Jul 29, 2014
One of the recurring struggles I have as a father is the battle over doing what is right vs. doing what is easy when it comes to my children. Sometimes with all that is going on in our lives, it would SEEM to be much easier just to say “okay”, or give in to a “questionable” request, to say “yes” when you want to say “no”, or vice versa. Our world is crazier than ever with potential snares around every corner. Plus, our children are experts at “working” us parents to get what they want. They have been at it since birth! They know EXACTLY what to say or do to push our buttons and to get their way. The question is…do we have what it takes as parents to withstand our children’s advance manipulation strategies and stay focused on what’s important, the well being of our children?
The decisions were much easier for me when my children were younger. Most requests were limited to doing things in or near my home. I had a built in comfort zone of knowing my children were always nearby and never among strangers without supervision. As they grew older and became more independent, they request grew harder for me to agree to as they began to get more freedom and go more places. Basically, they are growing up.
If it were up to me I’d like to oversee every single thing my children do. But, as they grow they earn more and more freedom, and the responsibility with that freedom grows as well.
Another HUGE issue is the double standard parents use to raise sons and daughters. When my son was fifteen and wanted to hang out with his friends at the ball game I generally wanted to know who he was with, who was the responsible parent supervising if I wasn’t around, and when he would need me to pick him up.
Now that my daughter is fifteen (and looks like she is eighteen, Lord help me), simple requests to go somewhere or do something require MILLIONS of questions to be answered before I feel comfortable giving her an answer like:
- Will there be boys there?
- If yes, who are they?
- How old are they?
- Have I met them?
- Did I like them when I met them?
- Where are you going?
- Is this place generally safe?
- Who are you going with? (This is usually one or more other girls, as they travel in packs)
- Have I met them?
- Did I like them?
- Have I met their parents?
- Did I like them?
- Are they responsible people?
- Do they have the same standards as your mother and I?
- How are you getting there?
- Is it a parent driving or another teen?
- If teen, what kind of vehicle do they have?
- Do they look sane?
- What are you wearing?
- Is it appropriate?
- HOW MANY boys will be attracted by your appearance (asked and answered silently)
- When are you coming home?
- Am I picking you up? Because I can…
- Will there be any boys there?
- Why are you going?
- Can’t you just stay home with me?
I never had to worry about all of this with my son. Then again, my son doesn’t look like a SI Swimsuit model…
It’s at this point, the point where I consider saying “no” to said request, where I must be ready to gird my loins and prepare for battle with a child who could run a small country since the age of six. My stock, kneejerk reaction answer is always “no”. Period. Regardless if she asking to go out with friends or to the mailbox. No. NO. No sireee Bob. It’s only after I get the five “W’s” answered am I able to process the request. Who, what, when, where, and why. Just the facts ma’am.
At this point the tension starts to rise as she realizes there is a chance she may not be able to get the desired response from her daddy.
I typically fight off her fiery darts like:
- Everyone is going (old reliable)
- You let (my son) Ryan do it. (True. A real double standard here. But Ryan was wormy at this age and couldn’t get pregnant)
- You always say no. (Not true. I only say no when you ask to leave the house)
- You’re ruining my life! (Mostly said when I approach her friends in public and talk to them or like them on facebook)
This can be followed by:
- The silent treatment.
- Stomping while walking through the house.
- Barricaded up in her room.
- Screaming into a pillow.
- Throwing stuffed animals about her room.
- Talking about me (muffled through the walls)
And the dreaded…
It’s important that parents stay united. If she separates one of you and gets you on her side or to agree to anyone of her complaints…you’re doomed. Typically, after all of the facts are discovered and all of the questions are answered, I come to a decision. I say ‘typically” because sometimes I say nothing and hope she changes her mind and forgets about it altogether. (I hated stalling when I wrestled in High School. Now I am an expert at it)
Most of the time I do what I believe is right for my daughter and let the chips fall where they may…
It’s my job to raise her, protect her, discipline her, and bless her. I’m her father.
It’s not my job to make her happy or to make sure she is not bored. I’m not the entertainment director on a cruise.
It’s tough being a father sometimes, but I’m the only one she’s got. We can be friends when she grows up, has a child and comes to me for advice when they become teenagers.