YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED: THIS POST CONTAINS SOME POTTY WORDS. If you don’t like swearing, stop reading here.
This is one of my longer posts so grab a cup of something hot, lean back and scroll on…
I am a mum to two amazing boys who routinely drive me insane. Like, legitimately insane. They make me cry, scream, pull out my eyelashes, take the long way home after work, and hide in the toilet. I’ll admit that sometimes I will send them to the basement to watch TV with pizza pockets in hand just so I can have 30 minutes to get the ringing in my ears to stop. But I love them and I’d do anything for them. On the flip side of the parent coin, all three of us are lucky to have my husband living under the same roof. He is my long-suffering and patient partner who supports me and every/any crazy thought, project, rash decision I have. He’s not a romantic fellow. I proposed to him and I can count on one hand the number of times he has given me flowers. However, I won the matrimonial lottery when I met him. He is loyal, kind, hard-working, heeeeeelarious, and puts up with my ridiculous shit. He has also carefully educated our sons about PMS and the best way to handle me when I become irrational (I’m one of those lucky ladies who suffers from hostile PMS, postpartum depression, and take happy pills to keep me sane). If the tables were turned I probably would have run away from home a long time ago. I am blessed to have him as my co-parent and life partner who keeps me on a straight enough path (it’s not like he can control me but his opinions DO matter). The boys are gosh-darned fortunate he can mentally retreat far enough back that they have avoided serious injury due to their attitudes and shenanigans. He’s a good guy and a brave man.
As parents, we look at the world through judgmental and suspicious eyes. Our boys are growing up in a very different world than I did and it is fucking scary. For me and my friends, our teenage years focused around big hair, tight jeans, underage drinking, smoking, getting our driver’s licences, and pre-marital sex. My evenings were spent trying to pick up Detroit radio station WLLZ on my small boom box from my small room in my small Canadian city. There was no Internet and no cell phones. Information came fairly slow (in comparison to today) and music videos were just beginning to show us the nasty underbelly of entertainment industry marketing.
Nowadays, kids have to worry about cyber bullying, eating disorders, body issues, and convinced they have to look “hot” at 12 years old. Compared to our childhoods think about the stuff our kids have access to with a couple of clicks. Just last night I was talking my 8-year-old son down from a self-induced hissy fit because he was on YouTube and came across a video that scared the shit out of him. He saw a bloody and violent cartoon and now he couldn’t sleep. He didn’t even go looking for it. That BM inducing video found him!
Now, I can already hear the tongue clucking from a wave of readers who are about to tsk tsk me for allowing him to be online without supervision. The truth of the situation is that I was at work and my boys were being watched by my mother. She’s 69 and not tech savvy at all. She wasn’t in the room, didn’t know what content they were accessing, and therefore nothing was being monitored. But you know who is to blame for the whole situation? The #1 person(s) who should be held accountable for my son’s nightmares? It’s not YouTube. It’s not my mother. It’s not the creators of the cartoon. The people at fault are me and my husband.
Ultimately, what/how/when my children access television, games, online content, and books is to be monitored by my husband and I. It’s up to us to talk to our sons about what is appropriate for them at different ages. We are the ones who need to impose limits and guidelines to protect them. But most importantly hubbs and I are the ones who need to promote conversation with our kidlets. We need to talk to our kids about anything and everything no matter how awkward that conversation may be. I’m not the most conforming person out there but there are some conversations you MUST have with your children in order to help push the next generation forward toward becoming good, decent folk. For your convenience and to help get your creative conversation juices flowing I have listed them below. Feel free to change-up the vocabulary to suit your family.
- Don’t eat snot. Not your own or anyone else’s. It’s gross. Go ahead and pick your nose, everyone does. Just please don’t be “that” kid and eat it.
- Stop sticking your naked crotch into the dog’s face. I know you’re just trying to say “hi” like she does but once again, don’t be “that” kid.
- Don’t be mean. I would consider myself a failure as a parent if you grew up to be cruel, demeaning, and an asshole. I am going to do everything I can to make sure you learn empathy and sympathy, patience, and acceptance of others.
- Don’t base your self-worth on the opinions of others. If they don’t like you the way you are, fuck them.
- Do NOT try to blame anyone for your mistakes. If you did/said something and it didn’t work out the way you wanted to, say you’re sorry and accept that you screwed up.
- Turn to people who know more than you and ask questions. If you’re surrounded by idiots then go to the library and ask for help at the front desk. Don’t trust Google to answer your questions correctly.
- As your parent, I am making up shit as I go along. I have never had children before you so I severely lack the expertise. If I don’t have answers I go looking for them from people who know a lot more than I do. I am trying and I hope you appreciate that.
- Call me on my own bullshit. Just because you’re smaller and younger than me I can concede that you are pretty smart and know a lot I don’t know. If I’m having a grown up temper tantrum remind me I might need a time out.
- I’m going to make a shit ton of mistakes raising you. Don’t hold them against me as I won’t hold your mistakes against you. Unless of course you honestly know better and you’re choosing to be an idiot. I mean, c’mon!
- Earn the respect of others. No one should give it to you “just because”. You might be the world’s next Einstein but if you’re a jerk no one will respect you.
- I honestly don’t care if you like girls or boys or both. But if you love someone treat them with honour.
- If I ever find out you have disrespected someone based on the clothes they wear, how they style their hair, how they dance, what music they listen to, who they choose to love, what they choose to do (or not do) to their body I will tear you a new one.
- Give everyone you meet a chance to earn your respect.
- Learn from others and make sure you share what you know. Just don’t be obnoxious about it. Again…don’t be “that” guy!
- I am sure I have others but I’ll never publish this post if I try to remember everything I want to talk to my boys about…
I am so tired of people blaming the internet for their children’s issues. It’s easier to look at someone else and say they influenced your child to do something, say something, wear something, or twerk against a door and accidentally set herself on fire. Stop blaming the Miley Cyruses and Robin Thickes of the world. Don’t blame the classmates your kids hang out with. Don’t blame Playboy or Penthouse. Don’t blame Victoria’s Secret or Maxim Magazine. Don’t blame Cosmo, either. Don’t blame the movies. Don’t blame the musicians and performing artists. Stop passing the buck, parents. Raising our kids to be responsible and respectful men and women is our job. It is our responsibility.
I’m going to share my opinion here and it’s not going to be popular. What ever happens to our kids is our fault. Good or bad, it’s our fault. We are living in an age where we have convinced ourselves that we don’t have any influence over our children. Bullshit! Or children want us to help mold them. They may be rolling their eyes when we offer advice or say, “Sit down. I want to talk to you about something.” They are going to hate us for calling them on their crap and stupid behaviour. But I can tell you one thing for certain; our kids would rather have us take an interest in their lives than let them stumble along on their own and raise themselves with the help of Facebook, Twitter, MySpace (does anyone still use that?), or Google+.
Sure, sometimes no amount of love and guidance will instill good morals in our kids. Yes, there are situations where nothing short of professional help is going to help our child with a mental illness or deal with a traumatic event. Most definitely there are times when we want to throw our hands up and say, “Fuck it! I tried!” But did you really? Did you REALLY try? Did you really ask your young daughter about that picture of her you found online? The one where she’s posing in front of the bathroom mirror, looking over her shoulder, wearing only her bra, panties, and a duckface? Did you honestly turn to your son after you heard him joking around with his buddies by calling one another “pussy”, “little bitch”, or “cunt” (for the life of me I cannot figure out why men insult one another using terms that pertain to females).
Look, I am the least perfect person in the world. Despite my mom doing her absolute best I had a pretty shitty childhood. I attended six elementary schools and three high schools, lived in three different provinces, was kidnapped by my own father, and watched my parents channel their inner Dick and Liz by marrying and divorcing one another twice. Add to that family alcoholism, bullying, depression, and deeply hidden generational closet skeletons and we have one spicy soup of dysfunction. In all honesty I should have been a statistic. Fortunately, one of the things my mother did right was put me in as many therapeutic groups and workshops as she could. She didn’t have the tools to help me after my father put her and I into a women’s shelter so she turned to the people who did. I learned a lot in those groups and from the counsellors I worked with. Thank Zeus for their guidance because I shudder to think where I may or may not be today.
But this is what I’m getting at, people! If you don’t already have the tools to help your kids make good decisions then find the people who do. Are you a single parent, sign your kid up for Big Brothers or Big Sisters. Find a support group you can attend so you can get the help you need, too. Do you have 23 kids and burn the candle at both ends? I’m sorry you’re tired and frustrated but those kids still need you. If there are no resources in your community then take a giant leap, grow a set, and start something yourself!
I honestly believe there is no excuse to blame anyone else (i.e. the media) for our children’s behaviours. We chose to have children and therefore it’s our job to give them the tools they need to survive in this world. Talk, talk, talk. I mean, don’t be a pest about it. You don’t have to be hanging over their shoulders every moment but when you see something good, bad, celebratory, or troubling talk to them about it. If you don’t, they might turn to Lil’ Wayne for advice.
ps…NO! I don’t hate Lil’ Wayne but I have to wonder if that guy got enough hugs when he was a boy.