According to them, I’m too strict. My expectations are too high. I make my kids do too much.
Frankly, because I’m completely naive and permanently gullible, this surprised me. It didn’t occur to me that people I was related to were judging my parenting. I thought that was reserved for the moms on the playground and the after school pick up line. Especially that one mom with the overly teased hair and peek-a-boo thong who seems to be giving me the side-eye every time I show up at school in slippers and a death metal sweatshirt.
My kids are well mannered, well behaved, well adjusted little peoples who not only excel academically and socially but in sports as well. They are well-rounded individuals who are well liked amongst their peer set and the adults they are surrounded with on a daily basis. It’s not like my kids are deviant punks who rebel against society.
Not that my kids are perfect, far from it. They’re kids. They annoy me regularly. They break the rules. They get in trouble. They act like perfectly adjusted, typical kids ought to.
I thought I was doing a pretty bang up job with them to be honest. Which is a small miracle really, since I’m mostly left to my own devices with them and I tend to have a twisted and skewed vision of what life should be like. (Think unicorns on rollerblades under rainbow-laden skies as a chorus of angels sings the words to the newest Nickelback song.)
None of this matters to those who judge me. It turns out; they feel my kids are expected to do too much. Teenagers should be allowed to be teens and not expected to help clean up the messes they make, help pitch in to take care of their disabled brother and shouldn’t be held accountable for when they mouth off.
Whoa. If that’s the world everyone else is raising their children in, I don’t want a free pass into it.
From an early age, my husband and I have instituted a routine of chores my children are required to do. It’s not like we’re using them for free slave labour. At least not yet. I’m saving that for when they’re legal adults and refusing to get a real job or a post-secondary education.
The thing is, my kids have always risen to the occasion. Whether it’s helping change a diaper for their little brother, put him in the bathtub or wipe the counters after we eat a meal, my kids don’t bat an eye at this.
They know that being part of a family means helping everyone out, including Mom and Dad sometimes. They know that they have to take care of their homework and they know that the garbage isn’t going to take itself out.
My kids aren’t scared of a little hard work, as much as they will whine and moan about it. They’re kids. They’re supposed to whine about hard work. Most adults still do.
Our kids know that extra curricular activities are earned. They are a privilege not a right. They know that being part of a family means sometimes putting other people’s needs or wishes first because that’s what families do.
And sometimes it means folding the big basket of socks while Mom bakes a pie.
Our kids don’t miss out on anything because we’ve asked them to be a working member of our family. They don’t resent it either because they know they are the priority for their father and I. Hopefully, the example their father and I are setting will be carried with them always when they themselves become parents.
So I don’t mind if people think I’m too strict with my kids because I won’t allow them to have a television in their room or a cell phone just yet. I don’t mind if people think I’m asking my kids to do too much by helping out with their brother or the housework.
Judge away. Maybe I am expecting too much from my kids.
But maybe you are not expecting enough from yours.