Maggie A's Meanderings




 Nov 30, 2014

Truly Odd Parents:
Parents Who Take a Hard Job and Make It Harder

When it comes to modern parenting, there's one question that I have to ask. Do today's parents like to make extra work for themselves?

Because that's exactly what they do. They work and work and work to create more work for themselves. Parenting is a hard enough job as is. Why do so many of today's parents make it even harder?

In my home, the school day began the night before. That night, each child was responsible for gathering what they needed for school the next day. Children bathed, brushed teeth, put on pajamas and said goodnight and were already in bed with the lights off by the bedtime hour --- all without having to be told. Total adult effort to get all the children into bed ---- ZERO. Once in bed, each child had been given an alarm clock so it was the child's responsibility to set the alarm for the morning. In the morning, the children all woke up at the alarm, ate breakfast, put the dishes in the sink, got cleaned up and dressed for school. Everyone was out the door in time to walk to the bus stop and catch the school bus. Not once did anyone ever miss the bus. Getting driven to school wasn't even in the equation.
The only adult actions required in the morning were cooking breakfast (if it wasn't cereal or toast) and making lunches. The morning process from alarm to out the door was 45 minutes ------ 45 minutes of peace, calm and order.

I compare that to parents nowadays where everything is a battle. Bedtime is a battle. Mornings are a worse battle sometimes taking hours to get the kid out the door. Mealtimes are a battle.

A child who won't eat what was cooked isn't told, "That's what's for dinner. Eat it or don't eat, but you're not getting anything else." Instead the offending food is taken away and food choice after food choice is offered until it's something the child will consent to eat -------- usually something salty, fatty or sweet. What the child learns from that ------- no, what the child is carefully taught by their parents from that is that they can be picky eaters and their parents will literally jump up and down from the table to accommodate them.

And the thing is, all the parents are doing are making more work for themselves. Your kids can handle a smartphone and can text at high speed, but they can't operate an alarm clock? Of course they can. They just won't because they don't have to, because their parents don't expect them to. Their parents expect to wake them up --- as many times as it takes. The kids can play for hours, but can't put the dirty dishes in the sink/dishwasher? Of course they can, but they know their parents expect to come along behind them and remove the dishes. So the children live down to their parents' expectations of them. 

Instead of laying out expectations that the children will be responsible and do things for themselves, far too many of today's parents lay down expectations of "You don't have to do that because I'll do it for you." What? Do these parents like the extra work? Do they want to make their children dependent?

In one case I knew of, the answer was "Yes" to that last question. But that mother probably had a personality disorder and certainly had deep-seated psychological issues around abandoment. So I figured that subconsciously she was doing everything she could to make her daughter dependent upon her so her daughter wouldn't ever leave her. The result was an 8 year old girl who couldn't turn off a hose, but that's okay because he mother did it for her; an 8 year old girl who couldn't put a plug into an electrical outlet, but her mom did that for her too. And when this 8 year old girl was asked to put a box back on the table from where it had fallen, she picked up the box, stared at the table and when she literally could not figure out how to put the box on the table, she set it back on the floor where her mother promptly came along and put the box back on the table for her. It wasn't pretty to see this extremely bright, physically healthy little girl be turned into something so useless and helpless. But it's what the mother wanted.
This was a woman who said she wanted her daughter to still be sleeping with her when the girl was 16 --- oblivious to how creepy that made her sound. Even after death, the mother didn't want to let go. She wanted her ashes to be turned into a diamond so she could be worn around her daughter's neck for the rest of the girl's life. (There were other jewelry options available. She could have said any other piece of jewelry. But she choose a pendant. The symbolism of her being a stone around her daughter's neck went over the mother's head.) So here was a case of a parent creating more work for herself by creating a dependent child, but that woman was mentally ill.

What's the excuse of the other parents out there? They can't all be mentally ill.

So what is it in the parental make-up today that so many parents like to make more work for themselves, not less?

Usually these are the same parents who inflate their children's egos. They think their kids are great, smart, talented, etc. So clearly they don't think their children are too dumb to do basic stuff. They'd be deeply insulted at the notion that their child couldn't operate a clock. But it would still never cross their minds to expect their child to operate a clock.

And don't tell me it's easier to not expect the children to do stuff for themselves and to not be responsible for themselves. Don't tell me that's less work. Sure, the parents would have to put some work in to begin with in setting up expectations and enforcing them, but putting that work in for a few days or a few weeks is a lot less work than having to battle every single day and do the work every single day for their entire childhood. Yet that is the goal that many parents today seem to be striving very hard for.

So when I hear some of the parents I know complain about how exhausted they are, how busy they are, how much work their kids take.................... having seen their parenting, they don't get much sympathy because I'm thinking, "You're doing it to yourself."


Unless, you are one of those odd parents who likes making more work for themselves.

Dad carrying children who are old enough to walk

For more on parenting, there's "When You Think God's Light Shines Out of Your Kid's Asshole.........You're Raising a Brat (And Why It's Not Doing Your Kid Any Favors)."

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