A Thought on Parenting

I was scrolling through FB this morning and saw this article. It was posted by a girl I’m not even really friends w/ anymore, but the quote highlighted from the article grabbed my attention, and even though it was lengthy, I didn’t stop until I finished reading it. 

Holy. Cow. Shit like this is why I waver between wanting kids and not wanting them. It’s not really the kids themselves that trouble me, it’s the current condition of the world we live in. A world where a mother is almost sent to jail for running into the store and leaving her kid in the car. Happily playing on an iPad, with the doors locked, in temperate weather, no less (maybe the real offense here is how young kids are when they’re introduced and addicted to technology, but that’s a rant for another time).

This woman displayed negligent behavior? Puh-lease. My parents have one car; they’ve always shared a vehicle, and they’ll never be a two-car family. Every night growing up, my mom would bustle my sisters and I in the car to drive to my dad’s store so she could pick him up from work. We would wait in the car while she went in to let him know we were here, which would more often than not result in an after-work beer for my dad while closing things up and my sisters and I being left in the car for 10 minutes or so. You could argue that there were four of us, so we had more resources than one little boy alone in a car, but I would argue that competing with three other girls for leg room, a window seat, and what radio station to listen to was more dangerous to a child. This was a year-round, rain or shine scenario, in a neighborhood you probably wouldn’t consider kid-friendly. Yet here we are today, alive and well. Funny how that works.

There’s the standby argument from our parents and elders: the world is a different place than when they were growing up. You drove around w/ your kids standing up in the backseat, you let your kid ride a bike w/out a helmet, you let your 8-year-old take your 2-year-old to the park alone (no? was that just us?) Not that some of these things were good ideas then, but they’re certainly not a punishable offense to parents who are perhaps just trying to relish a few minutes of alone time, or avoid an argument, or worse yet, a full-blown meltdown from their kid. I’m not a parent myself, but I can imagine it would be easier to run into a store yourself, grab what you need off the shelf, and wait in line to buy your item when you’re alone than when you’re towing a temperamental kid, distracted at every aisle and whining the whole time about needing all the toys and candy in the store. 

Because parents, most parents at least, are just trying to do the best they can. To avoid the screaming and crying and yelling (that can’t be much fun for them either, I’m just taking a guess here). To protect their child at any costs. To ensure that they raise a smart, compassionate, respectful kid that will turn into a smart, compassionate respectful adult and help make the world a better place. And what kids don't need is someone holding their hand every. step. of. the. way. 

The coddling that might seem so necessary when they're six or seven or eighteen isn't going to fly when they're off to college, or on their first job interview, or trying to impress a guy/girl they really like. Because if you raise your kids right, they'll understand that when you ran into the store while locking them in the car, or answered the phone during their piano recital, or forgot the brownies for the school bake sale, you were doing the best you could. 

Don't worry, Mom, these examples were't directed at you or anything.