Thursday, June 12, 2014

Sour People Make For Sour Parents

Volunteering during exams at my kids’ school, I sat next to a sour-faced woman holding textbooks on her lap.

“Are you selling those back to the school?” I asked.

"Yes. But my son couldn't find one of his books, so I told him, ‘Then you’re gonna pay me for it,’” she declared self-righteously.

AND, she told me, he hadn’t wanted her to come to school today.

“I wonder what he’s hiding,” she said darkly.

You, probably, I thought.

I read an online conversation about who should pay for a teen’s cell phone: parents, child or a combination. One mother said she had told her daughter “no dice” on buying her an iPhone. (Meanwhile, about 95+% of all the kids at my kids’ not-wealthy school have a smart phone.) This daughter left to live with her father, who got her one. “Way to go, dad, for showing her how to be responsible,” the woman fumed.

I read (in the October 2013 issue of Smithsonian Magazine) that 51% of parents reported having amicable relationships with their grown children. This means, presumably, that 49% do not. Sad.

Some people love to huff, “Parents shouldn’t be their children’s friends.” Bullshit. I am perfectly capable of preventing my toddler from playing with electrical outlets or telling my teenager not to drink and drive, without being a vindictive asshole about it.

I’m not saying that having your kid pay for something themselves is a bad idea. But rather than being punitive about it, you could say, ‘You’re becoming adult enough to do this yourself,” perhaps even – gosh –  letting them see, regardless of what you buy for them (or don't), that you love, love, LOVE them.

That way, they can feel good about doing it themselves – and not nauseated that you revel in being nasty to them.

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