Posted in advice

The Kids We Want

It has been a while since I have posted to this blog, but I have been busy, and coming up with good topics can be challenging.  This post is going to touch on parenting, mostly because I am a father of 5 children, both boys and girls, and step children as well as my own.  So, either I have been fairly fortunate or somethings were done right.  Because with the exception of one of my step kids, the other 4 are turning out to be ok.  Even the one step kid is bad, but we don’t really get along.

One thing I always tell other parents, is you get the kids you want.  Now that may sound ridiculous, but I am trying to say that your actions truly dictate your wants.  If you worry your child will be mad at you, and you don’t correct the behavior of the child in a way that they understand, then they will never behave the way you may say you want.  Don’t the blame the child for this, your actions in this case, tell the child that the behavior you may say is poor is actually ok.  Particularly with small children, they aren’t going to understand a well-made case of logic and reason, but isolation or a small gentle pop on the hand or backside will discourage reaching for things that may be dangerous.

Giving attention to a temper tantrum, will only tell a child that the tantrum is an acceptable way to get attention.  With my kids, a tantrum got them put in their crib or their room, and I would not talk to them until they were calm.  When they started school, if they did not behave, I would take all of their stuff away, and give them homework of my own.  When their teachers told me how good they were, I would reward with gifts or a special event, like dinner at a place of their choice.  Their mom, was always nice to them, and I was generally viewed as the mean parent.  But when I went out with my kids they behaved, when she went out with them, they were rowdy, and she would not want to go anywhere with them if I didn’t go along.  I have gone on several trips with the kids when it is just me and the kids, and no one else to help me. 

While I may be the mean parent, I feel like I have good relationship with my kids, we talk about things I never spoke with my parents about.  I never sugar coat reality with my kids, and I think it has made life easier for them in middle school and high school.  And to be honest, when I talk to other parents, it seems like they forgot what it was like when we were kids.  I had friends that got pregnant in middle school and high school, drugs were everywhere, but peer pressure was never like they showed on TV.  Most of the time it was an offer, not a social threat against your coolness.  I had friends who died in middle school and high school because of drugs and being stupid when they got behind the wheel of a car.  People who have died, since we graduated high school, or are in jail. 

Because of that, I have pulled out my yearbook and show my kids the pictures of the people who are no longer with us.  I take them up and down the different roads in my town and show them the memorials for the kids that died when I was in high school.  I make sure they know that they are not immortal, and that their decisions have consequences, and that reality doesn’t care what reasons or excuses they may have for what they did.

I wish I would not have had to be the one to destroy the illusions of the world for them, but I think if I didn’t show them the reality behind the curtain, I may have to deal with a nightmarish reality I can’t imagine.  Life is difficult as it is, but I don’t want to be the parent erecting and visiting a memorial for any of my children.  For any parent reading this that has lost a child, just know, that while I do not know how hard things are for you, you and your family are in my prayers.

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