Alright so I tried to write this blog yesterday and it didn't work. I'm not giving up. I'm not sugar coating this either. Sorry if it offends anyone. Here we go.
Parenting today is hard. I don't care if you are a birth parent, and adoptive parent, a step-parent, or a foster parent. There are a variety of reasons why parenting is so hard and some of them are our fault.
Absolutely the worst thing we ever did for my step-daughter was give her my old iPhone 5. As far as I am concerned that phone better last until she can afford to get her own phone because I will never give her another. She isn't unique on this. Cell phones are ruining people's lives, relationships, and brains. However, kids are even less equipped to function. Need a calculator? Grab the phone. Bored? Play a game on your phone. Mad at someone? Get to texting and putting that person on blast in Social Media. Seriously, kids don't understand that you can't call people names, say crud things, and post hateful comments on Social Media. The stuff I have seen on Step-Daughter's (SD) Instagram is sickening. Children do not understand the responsibility or privilege associated with phones. We, as parents, tell ourselves that we do it so they are safe. Sadly, they aren't ever going to be safe. Do you even know who the kids will call in an emergency? Is it you or their friends?
Living life without faith is horrible. God pulls you through the darkness. God brings hope to the hopeless. God tells you "I know where I am sending you so have faith that My plans are going to work out." Too many kids have no faith. They don't believe in anything or anyone outside themselves. They walk around thinking they are invincible or worse, owed. That has to be a sad place to live. Inside a head that is telling you there is nothing, no one you can count on but you and the world owes you because you were...born.
Parents can't be selfish however they also can't put the kids first in everything. It is a balancing act and very few parents get it right. Kids today have a lot of pressure and stress on them. They also have an inflated sense of self and a selfish streak a mile high. "Your dad and I are going on vacation without you." Kid: "you are taking me. You think I won't find a way to go? I will win." We actually had a similar conversation with SD recently. I don't know if I am suppose to laugh at her or ground her. (She isn't going "to win", BTW). I don't know about you but as a kid I didn't have everything I wanted but I sure had everything I needed. This is where I fail my SD. I try to give her everything she wants. That's bad, bad, bad. First, we can't afford it. Second, she is starting to become a little bit spoiled and expects to get her way. Still, overall, she is a good kid and when you talk to her, she comes around. (About everything but that vacation. She is still planning on going. Not going to happen!)
Parents who are missing, too busy, or just ignorant of their kids needs. This happens all the time. Like I said above, you can't make the kids the center of your universe but you have to actually show up. So many parents today are just MIA. The kids get home from school to a filthy house and they have to make their own dinner, watch TV and play on their phone or go hang at other kids houses. The parents aren't around. The parents are never around. Some parents you just never see. Honestly, with some of these kids, it's amazing they have food to eat!
Let's face it, kids spend most of their life with their friends. Knowing the kids that they hang out with and meeting their parents may seem old fashioned but it is necessary. First of all, you can't let kids go to someone else's house to spend the night if you haven't met the parents. Meeting other parents is not going to tell you what goes on in other homes but you may pick up on something meeting the kids and seeing them interact with parents. Are the kids respectful to you and their parents? I have literally heard kids tell their parents to "Shut the F up." That's not acceptable. Kids are mouthy but they also need to know their place! Are the parents actively parenting? Sadly, what you really need to know, you can't. In the 2 years I have been a part of my SD life, she has had friends who were allegedly physically abused by their parents. She had had friends who's parents were arrested for a variety of alleged allegations like identity theft, stealing, and sexual assault. How do you protect them from that??? You simply can not. You have a LOT of talks.
I am not saying I had it better growing up 30-40 years ago but...I did. I don't recall one summer when I wasn't outside playing, making up games, using my imagination. No cell phones. I don't recall one friend who's parents were ever arrested. My mother washed my mouth out with soap if I got too mouthy and you know what? I am grateful! And my parents loved us. We went on family vacations but they also were smart enough to know the kids are not the center of the universe and they need time for themselves too because parents need time alone to concentrate on their relationship with each other and just get away from the stress. My parents did okay. My childhood was pretty good.