I watch the news. I listen to other parents talk. I read articles and books.
Wow. There certainly are some confused people out there. Especially when it comes to parenting philosophies.
I am amazed at how often I see, hear, or read about people who think all it takes to be a good parent is a car to whisk kids from activity to activity, money to buy lots of games and toys, and a day camp to keep the kids busy the rest of the time.
As if it were that easy.
They might as well hire a nanny and stop pretending they’re putting in the time that’s needed to bond with their child.
Because rushing around from activity to activity to keep kids busy is not what parenting is about. That is attempting to parent by auto-pilot, and it doesn’t work well.
Sure, it will probably work just fine while the kids are little. But as soon as the little ones become big ones the burner gets turned up under the kettle and trouble starts brewing.
Ever seen an angry teenager?
Kids getting a clue is inevitable once they learn math. They soon figure out just how small that percentage of time is that the parent is spending, really spending, with them.
Auto-pilot parents appear to spend time with their kids, good parents really do it. I’m talking here about a great quantity of time. That old myth about quality time is just that, a myth.
So just to be clear I’ll lay it out for all to read.
Good parenting is about sacrifices, big and small.
It’s about an hour spent shuffling through news articles–even though you have a hard deadline on a project due the next day–so a freaked out fifth grader will be able to complete her homework assignment.
It’s about hours spent in the emergency room watching, just watching, each painful breath of an asthmatic child.
It’s about attending every teacher conference, concert, and talent show, even if it means rescheduling that important meeting.
It’s about watching television with your children and labeling bad behavior as bad, unnecessary, and sometimes silly.
It’s about asking questions about each child’s day, and not taking “Fine,” as an answer.
It’s about listening, really listening. Then taking the time to have a real conversation about what you heard.
It’s about recognizing that children are not perfect and will require discipline.
It’s about not always being on the child’s side. Sometimes the child IS in the wrong and it is a parent’s job to correct bad behavior.
It’s about not trying to be your child’s friend.
It’s about being a parent. That rock on which children can build their lives. The giver of guidance and receiver of confidences. The person that can be relied upon in times of trouble.
It takes time to build that kind of trust.
Lots and lots of time.