Parents and children have different perspectives.
This is obvious when you’re a kid, particularly a teenager, because parents just don’t understand. But it becomes even more obvious, blindingly obvious, when you become a parent. Suddenly, parental guidance isn’t just a hassle, it’s your daily responsibility!
We usually don’t want the same things that our kids do. There is some overlap: we want them to be happy, to have fun, to be healthy, and they, presumably, want those things too. But we have different definitions of those things, and different methods for achieving them.
Which means that some of the things that make us good parents also make us bad ones, in our kids’ eyes.
It requires us doing things that we don’t even want to do, but that we must do, because we’re the guardians of tiny human beings who don’t have the experience, intelligence, or awareness necessary to take care of themselves. (Never mind that some of us barely have those either.)
Here are some examples of parental guidance that makes parenting a drag, for us and them!
- Limiting Screen Time: My son turns into a monster when he’s around a screen. I want to say a zombie, which is true, but it’s more than that. He’s brain-dead while he’s playing with an iPad or watching a TV show, but he’s vicious when you tell him time’s up. “Zombie meth-head” is probably more accurate. It actually scares me how attached he gets to the iPad, how zoned in he is when he’s using it, how angry he gets when he’s deprived of it. Which makes restricting his use even more crucial. I’m no Luddite, and no parent raising kids in 2016 can pretend this stuff isn’t here to stay and won’t be even more prevalent and essential as our kids grow up, but it’s important that we find balance. Especially at my son’s age, when he clearly can’t be trusted to regulate himself. So I can live with the anger if it means we can curb the dependency. And the withdrawals.
- Requesting an Inside Voice: As if such a thing exists for kids under ten.
- Restricting Junk Food: When I was a kid, I had milk with every meal, and soda was just about verboten. My best friend, who lived next door, had soda with every meal, and junk food galore. It was amazing! And terrible. I’m pretty sure he is now a meth-head and/or a totally normal person with a family of his own in suburban Connecticut. The point is, it was wrong of his parents even if it had zero consequences, because why should other kids have more fun than me? The actual point is who cares what your kids think, cavities are expensive. And so is diabetes. And so are my Tyrrell’s potato chips, GET YOUR HANDS OFF THEM!
- Making Them Eat Dinner: I know, I’m a monster.
- Sending Them to School: My 6-year-old hates school. More precisely, he hates going to school (this may or may not have to do with the bullying situation). Once there he usually has fun, and he’s doing pretty well (as far as I can tell with a 6-year-old), but mostly he hates what he’s not able to do while he’s at school. He’d much rather stay home and play and watch TV and then get bored and complain about having nothing to do because kids are the best. He gets mad when I make him go to school, like it’s not the law or something. Besides, guess what, kid? I’d much rather stay home too! But we all have responsibilities. Besides, if you stayed home all day, Mommy would murder you. So stop whining and get your damn shoes on.
- Making Them Take Baths: You’re fucking gross, that’s why.
- Forcing Them to Finish Homework: My son is six and he already hates homework. My son is six and he already has homework! Way to turn kids off of school, school! But until homework is outlawed (one nearby school already has, god bless ’em!), it’s up to me to hold him to task. It’s not fun continually reminding a 6-year-old of his responsibilities, and it’s even less fun having to help him with homework. Especially since I’d rather be lounging on the couch with a couple of fingers and I literally have no idea how to do this newfangled math. Which is only going to get harder. Oh well, I made my bed by which I mean: have kids! It’s so rewarding!
- Making Them Brush Their Teeth: You’re fucking gross, that’s why.
- Enforcing Bedtime: My son has more energy in the thirty minutes leading up to bedtime than I’ve literally ever had, which makes getting him to bed a nightmare. Even though we’ve had the same routine for months now – dinner, reading homework, bedtime story, snuggle with Mommy, bedtime – he finds new ways to delay the inevitable. Every night. Everyone should be winding down, but he’s just gearing up. After which I need a few more fingers.
- Making Them Wear Pants: If I have to wear them, you have to wear them. This is mostly a good thing; I’m much fucking grosser than you.
- Being Strict in General: My son hates it, and often hates me, which usually means it’s working. Also my wife hates it, and often reminds me, which usually means I’ve gone too far. I’m still figuring it out. But the fact is, we’re not very strict. We don’t spoil, but I worry that we give a little too much leeway. Mom and Buried disagrees, but that’s why I’m the bad cop. And why Detective Munch calls me “Mr. Grumpy Pants,” which is a small price to pay if he grows up into a goody-two-shoes because of me. Or at least moves out. I’ll honestly take either.
Got any annoying examples of parental guidance to add? Chime in on my Facebook page!