Parenting is hard. No one ever said it was easy but the older my four get the more challenging it becomes and the more serious the consequences of getting it wrong.
So I, like everyone else I know, am doing my best and hoping that I am not making too many mistakes or causing too many psychological problems for them in later life. A lot of the time I try to take a similar approach to the one that my parents took. That seemed to work well for me in the main. But the way my children respond to my parenting is very different to my experience.
Let’s take back chat as a good example. It is rude, prolongs arguments beyond what is necessary and suggests that the child has the upper hand. When I was a child you did it at your peril. The only people you would dare to back chat were your siblings. Not your parents or other people’s parents or, heaven forbid, teachers. Back chat wasn’t tolerated at home. I just wasn’t allowed to do it and that was that. And my children aren’t allowed either. But they do. Every day. Each time they answer me back I pick them up on it just like my parents would have done but it makes not a jot of difference. I just can’t seem to make them understand how totally inappropriate it is.
Today my eldest lost her shoes. She left them behind after PE and when she went back they were gone.If I had lost my school shoes my world would have come to an abrupt end. Her defence was that she needed some new ones anyway so what was my problem? She’s right – she does. But surely that isn’t the point? And despite my best endeavour to explain to her that losing shoes was unacceptable, she just didn’t get it.
My conclusions? Maybe it’s not the way that I am parenting but the external influences that are causing the problems. The television is full of people giving back chat. ” Whatever!” is a national catchphrase. Whereas when I was a child Grange Hill was a bit edgy but only on once a week, my children are bombarded by images of children kicking against authority all the time. Even the Disney channel serves up a regular helping of stroppy pre-teens. And the shoes? Well generally the message seems to be if it’s broken or lost just buy a new one.
So perhaps I am fighting a losing battle. It certainly feels that way. But I can’t give up. Surely, the children will get the hang of it eventually and start behaving as I would like if only to smooth their passage through domestic life. And if the shoes are lost she did need some new ones so why get aerated about it? Nobody else’s parents do apparently – just me! Perhaps if my kids ever have children of their own they will see what it was that I was trying to do and appreciate it. Time will tell.