am out with my friends who are also parents we talk about parenty stuff. It seems that long runs lend themselves to certain parenting confessions.
Like, yeah, I let my kid sleep in my bed. I gave my kids cereal for dinner last night. My kids know SpongeBob’s middle name. Then I think about how my parents parented. I did not watch TV while eating -- ever.
OK, except for the one time when dinner started late and I was going to miss the Donny and Marie Show and I started crying, then parents let me watch. But I remember them being dumbfounded by my tears. I don’t even remember what my parent’s bedroom looked like. And I ate everything on my plate even if it meant swallowing it whole with a big gulp of milk.
I thought my parents were mean. They were super strict and super driven and they drove me right into college. Which turned out to be a good thing. But now, as a parent I look back on those torturous moments late at night afraid to get up to go potty because the things under the bed might get me. And how I wouldn’t even consider going to my parents‘ room. I have a kid who is not afraid to get out of bed, but will come running down the hall in fear and climb into my bed and stay there all night with his feet in my back and his head on my husbands pillow. I have a kid (same one, by the way) that eats only foods that are tan. Luckily zucchini bread is kind of tan.
I think I am a lazy parent. I know that parenting the way my parents did would have required a lot more backbone than I seem to have. It would have required me to be able to tune out crying and whining and never give in. The thing is, I wanted a relationship with my kids. I do NOT want to be friends with them, but I want them to know they are loved and cherished. I teach kids that I have a feeling have really awesome parents. They seem to have a good relationship with their parents and they are still really great kids. I also teach kids that I think are friends with their parents.
Those kids are harder to deal with. Because I know that if they are misbehaving that I do not have parental support. That the parents’ side with their friend-kid. Then I teach those kids that have the fear of death parents. They are afraid to get an A-. They behave at all times. They are super easy to teach, but not the happiest kid and have little or no relationship with their parents.
But do they need that? Do kids need to have a great relationship with their parents? Maybe that is something that can come later. Maybe it is important. I am glad that my teen can talk to me. I am glad that we can fight and I know his world will not come to end because of it. I am glad that I can actually occasionally enjoy his company and hear about his life. That is a relationship. It is not equal by any means because as his parents we still call most of the shots and often we work hard to ruin his life. But did I get here because I let him sleep in my bed and have cereal for dinner? Is it because I let him watch Pokémon until I puked? Is it because I let him make some of his own choices- no matter how bad they were? I do not know. But I know that for certain I have a relationship with my kid. But, I do not know if my lazy parenting has made him a lazy kid. I guess I still have a few years and at least I have a few more kids that I can practice on.
Los Alamos columnist