Real Parenting: The Cold Hard Truth
You haven’t fully experienced life to its fullest until you’ve been a parent. It’s an experience that we as human beings struggle with on a daily basis despite having done it for thousands of years. Writers publish books, teachers hold parenting classes, experienced nannies appear on television shows…yet everyone seems to have a different opinion. It’s funny how many opinions are the “correct ones” when they involve YOUR kids.
Being a parent means you’ve inherited the responsibility of caring for a child. It means that your priorities have changed. It means that you are one hundred percent responsible for preparing him or her for the challenges that they may face in their lifetime. As I’ve mentioned already, people have attempted their hand at parenting for thousands of years and we still haven’t figured out THE best way to parent a child. Being a parent means you have your work cut out for you.
Accepting the responsibility of being a parent is a large first step which many people don’t even make. Being a parent requires that your own responsibilities are in order. The day you can look yourself in the mirror and confidently say, “I get it, I know who I am and what I need to do” is the day you can truly start being a parent. How can you teach someone, raise someone, to respect him or herself if you cannot even respect yourself? How can you teach him or her proper life values when you yourself don’t know what those values are?
I’m not perfect. People aren’t perfect. Parents aren’t perfect. So how do you ensure that your child will grow up and be ready for the cold harsh reality that is life? You can’t…not really…but you can prepare them by teaching them good moral values, respect, and all the life lessons that come with surviving in a world filled with corrupt, selfish, and uncompassionate people.
Without going into my personal history, I will simply say that I’ve made mistakes I’m not proud of. For the record, my son is NOT one of those mistakes. Being thirty I can safely say I know a lot more then than I did at twenty, the age when I became a parent. I know who I am now and what I am capable of. I know what I want and what is right and wrong. Being human I don’t always get it right, but I’m self-aware more so than I was ten years ago. Not everyone can claim this feat and they too, have children. If you’ve ever ventured outside, you’ve probably run into kids that have zero respect for anyone around them. On a daily basis I walk the streets of downtown Pittsburgh wondering how some of these kids will even survive when they reach the age that they need to work and make an honest living. The sad truth is that some of them never even reach their true potential and tap into unique talents that they may possess. And you know what? Ninety-nine point nine nine percent of the time it’s not their fault. Being a parent means you encourage your child to reach their potential and to explore their talents.
Your kid could be the next Mozart, Beethoven, or Schroeder.
Kids will act out. Kids will defy you. Kids will do some pretty stupid things. The older they get, the larger the scope of mistakes that they make. Being a parent means that as angry as they may make you, that you must continue to support them and help them grow. Just because your child is in their late teens, do not assume they are old enough to know what to do and how to act. At twenty, I didn’t. If anything, parental support at this age is essential to preparing them for being an adult. I’ve seen many teenagers do incredibly inappropriate things in public to the point where I wonder where their parents are and I always come to the same conclusion, “nowhere.”
Am I claiming to have all the answers? No. Am I claiming to be a perfect parent? Pffft…no. There’s a lot I still don’t know. My son is only ten years old; I have a lot more to learn and a lot more growing to do. Working full-time and doing my best to be a father is a lot of work, but I’m at the point where I can go to bed each night and take comfort that my son is on the correct path because of the difference I am making in his life. When he needs to talk, he knows I am there for him. He knows his please and thank yous and understands respect to some degree, but being a typical ten-year old he often forgets. He knows that homework is done every day after school before he even considers touching a video game. He knows that there are rules and consequences for breaking those rules. He knows that his father will always be there for him and never abandon him for anything, or anyone else. He is my priority now. That’s what a parent…a REAL parent…does.
A real parent understands priorities and how their children come first, no matter how badly you may want something. A real parent finds a somewhat manageable balance between work and home; a balance between managing their personal responsibilities and the responsibilities that come with raising children. A real parent doesn’t always succeed. A real parent sometimes forgets. A real parent is only human. A real parent however, stays true to their children in the end and does everything they can to make sure that they succeed. Real parents worry about their children no matter how old they are. Real parents take an interest in their children’s activities even when said children are adults.
Real parents also tell their kids to pull their pants up.
Are you a real parent? If not, it is imperative you step up and become one. No one knows your child better than you. No one is more qualified to raise your own child than you. People may put their nose into business that is not theirs and tell you how you’re doing it wrong. If your child is loved, healthy, provided for, and being educated then you can tell them exactly where they can go. Every child is different with their own quirks and personalities so what may work with one child may not work with the next. A real parent adapts. A real parent separates the good advice from the bad and adapts the ideas into practical use.
Children come into this world totally dependent on you and the example you set for them. Do them a favor…Accept the cold hard truth, step up, and be a real parent.