Monday, April 18, 2016

P: What is a Parent or How to be a better Parent?

Before I talk about parenting, let me just get this off my chest.   While being a parent today is tough, the thing that makes it hard is that being a kid today is so impossible.   I feel so incredibly blessed to have been a kid before the internet.   I didn't grow up with cell phones, laptops, and tablets.  We had a set of encyclopedias in our house, purchased by my school teacher parents in 1970, the year I was born.  If I needed to do research on something, I had to go to the library and look it up in books which were paper objects not something I read on a reader.  (Not that I don't love my kindle now, mind you.)

Okay, so parenting.   Aside from the challenges faced because the kids are so linked into social media and so removed from actual social interaction, there are many ways to parent and many things that create road blocks to successful parenting.

For example, I am not a parent to some people.   I am more like a care taker.  I don't qualify as a parent because I didn't give birth or adopt my step-daughter, I simply married her father.   I have actually been told this by other parents.  The school doesn't really acknowledge me although chances are if there is an after school function for parents, I have been there for the last nearly 3 years like clockwork and I am usually the one to take her to her meetings.   This use to bother me.  The lack of respect for step-parents from other parents and the school district.  Then I realized, it isn't my problem it is theirs.  Truthfully, the teachers aren't the problem with schools it's the idiotic rules.  As for the other parents, the real parent specifically who discounted me is the worst example to her teenage daughter that exists so do I care what she thinks, not a bit. 

So what is a parent? 

A parent is someone who makes sure the kid has basic necessities; cloths, food, and shelter.  

A parent is someone who ensures homework is being done.

A parent is someone who listens to their child's problems.

A parent is someone who makes sure the cloths the kid wears are clean and appropriate.

A parent is someone who makes sure the food they eat is healthy most of the time.

A parent is someone who knows what types of social media their kids are on and monitors it.

A parent is someone who takes responsibility for their child's mistakes and doesn't blame the school.

A parent is someone who knows where their kid is and what they are doing. 

A parent is someone who makes decisions for their kids that are in their best interests.

A parent is someone who puts their child's needs in front of their own a lot of the time.

A parent is someone who sets an example for their children. 
This means they wear appropriate cloths, their skirts are not too small and their breasts don't hang out.   Save that for your date night when the kids are not around.  They also respect and uphold the law.  You don't steal, cheat, or lie because your kids will know the truth and unless you want them to grow up to be criminals like yourself, you do the right thing.

A parent sets good moral examples.  Don't bring members of the opposite sex around your kids until and unless the relationship is serious and for heaven's sake, unless you want to raise a teenage trollop, don't parade a bunch of sexual partners around your kids.  I don't care if you call them Uncle or Aunt whatever, they are not a part of your kids life until they need to be. 

A parent should be the one person the child can count on above all others.  This means being available for your kid. 

A parent is an adult.

So let me tell you a little bit about my step-daughter and my relationship.   She likes to talk to me because I don't parent her, she says.  I listen.  To this I explained that believe it or not, my listening to her is parenting her.  I learned from the best on being a parent, my mother.  I may not have gotten to this kid at birth but I got there as soon as I could and I take care of her like she were my own.   So I listen. I try not to judge, realizing she is at that awkward stage where she is finding herself.  I give gentle suggestions or sometimes not so gentle suggestions, and I let her know when I am disappointed in her choices.  How?  I tell her.  I have told her at least one time this school year that I was disappointed in her choices and apparently it hit home.  I probably get mad way less than her dad and about the same as her mom but I do it in a way that is different from each of them so to her, I don't parent her.   Don't get me wrong, we have had some blow up arguments.  I had to set ground rules, something she wasn't use to and I am still working on her mouth.  When you have a girl raised by a bunch of men at hunting camp, you have a girl with a potty mouth. 

But, the truth is, inside, I think she knows I do parent her.  I take her shopping for cloths.  Am I a push over?  Not entirely.  I let her have just so much and sometimes I make her put things back.  I watched her spend 20 minutes walking around in socks and Jennifer Lopez high heels before I told her there was no way she, a tall girl in the first place and a not even 13 year old in the second, needs 6 inch heels.  I reminded her that I owe it to her parents to do what is best and there was no way she was going to get her dad on board with those hooker heels much less her mom.   She huffed and puffed and put the shoes back.

I also, at least until the last couple of weeks, made dinner for her every night.   My new job has made this incredibly difficult because instead of getting home at 5 to cook, I know get home at 7, if I am lucky.   We are learning to use the crockpot more so I stick something on in the morning and hope it is edible by the time she gets home to eat.  

I also, at least until I started working stupid hours, was the one who took her to get her bunnies tattooed and ran her all over North Texas doing 'stuff'.  Stuff includes the ever important friend shopping trips because they needed a 'girls night out'.  This sounded so adult until they begged me to go get ice cream.  Still kids.

I don't know what a perfect parent is.  I am not anywhere near close to being perfect.  I do my best and love her the way I can, which may not be parent enough to some people but it is what I have to offer and she and I are good with it, even if she does feel the need to remind me on occasion that I am not her parent, and I feel the need to correct her and explain that I AM her parent.

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