Future parenting

I got to escape from my regular “routine” (Its and extremely dynamic and frequently rearranged routine) today.I went out with a friend to help her shop in preparation for a party. It was so refreshing to actually talk with an adult. Particularly one who has been a mother of young children but isn’t anymore. She listens to me sympathetically without needing a turn to whine herself. And then I get to listen to her talking about teenager woes and think about all the stuff I have to look forward to. Okay, that piece is worrisome, but playing ostrich won’t make it go away.

I think many parents not only borrow trouble, but actually set it up for themselves by fearing the teen years. I had someone once tell me “when they turn 14 they go crazy”. No, they don’t. They go through some extremely predictable and understandable body changes and mental changes as they struggle to navigate the passage from childhood to adulthood. Why on earth do parents sabotage themselves into believing that teens are beyond comprehension? Instead parents need to be educating themselves on how to assist that passage. Rather than attempting to control their teens, parents should be seeking ways to guide them to rational independence. It’s a process that should begin well before a child hits puberty so that the pattern is in place. Give them as much freedom as they can deal with and they don’t feel like they have to fight for it. Let them know that you are willing to negotiate. Especially that you are willing to let them convince you that they are right.

Well, at least that’s the theory I’ve been working under for the last 9 years. Some time in the next 5 years I’ll have a feel for how well I did.

All in all I think I’m looking forward to having teenagers. There will definitely be some challenges, but I’m excited to watch my kids develop their own interests and to start being emotionally self sufficient. I’m sure when I get there I’ll miss being the major source of all their opinions, but on the other hand a 16 year old who needs his mother to tell him what he thinks is pretty pathetic and I don’t want that for any of my kids. Someday I’ll get to have adult conversations WITH MY KIDS. That will be really really cool and it isn’t that far away.

6 thoughts on “Future parenting”

  1. Rather than attempting to control their teens, parents should be seeking ways to guide them to rational independence.

    Therein lies the problem. Most parents (at least most modern parents) are either too controling or to apathetic to accomplish this, which I’d say is the primary goal of parenting.

    The fact that you are concerned enough to ponder the issue and really try to do this right means your odds of success are huge compared to the average. Most parents can’t even admit that they have a problem, even when the evidence is screaming at them and slamming the door to their room in a fit.

    Maybe it’s time to invent the “Bad Parenting Intervention”. Hmmm …

  2. Bad Parenting Intervention

    You mean where the state comes in and takes away the kids? It’s already been invented, and judging by how often it ends up with Charlie dancing the Foxtrot, I’d say that someone needs to re-invent it.

    “Intervention,” per your terminology, is a nice model: interventions are usually staged by people who genuinely love the person or persons being intervened on. Foster parents and Child Services cannot claim that genuine love, no matter how much genuine desire they have. That’s love that can only grow from years of service to another person.

    If people lived, worked, and communicated in small, tight communities then we probably wouldn’t have this problem. Of course we’d probably also be wearing home-spun, working agriculture, and not reading Schlock Mercenary. 😉

    Anyway, I’m with Sandra. I want to be able to have grown-up conversations with my kids. (Actually, what I REALLY want is a built-in D&D playgroup, but don’t tell anyone.)

  3. Re: Bad Parenting Intervention

    (Actually, what I REALLY want is a built-in D&D playgroup, but don’t tell anyone.)

    and I are thinking about trying an RPG via LJ. We’re not sure what we want to run though.

  4. Re: Bad Parenting Intervention

    No, no, keep the state out of it please. I meant it as it sounded. Chronic bad parenting is a disease, just like ahlcoholism, which I can never spell correctly except by pure luck. We don’t need government intervention to fix that, we just need a societal atmosphere that would allow for parenting to be something that could be addressed by concerned friends and family without such action automatically being a grounds for excommunication on behalf of the bad parent being confronted. There’s nothing more important than how we raise our children, and not only are many people very very bad at it but it’s also considered unnacceptable to treat anyone with children as anything but a paragon of parenthood until there are bruises involved.

    It’s been my experience that government intervention leads to unforseen undesirable consequences in 90% of everything that the government gets involved in. The other 10% are those situations where the undesirable consequences were forseen.

    EDIT – But now I’m preaching politics again, something I try not to do too much in the comments of other folks’ journals. If I ever get carried away or if I do it too much so that I become annoying, please let me know sandrataylor, and I’ll try keep my commenting to a fluffy-brained minimum from that point on. 🙂

  5. That sounds like a very healthy attitude, and your right that it’s a lot more productive than “when they turn 14 they go crazy” isn’t really a very accurate view of the situation. I still remember my Human Growth and Development classes; it’s very interesting to see the way people go through changes as they get older, and it doesn’t just stop when you become an adult either. We continue to grow well into our lives, and up until the point that we die.

    Anyway, good luck with the plan:D

  6. Re: Bad Parenting Intervention

    I dunno, it’s one thing to talk about people that think their kids are insane and need to be controlled and say ‘that person needs help’. In a case like that, saying that government intervention is a bad deal is almost certainly correct — but I’d hardly say that the vast majority of cases are like that, or that all government interventions in parenting are mishandled.

    When applied to /functional/ parenting, yes, it just causes trouble. However, not all parents are functional. Let’s not forget, for even ten parents that are struggling through the process of raising a kid and managing to do a passable or sub-par (or very good) job…there is very likely a parent that is abusive, neglectful, or otherwise causing trouble.

    None of us likes the idea of the big bad government coming in and “taking away someone’s kids!” It sounds horrible, and the it plays on our inbuild insecurities that “we’re bad parents”. But let’s not forget that kids DO get locked in their rooms for months at a time, that crack-addicted mothers who can’t take care of themselves can have children, and other things that we prefer not to deal with *really do exist*.

    That’s what those cases are for, and I think they’re needed.

    But, 1) I’m not a parent (just a psychology student), and 2) this is perhaps a topic better suited for my own journal. I thought it deserved a bit of mention, however.

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