We have entered the stage of parenting where things aren’t so easy anymore. I mean, no part of parenting is easy, I’m sure, but when they are babies you keep them alive, but once they get older, you think about actions, consequences, and how it all shapes their character.
My older brother remembers my dad telling him that it mattered more to dad that his children had good character than a good education. And my dad is an educator. I know what he is saying and I agree. Of course I’d like for my children to be brilliant and smart, but what matters more to me is that they’re kind and humble.
Brandon has started talking back, asking for things in the store, saying he’s the boss. I know every reaction I have is molding him. I have started saying “no,” withholding rewards if he doesn’t earn them. It is much harder than the first couple years when I spoiled him and constantly said “yes.” I was a fun mom – an older babysitter, really. I took him to the park and bought him toys and played whatever he asked. Now he is learning structure, rules, and consequences and it isn’t fun being the bad guy. Not at all. I much preferred being the hip older babysitter.
It will take him years to appreciate, possibly decades. But one day he will appreciate that I was a hard ass so that he could grow into a fine young man. I tell him now that I am the boss because I know what’s best and if kids ran the world there would be countless cavities, no haircuts, and broken bones every week. Kids run on impulses, while adults live cautiously aware of consequences.
I am teaching him self-control and contentment by not buying him everything he asks for, I’m teaching him obedience and patience and all those virtues that are not inherent in children.
One day, he will appreciate it. It probably won’t be until he has children of his own and he realizes that parents aren’t hard asses because they get pleasure out of it, they are only hard asses because they want the best for their kids. He will learn that it rips him apart to watch his child cry incessantly, knowing he can stop it instantly if he just caves in. But he won’t cave in, because he will have learned what I have: that people with good character trump the rest.
Raising people is not some lark. It’s serious work with serious repercussions. It’s air-traffic control. You can’t step out for a minute: you can barely pause to scratch your ankle.
~ Glitter and Glue by Kelly Corrigan