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Saturday, June 22, 2013

To Be Liked

(This article appears as a part of my weekly Practical Parenting series for The Review Atlas, a GateHouse Media Company)


I want to be liked. We all do really. But I admit I am especially happy when those people to whom I am closest like me best. Especially my kids. I really want to be liked by the fruit of my own womb. Unfortunately, my children often carry an aversion for me, which is one of the infinite tensions of parenthood.
Now, don't get me wrong, my kids like me enough but the truth is they would like me more if I wasn't so strict, authoritative or supervisory. In other words, my kids would enjoy it if I were less of a parent a more of an adult sized friend.

If I let them go where they wanted to go, or let them do what they wanted to do, or allowed them to spend their money in ways, which are completely immature and unpredictable, then I imagine they would nominate me for mother of the year.

However, they and I both know that will never happen.

No, instead I make them go to bed at a decent time, I monitor who they spend time with, I don't allow endless hours in front of a screen, I make them do chores and (gasp!) read a book.

I do those things, and a million more, not because I enjoy being the alpha-chaperone - I don't really want to monitor their bedtimes; I prefer to take care of my own beauty sleep. Keeping track of their schedules, play dates and ballgames makes me feel more like an underpaid administrative assistant. I would rather be doing anything instead of forcing my kids to walk the dog, empty the dishwasher or hang up their wet towels.

I mean seriously, it would be one hundred times easier if I just let them be and do what they want. Perhaps that would even garner some warm feelings from my little offsprings but let's face it; I'd be reduced to a life of servant hood. Which is a serious demotion from motherhood. And I am not interested in being demoted. 

Secondly, let us not forget that kids are developmentally incapable of making wise, sound choices. As their age signifies, children are immature. Immaturity chooses to stay up late, eat junk food and spend time unwisely. I, the adult who just happened to give birth, must teach my children how to make good choices and monitor their lives until they are capable of doing so for themselves.

And trust me I really want them to be able to do this on their own. I don't know if I have another 18 years in me. I don't mean to sound like I make all their decisions for them or supervise their entire day. I don't. My kids need to learn how motivate themselves and suffer the consequences of work undone.

But nevertheless, nothing stings more than when I am doing my best by my kids to keep them safe and healthy and they demand to do something, or go somewhere, that is against my better judgment. That moment when I know if I say "Yes!" they will hug and kiss me and say, "You're the best, Mom!" but my heart will sink because I will have given them permission, not because I did the right thing, but because I did the likable thing.

It is easier, significantly easier most days, to be the fun mom and avoid going with my gut, denying a request and risk living with a cantankerous child for the rest of the day (or week, if you have teenagers).

I don't want that drama. I want peace. I want my kids to like me. I want to be the one who makes them happy. I want them to think I'm awesome. But my need for affirmation cannot steer my parenting decisions.

No, instead I must do my very best to raise my children by my convictions, teaching them along the way how to make their own decisions and cross my fingers and hope for the best when my rule and reign has come to an end in their lives. That's my plan and perhaps when they are grown and mature they will reflect on their adolescent years and finally declare my awesomeness, because it's better late than never. Why? Because I'm the mom and I said so.

Stephanie is a parent to five children ranging in age from 17 years to 8 year old twins. She is employed during the school year as a parent educator with the Monmouth-Roseville school district and blogs at stephaniesikorski.blogspot.com

2 comments:

  1. I tell my kids, in the most soothing voice possible as they sob about what they can't have or do... "I know, I know... I am the meanest mom ever. You know why though, right? Because it is fun... I like to make you sad. Do you believe that?" Sometimes I get a yes, sometimes a no... but I assure them that someday when they have kids, they will be the meanest mom or dad ever too... and not because it is fun... but because we love our kids and want them to grow up to be the people we know they can be.

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  2. Great story! I figure it is not our job to be our kid's friend..it is our job to be our kid's parent. But it is nice every once and a while when they recognize that the parenting choices that we make are really in their best interest. : )

    Kath

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