Thursday, September 24, 2009

I'm still a Nazi Parent

I posted this a few years ago and was promptly bombarded with a mixed bag of mail. Many readers said that I'm naive. One said that I'm manipulative and controlling and will rue the day my sons break free of their 1950's upbringing and rebel in ways that will shock me. One reader even called me a Nazi parent. And, many warned me of a "rude awakening". So, three and a half years later, lets revisit this.

My sons are now 25, 20, and 15. Never been in jail. No drugs. No alcohol abuse. No totalled cars. We eat lunch as a family on Sunday afternoons where I catch up on the latest work, bowling, or girlfriend adventures and hear about the newest album from the latest band whose name I'll never remember. They make sure I know when to be there when the youngest one runs, the middle one plays soccer, and the oldest one wrestles.

Sure, there is a great divide in approaches to parenthood and yes, there are and always will be disappointments, arguments, and challenges. But rude awakening? I'm not sleepwalking.


Grubber said...

You could have distilled those all down to one rule, if you are Paris Hilton, you can't date my son :)

I agree with you Maryann, if you don't set rules, parameters and expectations then you aren't doing you're job. Where I think some people become confused is they think if you set those things, you don't/can't/aren't able to back them up with lots of love and understanding, which as a parent, is just a natural part of what you/we do anyway.

Well, if you are doing it properly. Unfortunately, we see lots of examples of that not happening and the resultant fallout.

Put my wife and I down on your side. Both our kids are not doing drugs, in jail, etc as well. At 10 and 5 I still think that's pretty good so far :)


MaryAn Batchellor said...

Thanks so much, Dave. Needed to read this today! Really really did!

Do you ever feel like a Texas fan sitting on the OU side? That's me. No, you can't have contact lenses at 12 years old. No you can't have a cell phone until ninth grade. Yes you go to bed at 9pm until high school. I don't care how old you are, I'm waiting up. Geez. What are you thinking!

Then, I attend a funeral - an unnecessary death - of a kid that went to school with one of my sons and I'm sick at the thought that one day that could be my own child. Nobody is immune to error and bad judgment. Not me, not my kids, nobody.

There are many deaths. A DWI car accident. A drug overdoses. A suicide. An untreated infection from a secret abortion. It's overwheming at times but strengthens my resolve to be a prude, overprotective & meddling parent.

My sons have questioned my parenting but at least they talk to me about stuff. Recently, my middle son (a detention officer) had to book in somebody he went to school with. He was crushed. Later he came home and said, "now I get it, Mom, now I get it".

Grubber said...

Do you ever feel like a Texas fan sitting on the OU side?

Australian translation(as best I can):
Do you ever feel like a Queenslander(Canetoad) sitting on the NSW(Cockroach) side on State of Origin night?

You bet.

What, you try and get your 5 year old to bed by 7pm? Your daughter can't have a tattoo/nosering 'til she can vote? Your daughter can't date until she is thirty(well okay that last one is just my wishful thinking......... :) )

When people hear rules they think big bad parent whereas I think small things. No TV on school days before breakfast, chores(make bed, get bags ready) and getting dressed for school are completed.

Daughter's job after school is complete homework and maybe pick up the dog poo (sometimes she has to compete with her little brother to do that one :) )

Rules for me, try and be a good parent. Besides rules, etc. try and never be too tired to play with them for at least a few minutes each day. I remember Dad coming home after a day as a builder sometimes covered in concrete from a slab being poured and he would never not come out and throw the ball, etc for at least a few minutes. I look back on it now and the guy must have been exhausted but he did it. Me, never thought about it until I was much older like your son......then it struck me what he did for me. Did I remember the rules, etc. no, I thought of all the good times.

I know some people think rules restrict kids, yadda, yadda, yadda. My son is a drawing machine, he will churn out several drawings an hour of his favourite characters of that week(Ben 10, TMNT, etc) my daugher will hand us a small book all bound with staples of her latest story, so I really don't get this restriction thing. It isn't happening to my kids.

Will rules stop them doing drugs, getting involved with bad kids and any of the other million dangers out there. No, but it is a start and the best my wife and I can do. We get to find out our pass mark as parents in about 10-15 years.

One thing as a parent, you don't get graded on a the curve.

Hope your day got better Maryann!
PS if you want cred with your kids, put them onto an Aussie band called The Living End for hard rock and if they like football, track down highlights of the State of Origin Rugy League matches available on DVD, some of the toughest rugby league games they will ever see.

MaryAn Batchellor said...

The Living End. Great title for a band. Will tell the guys to ckeck it out!

And yeah, the day got better. Just a dilemma. The nephew was in his fourth car wreck since March. Totalled his car twice. Do I take an hour out of my day three days a week to pick him up from college or let him wait there three to four hours until his Dad gets off work? An hour of inconvenience for me vs. three hours to four hours for him.

I think I'm going for the latter. You can't just keep wrecking your cars and expect other people to acommodate your schedule. Still, I fell guilty...

MaryAn Batchellor said...

So, the boys already know the band. Two out of three thumbs up!

Anonymous said...

Love your blog - we have similar lives and interests. BUT, although I respect your take on this, I have to say that I also raised 3 boys, now in their 20s, who are happy, successful, kind people free of drugs and arrest records! We are all the best of friends, still. And I did it alone, in NYC, starting out as a single teenaged mom and working my way to single mom/lawyer/screenwriter, did it VERY permissively - no bedtimes, little supervision, no rules about whom to date, etc.

What we DID have in place of rules - lots of discussions about morality, consequences (life ones, not ones meted out by me), choosing directions in life, taking responsibility for mistakes. Lots of evaluation of choices made. Lots of putting themselves in other peoples' shoes.

There's more than one way to skin a cat or successfully raise a great kid. Myself, I don't believe your method or mine did the trick. Instead, I think what we share in common is love and concern for our kids, an open ear and an open mind. I think that's what put them on the right path.

BTW, I wouldn't feel at all guilty for making the nephew wait. He crashed the car (and not the first time, either) - he's the one who should be inconvenienced by it. No question.


MaryAn Batchellor said...

Agreed, Dobes that my way is not the only way. My point is that it works for me so don't beat me up for it. And yeah, making the nephew wait. No more guilt.