Stu's Dad Blog
"You're being an ass," I admonished.
...and with that, she engaged the icy teenage stare.
I responded with the classic parental raising of the eyebrows as if to say, "Do we remember which one of us is the parent?"
Silently, she closed her book and sulked into her room.
She was being a jerk. I don't have to like it.
What is going on?
I seem to be bombarded lately with articles about how parents feel bad that they don't "like" their teens. These dissertations from parents are about how the person their child has become is not the way they raised them. The parents go on to explain feelings of guilt and shame at not thinking their children are beautiful angels.
The article comments are filled with parent after parent responding in commiseration, creating these weird parent-self-help-self-pity groups. Some have gone so far as to say you really need a peer parent who has gone through this tragic stage to lean on for help and support.
I'll be honest, here. I don't get it.
Stop feeling bad and continue being a parent.
Why is it not that simple?
Didn't you raise your kid the "right" way? Didn't you teach them the difference between right and wrong, not to lie, not to cheat? Of course! We all did to some extent or another.
The reality is that I was no Dali Lama as a teen and I can't believe we would expect that our teens are going to be. "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone." Right? We still believe that, don't we?
These few years as a pissy teenager are temporary. They're growing and pushing boundaries. As parents, we just need to remember three things:
- It is still our job to hold the boundaries. Let 'em push, but hold the fort.
- When this phase is over, they'll go back to being little angels – albeit ones with tattoos and ear-plugs possibly.
- We still get to call them on their crap! What fun would parenting be if we couldn't?
Your kids are going to be jerks. Just like everyone in the world has their moments of imperfection, our kids will not forever be perfect little boys and girls... if they ever really were.
OK, so your kid is doing stupid things and being an all-around jerk most of the time. These are just actions and behaviors... and they are temporary. But, on the whole, it is not who our children are for the entirety of their existence.
On some level, we all kind of want to be the cool parent. You know what? Do it! Be the cool parent.
The thing is, truly being cool means standing your ground. It means having confidence in your convictions and holding fast to them. It means everyone knows what to expect from you and that you don't wear corduroy, argyle, or plaid pants.
At some point, people – which most parents are – believe that getting someone to like you means being amicable. This is really not the case. People don't, in general, like people they don't respect. The same goes for our teens. They really aren't going to like you if you're a pushover, do whatever they want, and play into whatever drama du-jour.
This is a great time to remember what we've been told throughout our parenting adventure: Kids need stability. Kids, even teens, actually crave stability and routine... and they're never going to admit it. Look back at what it means to be cool – stand your ground.
Don't let them just be jerks with no consequences... even if "consequences" is just being called an ass by their parent. ;-)
PS – About an hour later, she came out of her room, gave me a hug, and apologized for being a jerk. It only took her an hour to remember what I've been teaching her about apologizing when you do something wrong. We lived happily ever after.
Now, you can follow my shenanigans on Twitter.
Amy's Dog Blog
When you have kids, things you would never previously have entertained as being something that a decent human being should have to tolerate on a daily basis become par for the course, endlessly repeated until you are a shred of your former self.
These are the undignified things that should be left behind closed doors, and definitely never performed in public, but you often have no choice. With small babies and toddlers, you find yourself subjected to the most vile duties, that your younger self would have sneered at before running a mile from.
I'm talking about picking your baby’s nose; the embarrassment as you realise that the bad smell is coming from your kid, not the one they’re playing with; sniffing their bum to confirm; sucking a dummy that has fallen on a dusty floor; changing a stinking nappy on a narrow counter/toilet floor because there’s no baby-changing facilities; wiping dinner from the walls; absently eating leftover purees/fishfingers/smiley faces; washing mashed banana/bogeys/sick from your hair under the cold tap; getting up six times in the night; staying up until midnight making a Harry Potter /sheep/wise men costume, then them refusing to wear the costume and turning up to school/the play in their school uniform. It was endless.
Now I have two older children I don’t have to do those things; on the whole they are delightful, although their rooms still stink and there’s dirty washing everywhere and food still stuck to the walls, but that’s probably due more to my sluttish housekeeping than anything else. I’m a busy woman. Don’t judge me.
So once the more onerously visceral duties of small-child care were mercifully left behind, and they could clean up after themselves and no longer needed spoon-feeding, what did I do? Get a puppy. Then it all started again, but weirdly, on a grander and more repulsive scale. If I thought having a baby or small child was revolting and undignified enough, I had no idea what a puppy had in store for me.
Who but a dog owner or parent of a mini human would go out for a walk armed with poo bags/nappy bags, ready to scoop up whatever falls from their charge’s bum? At least with babies and toddlers it’s conveniently contained in a nappy; a dog just squats there (usually in front of the most manicured house as the owner is out trimming their topiary in the spring sunshine) and takes a dump. “Don’t mind me,” he’d cheerfully shout at them if he could speak, “She’ll get this.” And I do, of course, smiling all the while, me a mere portable pooper-scooper with the added bonus for the dog of also being a convenient food dispenser and expedient thrower of balls.
From the moment the eight-week old golden ball of fluff arrived at our house, I’ve spent hours sticking my fingers in his mouth to retrieve foreign objects, cleaned up his sick when the foreign objects I can’t get to quick enough get to his stomach, picked up endless poo, had my clothes ripped to shreds as he enthusiastically welcomed me home with his needle-sharp teeth and claws, regularly tramp back from a walk covered head to foot in mud, when I’d left the house looking like a normal human being, and spend my life apologising to people and their dogs as he tries to love them to death.
And where are my older, responsible children? My teenager and tweenager, who promised to walk the dog, feed him, pick up after him, so I wouldn’t have to? Nowhere to be seen, that’s where. They're not silly.
Vicki's Food Blog
Our cat is our baby substitute. As the kids grow older, we craved a warm creature to hold, nuzzle and to talk to in a silly voice. The man of the house said he didn't want a sh*tting, sofa scratching ball of fur in our home, but as soon as the tabby kitten slept on him he was smitten. We were all smitten with the kitten, and now at four years old he holds our attention and our love and our indulgence more than ever.
And so it was that I had a cat chat with my neighbour last night. She said that her cats had been eating cat treats that were like crack cocaine to them but it turned their urine to a sticky mulch that produced toffee-type lumps in their litter trays. My cat was whooshing around our legs as we talked and she told me to keep our feline away from them. A big campaign last year by cat owners with similar observations hasn't stopped them being sold. So for any cat lovers out there, please take a look at the ingredients in your cats' treats. If they like them too much banish them. If we're worried about the health of our families we should stay vigilant about all family members including the furry ones. Who'd have thought that a mum worrying all the time about what her kids eat and do, would now have to be anxious about her fluffy child. Do other people worry about their pets like this or am I just going mad?