Recently I was torn up one side and down the other for my parenting skills. I’m just going to throw this out there and talk about it openly. Am I perfect? No. I am all too human, but I am also a damn good mother. Let me share some of the story with you. I will share some of my story as well. You decide what’s right for your child and I will respect you 100%. In turn, hear me out before you judge my parenting skills.
A couple different friends of mine have been discussing how angry they were about finding their child with a mod. (For a vape.) Rightfully, those parents were mad as hell and beside themselves. They were searching for advice. What do I do? How do I handle this? Punishment? Repentance? Grounding? WTH?!
I sat and watched the comments and opinions of many people. Although there is no absolute answer, I couldn’t disagree more with most of what I was hearing. My answer was simply, hey, it’s not the end if the world. Is it right? Nope, but it could be so much worse. Our kids have to make their own mistakes and find themselves. As parents, we seem to forget that we were kids once. We made our own mistakes that helped us learn along the way. Take a breath, remember that this is not life ending. They are kids testing life. We did too. Shit went downhill as soon as the words came out of my mouth.
Because I summarized and did not declare that the child needed to be stoned to death or hung out to dry, I was dismissing the whole thing and I should shut the hell up. Wait, what?! Ok. Let’s go there.
Personally I was a rebel in my own way. I wasn’t given the chance of a normal childhood or allowed to be myself. I was to be seen and not heard and jump when I was told. I wasn’t entitled to my own opinion. I was told that I would be religious and I would conform. I was constantly ridiculed and abused in every way that exists. At 14, my father called me a slut and a tramp in front of his business partner because I unknowingly walked into the living room in my knee length nightshirt during a visit from his partner. The few days I was allowed to be a teenager (because I was smiling and laughing) I had to be doing drugs.
I was accused of anything and everything yet, I wasn’t allowed to live life. It was my job to take care of the house and my siblings. I had no life outside those miserable walls. By 10 years of age, I was a full grown adult in a child’s body. At 14.5, I had enough. Since I was constantly accused and punished for things I didn’t do, I started doing them because at least I was getting punished for something instead of nothing.
The first time I ever drank, my father met me at the door to give me the usual bitching out. I was 2 minutes late. 2 minutes and it was on. He started in on me and I told him to just stop. I wanted to go to bed. Then he discovered I had been drinking. He freaked out like I had never seen. He screamed at me “You’ve been drinking beer haven’t you?” I hadn’t so I said “No.” This happened three times before I finally said “No I haven’t. I have however been drinking vodka. Since I am always being punished for things I don’t do, I did it. Go ahead and punish me now. It was worth it.” The next thing I remember is being thrown up against the wall seeing the punch coming. I woke up on the tile entry way floor with a concussion. Little did my parents know I hated the feeling of being drunk and didn’t plan on doing it again. That was before he knocked me out.
I only drank more after that. It was the only way to block the pain and in my mind, the justification of being beat up was reason enough to just stay wasted as much as possible. I got high once in my teen years. Never did it again. I hated it but my drinking continued. The personal attacks and ugly life went on.
At 16, I was tired of being pushed around at school, being abused at home, tired of life. I was told every move to make and when to do it. I attempted to commit suicide. Things only got worse. I drank even more, started smoking and having sex because that’s who I was according to my father. I dropped out of school at 16 to work because I wanted out. I wanted to stop drinking. I wanted a normal life. I was told I would give my checks to my parents to help support the family because I owed them for being such shit. I got a second job to prove them wrong. This only made things worse and I started drinking at work so by the time I got home, nothing could hurt me.
At 17 I got pregnant. You would have thought the world was going to end. I was indeed a tramp. The family embarrassment. Garbage. I told my parents I wanted out and of course that wasn’t an option and got knocked around once again as usual. A couple of months after I found out I was pregnant I started feeling very sick and in a lot of pain and I knew something was wrong. I asked my parents repeatedly to take me to the doctor. They refused. One night I was in so much pain, I asked my boyfriend to take me to the hospital. When I got there, I was hours from dying. The hospital called my parents for permission to treat me. My father refused because he didn’t want a bill. Because I was so close to death, they did surgery anyway. I knew the price was going to be big emotionally and physically but I was alive.
A month or so after losing my child, I couldn’t take anymore and left home. The police repeatedly forced me to go back. I picked up a third job to avoid being in those walls entirely. Two weeks after I turned 18, I got married because I could and they couldn’t do damn thing about it. Leaving home was such a freedom. My life didn’t get better but at least I was in control of things in my mind.
The point of sharing all my dirt? Kids do things to test life. I have seen many of my friends hiding things from their teen years and pretending they were perfect in hope that their kids will be better. Unknowingly, this only makes the kids feel less than, feeling pressure to be just like their parents. The problem is, that pressure only pushes them to try everything possible because they can’t be what they “perceive” as perfect as their parents. I have seen studies and research that proves this.
I have see many friends who think and act like they have perfect lives while behind closed doors their children are some of the most wild kids out of rebellion from being forced to be someone they haven’t even found themselves yet.
I most certainly don’t have a perfect life but my children have been allowed to discover and be themselves. Do I agree or promote their mistakes? No way. I also don’t pretend like I haven’t been there done that. They know I wasn’t perfect in the past or the now. In return, I have had children that come to me about everything. Mistakes and all. They learn from their life lessons and move on. I have amazing kids who don’t drink, steal, or do drugs. They are most certainly all too human and age appropriate but they are decent, kind, empathetic, smart kids who have learned to say no to wrong choices by the mistakes they have made.
Discovering natural consequences, consequences imposed by parents and society, all need to be learned by each of us in our own way. Our children, somewhere in the back of their minds know all too well that we were each mischievous and did our own shit that wasn’t right. Just because we try to hide it doesn’t mean they believe it. They know we are full shit. Do you really think they would fall for the “I never did anything crap?” That thought is a real thinking error.
So, when your child tries smoking or drinking instead of thinking it’s the end of the world, talk to them. Let them know you weren’t perfect. Let them know you are disappointed but you love them anyway. Give them consequences but don’t throw them to the wolves thinking you are teaching them a lesson. You’re not. You’re pushing them farther away. I was that kid yet, even with all of the crap that I went through, I turned out being a pretty damn good human.
Go ahead and judge me now. It doesn’t matter if you disagree but my method works for my family. I have a great, open relationship with my kids. I know who their friends are and where they are at because they tell me voluntarily, not because I force them. My kids are the ones who don’t cave into peer pressure. They walk away from drunken parties and dope smoking friends. I have done a hell of a job as a mother and I see it in my children. Yes, kids need consequences but they also need to make mistakes and deserve to have parents who “get it,” parents who understand what it’s like trying to find themselves. If that makes me a shitty parent, maybe some of you should come to the dark side. Just sayin’. 🙂
More Love. Less Hate. H