Don’t have kids if you’re not ready to value, enrich, trust, and protect them (especially from yourselves). Let me explain.
As a parent, your main priority should be your children. Let me be clear, this applies to BOTH the fathers and mothers out there (because we are long past the era where women were required to look after the kids)! This means that you better be able to drop everything in your life to attend your child’s chorus concert. You better drop everything to take your child to their first vacation. You better drop everything to protect your child if they’re getting bullied or harassed. You better drop everything to go to your child’s back-to-school night and adore all the crafts they made for you. You better drop everything to help your child grieve during a breakup, failing grade, or just a bad phase in general. You better drop and keep dropping every time your child needs you.
We, as your children, are needy. We know, but that’s what you signed up for when you chose to tackle the idea of parenting. You’re literally bringing an entire new life, specimen, creature onto this planet, so you need to do a fair share of work to bring the most beautiful experience for us.
The way you parent one of your children may not be the same way you should parent your other child because it just doesn’t work for both of them. The way your parents raised you does not always work for the way you should raise your children, so stop acting like since you were treated and taught xyz principles, then you HAVE to impose the same principles and lectures to your children. Yes, some of the principles are worthy of getting passed on, but do not base your entire parenting style on the way you were raised! Understand your children to the most microscopic core and understand what kind of parent they need.
The way you treat your child and the environment you create for your child in these formative years are crucial. We only get one childhood and it is your job, as parents, to make it the most memorable times of our lives, so that we could reminisce about it years later. Don’t make our childhoods something we want to erase from our memories because of your negligence, ignorance, and carelessness. We hear everything. We listen to everything. We react to everything. Every argument you have with your spouse, we internalize. Every scolding, we internalize. Every cry, we internalize. We will always remember the negative that you bring into our lives, and we know it’s inevitable to have some negativity in our lives, but at least work to outweigh all the negative with the positive.
For example, say your child has a health condition and is obese as a result. Your friends and family judge your child’s weight, regardless of whether or not they know your child’s health condition, and pass inexcusable comments. You let their crap get into your head and conclude that society is correct and that your child is ugly because he/she is obese. You proceed to nag your child to reduce weight because you’re afraid of society’s remarks. This is a classic example of parents protecting themselves, instead of protecting their children. Let this statement sink in.
For example, if one of your loved ones dies, say a parent, friend, aunt, you’re allowed to grieve. You should grieve, but don’t burden your child with your grievance. Deal with your grief in your own way- talk to your friends, your spouse, your family members to get the help and support you need to recover. Don’t expect your child to be there for you as your friend, spouse, or family member would. I say this because some children just don’t know how to react when their parents are grieving because we have never seen you like that, so we let you handle it your own way and just retract. In this case, please don’t use your grief to force us to be there for you when we don’t even know how to cope with your grief.
Don’t have that “I-am-your-parent-so-I’m-always-right” attitude. You’re not. No one ever is, so do away with that parental arrogance. Children are always expected to understand why the parent is scolding us, why we got grounded, why we can’t do something, why you’re reacting the way you are. Why can’t you, as the adults, take a minute to understand where we’re coming from as well? Isn’t a relationship supposed to include work from both parties? Doesn’t this mean that parents should also pitch into the parent-child relationship?
It may not be physical adversities like your generation has faced- whether it be walking miles to school, not having a phone, living in small houses, etc. Today’s youth face a lot more mental adversities. Every breakup, every grade, every friendship affects us to the core (it affects some more than others, but it does affect us to some degree). Educate yourself on the signs of mental health conditions. Notice these signs in your children. Lend a hand and be respectful of the boundaries set by your child. If he/she doesn’t want to share their problems or issues with you, then sure nag them A LITTLE and if the response is the same, then offer them someone else who could help or even simply asking them for what they need could be the best option as well.
We know being a parent is tough- you have to balance your professional life with your personal life, but you guys are the people that we trust (or should trust) the most in this world, so please just take some time to understand us. We love you for all that you have done for us and given us, but we just request you to delve deeper and connect with us better.
For all you parents that are able to learn and adapt and change, thank you.