Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Got Your Blinders On?

I imagine that the most difficult thing about being a parent is acknowledging the shortcomings of our children.  Let’s face it.  Nobody is perfect and your little darling and my little angel are not exceptions to that rule.  Sooner or later we are all going to have to face the fact that sometimes our kid is the problem.  I know that seems like it is impossible, but let’s get real here.   If you here from three different teachers or other parents that your kid is obnoxious or a trouble maker, than chances are it is true.  It isn’t that these people are out to get you or your kid.  They are just sick of dealing with your brat and as his/her parent it is your responsibility to do something about their behavior.  To do otherwise is to do them a disservice. 

For instance, I know of a kid that was horribly spoiled and never disciplined as he was growing up.  Whenever he got into trouble at school his parents always assumed that it was the teachers fault because their little darling could never do anything wrong.  So, for 17-18 years he was basically allowed to do whatever he wanted and he would get away with it.  His parents had absolutely no expectations of him, so he never learned to take responsibility for his actions.  He never did homework because his parents never made him, so he never graduated highschool.  He was a major bully and beat up other kids and nothing was done about it.  I honestly think his parents thought that was cute.   I don’t remember all the other things the jerky kid did, but I remember that he stole from my mom at one point.  Well, since he never learned his lesson as a youngster, he continued these behaviors as a young adult and eventually landed himself in jail.  I am certain that had this guy learned that there would be consequences for his actions that he could have made something of himself, but he didn’t. 

Sure, his case may be extreme, but it all could have been avoided because the warning signs were clearly there.  I remember hearing multiple people, including teachers and family members, telling this kids parents to do something, but like so many other parents they couldn’t believe that their son was the problem.  He was obviously provoked or something.  Bologna!  Your kid was a jerk because he was never forced to behave differently.  I am not saying that the parents are to blame for everything the kid did because he obviously made a conscious decision to act that way, but his parents could have held him accountable as a youngster for his poor behavior.  That might have helped.  I mean, after all they were warned by multiple people.

You know, it pains me to say this, but sometimes the teachers are right.  They certainly were in that kids case.  I mean even they can’t be wrong every time, so chances are if they are having a problem with your kid or see a problem with him/her then something needs to be done, and that something needs to be done by the parents that doesn’t involve them blaming the teacher.  For one thing, that really isn’t fair.  These people are stuck in a room with 30 or more little rugrats so you can’t really expect them to put a lot of extra effort into forming a decent understanding relationship with your kid.  That isn’t their job, and even if they really want to do that they just don’t have the time or energy for that, and I’ll tell you a secret.  Your kid just isn’t that special.  Why should they get any kind of extra attention from anybody?  Sure, you may think that they may deserve it, but let it come from you because, let me tell you this, no one else in this world is going to give a crap about them. 

For another thing, your perfect little angel might really be a little jerk at school.  You are just going to have to accept that.  I have seen and heard so many parents defend their worthless kids that it is ridiculous!   Yeah, I agree that you have to go to bat for your kids, but you also have to be willing to discipline them when they need it.  If your kid is flunking classes because they aren’t doing their homework it isn’t because they aren’t being challenged or the teacher doesn’t understand them or whatever other lame excuse you can come up with.  It is because your kid is lazy and you need to make them do their homework.  It isn’t the teacher’s responsibility to make them do the work it is the parent’s.  It is the teacher’s responsibility to teach and keep your kid safe while he/she is in their care, nothing else.  If your kid doesn’t want to put the effort in then that is their problem and yours not the teacher’s.

One of the things that I have noticed about many parents who have bratty kids is their overall quickness to blame everyone but themselves and their children for anything  and everything that goes wrong in their kid’s life.  For example, one of the high-schoolers I know came home with a note saying he was disruptive in class.  What do you think his mom said?  Well, her response was to say that the teacher was an idiot and out to get her kid.  That doesn’t make sense.  When I was little if a teacher told my parents I was disruptive in class there was going to be some big trouble when I got home.  My mom sure as heck wouldn’t be blaming my teacher for my bad behavior or saying anything bad about the teacher in front of me.   Where is the sense in that?  Sure, the teacher probably really is an idiot because most of them are, but as a parent you are doing your child a disservice by attacking the teacher.  Don’t you think that it would be a good thing for your kid to have to deal with the consequences of their actions?  They are going to have to sooner or later anyway.  They are also going to have to learn to deal with people that they don’t like and vice versa throughout their entire lives.

The real question is how many teachers are going to have to have a problem with your kid before you finally acknowledge that your kid is at fault?  Yeah, I bet it sucks to have a bratty kid, but at least once you acknowledge it you can work on it.  I just hope that when you realize your mistake it isn’t too late to fix it because later on when your kid gets a job their boss, unlike their old teachers, won’t have to put up with them being slackers and jerks.  What are you going to do then?  How long are you going to be able to bail out your kid from every disaster that they bring on to themselves?  You can’t live forever and hopefully we all outlive our children by a good many years.

I am just glad that I have had the opportunity to talk with so many other parents who have had these sorts of problems because it gives me some real foresight.  Whether they know it or not, they are teaching me some valuable lessons.  Sure, no one wants to hear that their kid is a problem, but sometimes it is the truth.  The sooner you can get on top of the issue the better.  How do you deal with it though?  I don’t know, but I am going to try a few different things.  

First, I am going to try my darndest to make my kid work for things.  I firmly believe that the first problem that a lot of these kids have is that they expect everything to be given to them because they have never had to work for anything.  Then, I am going to have some real expectations of my kid.  That means I am going to have to lead by example here.  I think a lot of parents have failed to teach their children to be respectful of others and be decent people because they don’t show respect.  I also want my kid to be helpful and giving without expecting anything in return.  No, that doesn’t mean I am going to turn him into a floor mat.  It simply means that I want him be able to help people who need it because eventually he will need help too.  I guess I am trying to say that I am going to teach him the good ole’ golden rule.  

Lastly, I really want to hold my boy accountable for his actions or lack of actions.  So many people fail to realize that there are some real consequences of their actions, and I don’t want my boy to be one of them.  If he doesn’t do his homework, then rather than fight with his teacher about it I am going to make sure that he gets it done regardless of whether or not it is too late for it to make a difference.  If he flunks out of a class he is just going to have to take the class over again.  I am not going to go screaming at his teach because my kid didn't do his job as a student.  It isn’t the teacher’s fault that my kid is failing his/her class.  I sure as hell will never talk badly about any of kids teachers in front of him.  What good does that do?  None, but it sure teaches the kid to be disrespectful.  

I hope that no one gets the wrong idea and thinks that I am not willing to stick up for my kid because that simply isn't true.  But, I am unwilling to fail as a parent even if that means I will have to recognize my child's faults. Yes, I know that that will hurt, but it needs to be done.  I also realize that raising my son to be a decent, respectable person is easy in theory, but difficult in practice.  That is precisely why I have developed a game plan already.  You know, the best thing about a game plan is that it can be changed during the game.  I just hope I will recognize the time when it needs to be adapted.  Hopefully, everything works out, but if it doesn't I’ll just have to keep trying.  I have heard from a few people that the job of being a parent never ends.  It isn’t something you can retire from, and I believe that.       

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