Click Here to Listen to the Podcast of “Being the Unpopular Parents”
If you were to ask my kids—we aren’t cool parents at times. Well—take that back—we are cool parents as long as the kids are getting to do something they like. But once we enforce certain boundaries, we seem to cross the threshold from the “cool” status to the “uncool” status. If you are a parent, this may seem all too familiar. Okay, so my question is which parents are cool parents, all the time?
“Oh my friend Tommy’s parents let him do this and do that.” “My friend Jane’s parents let her go here and there, by herself!” “Everyone else’s parents are letting them jump off the bridge into shallow water, I can’t believe you won’t let me do it! You are so UNCOOL!” Apparently Tommy, Jane and everyone else have very cool parents, who are beating my husband and I in the popularity poll these days. At times, if you listened to my children grumble about this or that—you’d think the parent manual they forgot to leave at our doorstep when we had the first kid was stolen by the very same child, memorized, mastered and thrown back at us as if, “DUH! You didn’t know that?”
I faintly remember going through this with my Mom. Faintly, because I think I figured out kind of quickly there were just certain things I was not going to be able to do. Not at first and not all at once. It wasn’t worth the hassle of asking to jump off the bridge and I never was one to push a boundary that I knew had an electric fence around it. Instead, I decided to slowly disarm the electric boundary through trust.
I think somewhere down the road of life, I figured out that if I played by the rules and did what was expected of me without asking, I would eventually be given a bit more space—a little more territory—the boundaries would eventually expand. And in fact, I figured correctly. Do my chores without being reminded , complete my homework on time, get good grades in school, and in return I could ask for the overnight PJ parties—or go to one—or hang out til 1AM with friends in high school. Yes—I was allowed a later curfew. I had to have my ducks in a row—homework completed, chores done, tests passed, etc. and I had to phone home at certain intervals or I wasn't given the privilege again. By following the rules, I established a relationship of trust that enabled me to continue those certain privileges.
Instilling these same values in our children has become essential to their understanding that their boundaries are a bit more controlled until these same things are achieved. And for the most part—they get it. However, there is a learning curve involved and every time we round that bend—we become very ‘uncool’ and somewhat ‘unpopular’. We get compared to the Tommy’s and the Jane’s and of course, to everyone else. In some respects, we find it amusing—because we know what they are going through and we feel for them---but not so much so that we don’t stand firm in enforcing the rules and remaining ‘uncool’ when need be.. I realize a good foundation is necessary—its healthy and sometimes it just so cool to be the unpopular parents.
What say You??