Thursday, November 3, 2011

Ask not what your parents can do for you...ask what you can do for your parents!

It's not always easy for me to watch my children growing up. It's bittersweet because even though I am incredibly proud of the people I see them becoming, I'm feel nostalgic for the sweet, cuddly toddlers they used to be. I find that I love each stage...especially after they pass through it. The teen years we are experiencing now aren't all bad. There are definite benefits, such as being able to send your teenaged son to the grocery store to buy milk!

I am proud of the man and woman that I can see my little boy and little girl becoming. They are strong and moral and smart. They make good choices. They're good kids. 

So, even though it sometimes makes me sad to see my sweet little babies...

turning into these confident, amazing almost-adults...

I'm OK with it. Really. Because, even though it's bittersweet, it's right. 

I'm proud of them. They don't drink or do drugs. They're not promiscuous. The Princess dresses modestly. They're honest and they have values and I trust them. They are good kids.

But, do you want to know what makes me really sad?

I was looking at some old class photos of The Boy's. from kindergarten and first grade. And as I gazed at those sweet, innocent little faces of children he has grown up with I realized that not all of those children have had the same story.

Just as children within the same family can turn out vastly different, so can children from the same school and the same class. The Boy began his school years at a very small, private school. He has known the same kids since pre-school and still attends high school with many of them. 

As I looked at those photos and gazed into those innocent little faces, I realized that I was looking into several faces of future promiscuity and alcohol and drug abuse - by the 9th or 10th grade. And that almost broke my heart.

I have watched these children grow up. I was room mom and did lunch duty and volunteered. I drove those children on field trips and helped make applesauce on Johnny Appleseed Day.  These are sweet children. They're not bad kids...but some of them are certainly making some bad choices.

I am so thankful that The Boy and The Princess are making good choices. Partly, I'm sure it's just luck. And partly, I'm sure it's a healthy dose of fear. Because my kids know two things. (1) I WILL find out and (2) when I do, their whole world will come screeching to a big, fat halt. Just like that.  

The Boy tells me stories of kids at his school who have been escorted home from parties drunk or stoned by the cops...and then a couple of weeks later the parents will give the child a brand new, and very expensive, car for their birthday. These kids all have the newest iphones and ipads and toys and gadgets.

It absolutely boggles my mind.

We are not those kind of parents.

We're the kind of parents that tell our children "no." Often.

We are the kind of parents that take privileges, such as cell phones and computers, away for poor grades or behavior or messy rooms. The kids think we are too strict. We've been told that we are mean.

We don't care.

I like to paraphrase John F. Kennedy when the kids complain that we are mean or old fashioned. I tell them, "Ask not what your parents can do for you...ask what YOU can do for your parents!" The kids don't seem to like that little saying quite as much as Mr. Wonderful and I do!

Oh well. So far, that philosophy (plus a lot of luck...and a little fear) seems to be working out. Don't misunderstand - we have no idea what we're doing. We're winging it. Completely. I'm certainly not trying to tell anyone else how to raise their children. We've been lucky. But I do think our job is to be their parents...not to try to be their friend.

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