Wednesday Wonderings : Parenting- The good. The bad. And the step.

Lonnie and I did lots of driving and talking over our long weekend getaway. One of our topics was parenting. We started by musing about “good parents” and “bad parents” and how people who achieve the most success in life so often seem to come from bad childhoods. It almost seems like hands-off parents (for whatever reason…self-involved, substance use, emotional issues, hyper career-focused, etc.) build children with greater resiliency and ability to overcome adversity. So what does that mean!? We didn’t figure it out.

 

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LOL, He’s actually just focused on driving, but if the pic fits…….

 

We discuss parenting a lot. Probably because we have never, and will never, raise a baby of our own and therefore never worked through the trials and tribulations of co-parenting as equals. I think equality is the main difference between step-parenting and raising a child together as biological or adoptive parents. No matter what your “arrangement” is, or what you PRETEND it is, one of you is “the real parent” who holds the power. It’s a rare person who can come into that scenario and put their ego aside for the greater good of the family. Lonnie comes very, very close. And I work hard to make sure he knows I value his input and opinion when it comes to decisions about the kids. BUT, while it is never really said out loud, we both know at the end of the day, they are my and my ex’s kids and we have all the decision power. Because Lonnie and I are humans, that does cause us some “issues” (pronounced isss-YOUsssss) from time-to-time.

I am fairly certain I would suck as a step-parent and when I divorced, I vowed not to enter into a step-parenting situation. It would be so hard to have no true parenting power coupled with the awareness that everyone involved, including the kids, knows it. There is no built-in bond like there is between a parent and child; so that bond has to be painstakingly cultivated while at the same time establishing a sense of order in the home.  Not everyone is willing, or able, to create that tenuous balance. In fact, I would even bet MOST people aren’t able to make it happen because there are so many emotions and factors at play. There’s a reason “You’re not my dad!” has legendary meme status!

So, what is the answer to harmonious step-parenting? Well, we DID figure this one out!! There is no answer because there is NO SUCH THING! Humans are built to interact and have conflicts and “issues” and power struggles and trials and tribulations and “discussions” and ARGUMENTS! AND ALL of these seemingly negative interactions are actually positive because they are how we learn from each other to grow as people and enrich our relationships.

Have you mastered step-parenting? Failed epically? Kinda-sorta got the hang of it? Think I am way off base with anything here? I love a good discussion… argument… power struggle….

Parenting: We’re doing it wrong

20170703_141203I cannot recall my mother ever telling me or my brothers what to do with ourselves during our summer vacation; especially not at age 15. My mother never made me a daily list of things to do. She never required proof they had been done.  Hell… she never even knew where we WERE most of the time, And we all turned out JUST FINE!

Yet somehow, as I sit here watching my son clock in another hour of ps4, I feel guilty, like somehow it’s MY fault that he is wasting his summer.

Why has my generation of parents decided that it’s our job to make sure our children’s lives are a never-ending amusement park of memories? Why do we now label parents as bad or lazy if they are actually letting their kids figure shit out on their own?  Every time something negative happens that involves a kid, the world swiftly responds with, “WELL WHERE WERE THE PARENTS!?” We have completely absolved our children from any sense of responsibility, autonomy, or morality, and yet expect them to magically become responsible, autonomous, moral adults when they turn 18. When I was growing up, summertime was me out and about in the neighborhood learning life lessons until the street lights came on. If I did something wrong (and I certainly did!), blame wasn’t placed on my mother, it was placed on me; where it belonged!

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“My Summer Vacation” by Sean J

In truth, WE are the bad parents. We have created children that have no idea what to do with themselves when left to their own devices. We are creating kids that leave home at 18…19….29….. and are immediately reduced to puddles of anxiety because we haven’t let them figure anything out on their own!

The solution? Hell if I know!? If I knew the magic answers, I probably wouldn’t be getting angry side-eye right now because I told my kid to turn off his ps4 to do a french lesson and some laundry.