I’m not one to mince words or make excuses. I never have been, and that didn’t change when I became a parent.
This is why I often find it irritating to hear all the ways parents try to avoid blaming their kids for bad behavior. This is aside from the fact that most other parents, and other parents’ children, are irritating to begin with! (No offense, fellow parents. I barely like myself when I’m parenting. It’s not really a good look on anyone.)
Sure, we all make excuses for our kids from time to time, and some of them are warranted – even necessary. Kids are kids. I’m 40, and not only do I struggle to contain my emotions half the time (especially while watching football or when my 5-year-old wakes me up at 2 a.m. by jumping onto my crotch), I also barely know what I’m doing half the time. I certainly don’t expect my children to have a handle on themselves.
But that doesn’t mean they get a pass. That doesn’t mean that every time they misbehave it needs to be rationalized.
When my 5-year-old acts out, I’m perfectly content with calling him on it. Kids are brats sometimes. It’s a fact of life, and one that many parents used to recognize.
How often do you hear some mom refer to her kid as “strong-willed” or “defiant” or “spirited”? Those are all code words for “my kid is an asshole” and “I am at a loss here.” I’m not blaming anyone’s parenting; I have no idea why your kid is running around like the Tasmanian Devil, refusing to heed your call, repeatedly yanking toys out of other kids’ hands, and screaming for no reason. I don’t live in your house.
Maybe he watches too much Looney Tunes. Maybe you don’t give him enough structure and/or affection. Maybe he’s born with it. Maybe it’s too much Yellow 5 dye. Maybe it’s Maybelline! Who the eff knows?
I barely have control of my own life, let alone my kids’ lives, so I don’t judge. Not every kid is an angel, and parents aren’t always to blame for that. But for the love of God, stop pretending your kid isn’t a nightmare sometimes. He’s not ‘spirited’; he’s possessed. He’s not ‘strong-willed’; he’s gonna be out of the will. He’s not ‘defiant’; he’s a straight-up dick.
Don’t say those things to his face, of course, but don’t worry about saying them to me. In fact, I want you to say them to me because I’m sure as shit going to say something similar to you!
Who would you rather hang out with? A parent whose children can do no wrong, who finds an excuse for every misstep their miscreant makes, who never admits they’re at their wit’s end? Or the parent who occasionally swears under their breath at the little punk, who concedes that they sometimes can’t stand the kid, who apologizes for his behavior with a defeated shrug and admits, “He’s an asshole, sometimes.”
Why are we so afraid to talk shit about our kids? Do you know any adults who are perfect? I don’t — least of all me. Why should I expect a miniature version of myself, with less life experience, limited empathy, and a still-developing emotional IQ to be any better?
The sooner you realize your kids are brats sometimes – that your kids are just as flawed as every other member of the human race! – the better off you’ll be, and the sooner you flip your kids off behind their back while calling them soul-crushing life-destroyers, the sooner we’ll be friends, sitting at a bar together, clinking glasses, and laughing about the latest obnoxious thing our obnoxious kids have done.
Come, join me on Realism Island, where we acknowledge that our kids can be pains in the ass and we stop pretending their bad behavior is a delightful personality quirk! The bar’s open.
This post originally ran on Scary Mommy.