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The Pains of Modern Parenthood

When I was a kid things were so much simpler…yeh, it sounds like a cliche, but it isn’t…it was simpler, in so many ways.

Just to give you some perspective I am a Father of three, and a Grandfather of soon to be five (my Son, who will be 30 this year, has been very active in providing me with Grandchildren – gratefully with the same woman, and not multiple choice 😀 ). My two Daughters are still pre-teens and are at home with me. I’ve raised them by myself ( as a Single Daddy ) since they were both still in diapers.

Compared to my parents I would be considered a very liberal-minded Dad. Possibly too liberal-minded. I’ve never been the goo-goo ga-ga type of Dad, I’ve always spoke to my children the same way I would speak to anyone else, even as infants I would talk to them, as though following Plato’s rule of thumb that whatever goes into a child’s mind is ought to prove indellible and unalterable. The brain is a sponge, and soaks up everything around it, even if the brain doesn’t yet understand what it is taking in, it still takes it in.

And I’ve always encouraged social behavior ( interaction ). As they were growing up, as an example, I would encourage hugging. And they hugged everything, friends, teachers, dogs, cats, and the odd totally mystified stranger we came across. I’ve always been the type of person who would say ‘ Hello ‘ to a complete strangers as we pass on the street. I figured something as simple as hugging would avoid the later scared/suspicious aloofness that most people fall into as they pass from childhood to adulthood.

I’m also a sucker for letting things go. When they would do something wrong when they were younger I would try to explain to them what they did wrong and why it was wrong. On very rare occasions I would be stern about it, and on even rarer occasions give them a pat on the behind ( and not the type of pat my mother would give me when I did something wrong ). Now, as they are older, I still try to explain to them what they did wrong, and why it was wrong. And although I do lecture them more often in a more stern voice they are very rarely punished for anything. On the occasions I have grounded them, or gave them extra chores ( etc ) I usually let them off the hook fairly easy. On extremely rare occasions when things are completely out-of-hand instead of a pat on the behind ( as they are, in my opinion too old, for that ) I would tap them on the head. Now…before all the politically correct Dr. Spock gurus and fanatics start telling me how horrible that is…I’m not talking about tapping in the sense of hurting, but the same type of tap you might give to a dog you love that just pooped on your new carpet. A ‘ don’t do that ‘ kind of tap.

And it’s not because I subscribe to the hands-off philosophy of our politically-correct era, that I’ve avoided physical punishment, in the sense I experienced as a kid. Because I don’t. I don’t think my Mother was wrong to wail on my behind when I did something wrong. She was a sweet, gentle woman, who believed if you did something wrong you should know you did something wrong. She was not abusive in the least. And I am more horrified that she would be considered abusive by today’s standards, than any punishment she gave me.

And I’m not angry at the teachers or school principal who strapped me as a kid. I have no animosity toward them at all. I was a handful to contend with. I’m sure they loved their families, hugged their kids, and were decent people.

So, no, I don’t subscribe to the notion that parents, teachers, ( etc ) of my generation were abusive individuals. Sure there were some who crossed the line, as some cross the line today, and will tomorrow. There is a difference between discipline and abuse. And we should understand as a society that we are going from one extreme to another, from physical discipline to no physical discipline. Why? Because of those who crossed the line.

My own children are growing up to be very independent citizens. Which is both a blessing and a curse. A blessing in that that was what I wanted, what I strived for. A curse in that they ( one daughter in particular ) argues with me about everything. Something i wouldn’t even think of doing with my parents. In my day you either did what they said, or you didn’t, there was no arguing, no compromise, no let’s make a deal. At times it’s almost surreal the stuff that comes out of her mouth when we’re arguing ( in my mind I’m thinking, at the time, if I ever said that to my Father he’d kick my ass 😀 ).

Ah, the joys and the tribulations of being a modern-day parent…would I go though it all over again from the beginning? You bet I would. Because there’s nothing more important to me than my children. They are the one true joy in my life that I could never live without.

A blessing, even during those times when it doesn’t feel so much like a blessing.

2 Responses to The Pains of Modern Parenthood

  1. mom of many July 16, 2011 at 12:25 am

    my parents were much the same as yours and my parenting sounds the same as yours but my parents now think i might be a little hard on the kids if we do get into a fight and i ground them from tv. do you find your parents have turned into mush like mine. and does your son think your parenting is more relaxed with there being a big gap in time from when you raised him and your daughters. and how you react to your grandchildren.
    the comment about “Because I said so” lol so funny i wish that worked on mine and he who pays the bills makes the rules is my favorite thing to say when they ask why

  2. Butterose September 17, 2010 at 4:39 pm

    I have step-children, none of my own. Which is probably a good thing since I would have raised them the same way my parents raised me, without the spankings. I was seen and not heard, and the phrase “Because I said so” was all the reason I was allowed to need.

    Hubby’s kids enjoyed coming to my house even though they had to live by my rules. I explained fully why I established rules and what to expect if they were broken. My house was never a democracy. The only time they weren’t around on weekends was the 2 week suspension I gave them for having a popcorn and Mountain Dew fight in my living room.

    Now the parenting shoe is on the other foot and I’m proud to say Youngest uses my methods on his kids much more than he uses those of his own parents. He was having one of those “He who pays the bills makes the rules” arguments with his daughter. She didn’t think it was fair and said so. He told her life wasn’t fair, get used to it and grounded her for a week. She opened her mouth and he interrupted her by asking if she wanted another week added? She ended up grounded for a month, but never did it again.

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