It’s cold outside these days. Damn cold. So cold that walking to the bus or waiting for the train – without gloves or a hat – can be problematic.
But there’s my twenty-year-old son, running out the door with barely a coat on, no boots. To him, winter is only a suggestion. The minus-thirty-degree temperatures are NOT real, until he comes back and says that he nearly froze to death getting to school. “What did I tell you? You should’ve dressed warmer.” I say this hoping that next time he’ll remember. He doesn’t.
It makes me think, does giving advice even work? Most people just do what they feel like doing anyway, doesn’t matter what anyone else says. Sometimes, they get frostbite. For my son, it may take his hands turning black for him to remember to wear gloves.
Of course, as a parent, there are times when I’m going to put my foot down. There are times when I’m going to say my peace goddammit, when I’m going to bloody well tell those rambunctious and sometimes space cadet children to stop throwing the exercise ball around in the living room, that they are going to break something (else).
I’m also going to continue to say things like “you should clean your room before the ants invade, maybe picking your nose and eating it in public is not the best idea, make sure you use protection, I’m not ready to be a grandma just yet” on a pretty regular basis. Sometimes, they’ll listen, and sometimes they won’t, and then we’ll have to get a pregnancy test from the drugstore. At least, they are not afraid to tell me when they screw up.
Apart from an unwanted baby, these are just little things. Yes, there’s getting a “D” as your final grade in first year sociology – which is pretty hard to do unless you just didn’t study at all – and then there’s real suffering.
There are people who are homeless, or who are addicted to drugs, or who are living in abusive relationships – people whose lives are in the proverbial “shitter”. It sucks, especially if it’s someone you know or care about.
So how can I make sure that bad things don’t happen to the people in my family? I think the answer is clear – I can’t. I figure the most I can do is to be there for support, and to set a good example, hoping (and praying) that it takes hold at some point.
No doubt, the hardest part as a parent is watching your child make bad decisions, things you know are NOT going to turn out well. Why can’t I put them on leashes like I did when they were little? Just kidding, I never did that. I only dreamt about it frequently. It was more like, “Stay in the wagon. Stay in the wagon. I told you to STAY in the wagon.”
As my kids move further into adulthood, I know it’ll be hard. I’ll have to bite my tongue quite often. I should start practicing now…
When I hear, “I don’t know what to do, Mom. All the snow and slush have ruined my new canvas Polo shoes.”
Instead of saying, “Maybe you should’ve worn boots, like what where you thinking?” I’ll be smarter, and I’ll just say, “That’s unfortunate,” and then I’ll run out the door before Charles can ask for money to buy a new pair. That unnecessary $100 expenditure is his responsibility.
In the future, I can see myself uttering these words though, “I’ll babysit, but only for two days at a time – one sleepover per month MAX – and if you have any more than four kids and you bring them over, I’m leaving them ALL with your father and I’m going to the library for eight hours – alone, no phone, no cares, just me, my laptop, and a few Ryan Gosling DVD’s.” That should teach them.
Effectively Parenting Teens: Leading By Example
Nobody Wants Advice Phil Simborg nails it!