Friday, January 6, 2012
The JackA$$ Parent
Kids prefer the "cool" parent and are annoyed to strongly antagonistic toward the Jerk parent. Therefore most parents would like to be the "cool" parent, and sometimes the Jerk parent can pull off being the "cool" parent for a limited amount of time.
Strive to be the "cool" parent.
How can you tell whether or not you will be the cool parent? I believe that clues to your later parenting skills show up during your childhood to teenage years and even into adult pre- parent years.
For example, if you and your friends were about to go swing on a gate, okay, I see I have to explain swinging on a gate. Back when I was a kid, there were gates here and there among the empty lots that made up our lives. Some were gates from defunct, small family farms and those were useless for swinging on. They were usually made of wood and wire, not balanced, and usually hung one end into the dirt that once made up the driveway. They took a ton of pushing and prodding to move and were more effort than what they were worth to get any kind of a ride.
Then there were the gates that once closed on the front yards of a family home. They were usually made of wood planks placed next to each other and secured by a cross beam top and bottom to keep everything sturdy and secure. They were meant to be secure and last a long time and they were perfect to stand on, push off with a foot and ride that short arc until the latch slammed into the post that completed the doorway with a resounding CLANG! and a bump that told you that the ride was over and it was time to move the gate back to it's first position for another ride. The really good kids, of which I wasn't, could get a toe hold on either side of the gate and get a "swing" from side to side. Except, that usually gave you a ride into the thorny remains of the rosebush that once graced those gates.
It got to the point that I enjoyed "swinging" so much that I once "swung" on the gate of a neighbor's house that was beautifully balanced, gave a great, smooth ride, but the problem was the house wasn't vacant.
"Hey you kid! Stop swinging on my gate!"
And I stopped, because I was essentially a good kid that really hated to be yelled at.
So, if your first reaction to swinging on a gate was to check for splinters or rusty nails, instead of yelling "Yippie! Another gate to swing on!" I think that shows a predisposition to be the Jerk parent instead of the Cool parent.
Or, when taking your younger siblings to the beach during summer vacation, you made sure they were all coated in suntan lotion, and then as a group went searching for sea shells and then building a sandcastle instead of yelling "Only go out into water up to your knees. We'll meet back here at 3." I think you are showing signs of being the Jerk parent in the future instead of being the Cool parent.
I am ............ sad to say, the Jerk parent.
I've been parenting for 30 something years now, so I've had lots of experience of parenting different age groups. I'm parenting adults, new adults, teenagers and a pre- teen. The hardest to parent is the new adult. The pre-teen still is fooled into thinking I am a saint straight from heaven meant to parent her, the teenagers are going through the stages of oh-my-gosh-this-woman-knows-nothing-who thought-it-was-a-good-idea-of putting-her-in-charge-of-cats-let-alone-humans? to coming out the other side thinking not-as-dumb-as-I-thought-fairly-benevolent. But then there is the new adult,
he doesn't think I am all that dumb, but pretty naive. He's benevolent toward me.
He, like everyone else in this house, has a curfew. I know a lot of cool parents are sucking in their breaths and thinking "oooo,hooo. An adult with a curfew. Not good." But I figure it this way, I am, who I am. I need my front door locked and all inhabitants accounted for before I can go to sleep for the night. I'm not making any adult live here, all adults are free to live where they can afford. But for me, this is a house rule.
So the adult missed curfew, and I stayed up another hour waiting. Now, I am good about missing curfew up until a half an hour. After that, I start to get nervous.
My dear husband is saying "Honey, he's fine, you need to go to bed."
Now we've been married long enough that I am not going to snap at my beloved for something he says unless it's reaaaaaaaaalllly bad. In Nate's mind, Bart is fine. In my mind, how do I know he isn't lost from coming home from a particularly tricky location? How do I know that the truck hasn't broken down?
I text him. "You are SERIOUSLY past curfew."
Another hour. I call his cell phone. It gets answered by his voicemail. I leave a message about wanting to go to bed, please call me.
I wait another half hour. I call him get voicemail. Call him again, get voicemail. Call him, get voice mail. Call him and tell him on his voicemail that if he isn't home by the hour, I will then call the police to find him.
Jerky thing to do, right? Didn't I say I am the Jerk parent? Right?
He was home before the hour, and it ended up that his Android phone battery had died before my constant calling of his voice mail.
"Pretty good thing I got home before the hour huh?" Bart grinned before telling me about his night.
Yeah, because I would have called the police.
We both knew I would have.