Recently, it seems like everyone in my circle of mommy friends is having issues with their preteen/teen. Suspensions from school, inappropriate behavior, sassy mouthing, etc. We are all completely out of advice for one another. If you clicked here looking for answers on how to be “the perfect parent” and appropriately handle your out-of-control child, this is not the post. However, I do have some great insight to share.
While discussing our children’s behavior, I realized we all have that one parent within our extended circle whose child NEVER does any wrong. How strange is that? If you are like me you’re probably wondering what’s her secret. Unfortunately, she hasn’t shared it yet. Which got me to thinking… is there such thing as the perfect parent? The perfect child? Or the perfect myth?
The first time a principal called me to discuss the “inappropriate behaviors” of my child, I immediately became defensive thinking there was no way my kid could be the person she was describing. Being a single mother, statistics say children are at an increased risk of gang participation, violence, teenage pregnancy, high school drop-out, and so on and so forth. It has always been my mission to equip my child with whatever possible to beat these odds, providing him with all the support necessary to be a respectful, honorable, member of society. He lacks for nothing and is loved and involved with both sides of his family.
Although I and our support system did a lot of things right, I/we also did a lot of things wrong. I parented in a manner which I now call guilt parenting. It’s where you take on the burden of trying to fulfill the void of the absent parent by giving your child everything they want because you do not want them to feel inadequate. This also includes becoming defensive with anyone who gives advice on how to be a parent or makes you aware of negative behaviors your child is displaying.
The Real Truth
It wasn’t until I heard the advice of veteran parents, my pastors, and attended a group family therapy that I realized the behaviors of our children does not necessarily reflect the way they are taught. I also learned that children in two parent households were displaying the same behaviors my child was displaying. What a silent sigh of relief!!
But the fact still remained, I was raising my child in this guilt parenting method mindset and I wasn’t teaching him how to earn what he wanted, how to treat others with respect, or how to develop empathy towards the needs and concerns of others. He was developing an entitlement attitude and I was covering up for him by pretending he was perfect.
I believe the worst thing we can do as parents is cripple our children’s success by pretending they don’t have flaws. Parents should be able to share their experiences without conviction so they know they are not alone.