I’m Sick Of Being The Good Parent

Tween Tuesday

Welcome to Tween/Teen Tuesday at My Crazy Good Life! Today we’re talking about being the good parent. You know, the one who doesn’t want to be their kid’s best friend.

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I'm Sick Of Being The Good Parent

I held out on Michael playing Rated M video games for as long as I could. It got to the point that all of his friends were playing them and we had two choices:

1. Allow him to play Rated M games only at friend’s houses, which would cause Michael to never want to be home and his friends to never want to come over.

2. Allow him to play those games at home and keep an eye on him.

We chose #2, and the great guys at Game Stop helped us a lot–explaining which games had parental restriction settings and offering alternatives to Michael when a game didn’t have a parental restriction setting or when I deemed it wasn’t appropriate for him to play.

You could say we were forced into this decision by other parents.

Fast forward a few years. We’re still dealing with this, just in other forms.

Parents who bring their 13 year-old kids to the mall and drop them off to walk the mall alone for a few hours.

Parents who let their kids walk to the neighborhood park after dark. The same park where the local school drug dealer hangs out.

Parents who allow their kids to stay up all night long (literally) playing video games and surfing the web. Unsupervised.

Parents who allow their kids to drink soda with breakfast, eat pop tarts for lunch and have energy drinks with dinner.

We’re good parents. We spoil Michael a little (he has an iPhone), but not too much (he pays for half of the monthly bill).

The problem is that he can’t see this. When his friends have no chores and he spends his Saturday helping out around the house, it’s frustrating for him–and I understand why.

When he hears that his friends don’t have to pitch in for their cell phone bill or that their parents bought them the newest video game release “just because they wanted to,” he gets pretty bummed out that those things don’t happen here in his house. And I understand that, too.

Being the good parent is popular among adults. We get a lot of compliments from our peers and family but when you’re trying to cultivate a relationship with your child–a relationship that is based on being positive and supportive, being the good parent kind of sucks.

One day, he will understand why we make the decisions we do.

We hope.

We have hard choices to make as parents–do you stick to your true beliefs and risk alienating your kid among his peers? Or do you bend the rules that you feel strongly about because all the other parents are doing it?

Comments

  1. You are WAY nicer then I am…

    We don’t allow the kids to play M rated video games, with the understanding that Tim will be allowed soon once he shows some responsibility around the house. We agreed that while we know he plays them with his friends, we don’t want them playing them at home, my daughter does NOT need to be playing Halo, and I don’t want it around Leo :)

    We also realize that he, being 16, drinks what he wants soda wise when we are not around. We have even told him that we realize this, but that we will not buy him Mountain Dew or Coke, his body does not need it at all.

    It is hard, so many of my kids friends let their kids run the neighborhood, go do whatever they want whenever they want. Me…I want to know if the parents are home, are they going to BE home for the night and what the plans are. I want to know who you are hanging out with, I want to meet them. If I don’t, then you don’t.

    My job is to keep you safe, my job is to help you make the best choices not shove you out and let you make the wrong ones with no help. If after discussion you make the wrong one…hope you enjoyed yourself :)

    I am old school when it comes to my kids, yes they have bigger boundries then some of their friends do even with restrictions, but the world is a different place…I just want them safe.

    • It’s so tough, Kellyn. It sounds like you have a plan, though!
      We have given in a little more than we would have because we live so far out of town and Michael has access to only a few friends. We have also had a lot of discussions about the video game content and what is and isn’t appropriate. We’re trying, and keeping in mind that safety is most important.

  2. I made all those tough choices too, Becca and I’m glad that I did. Now that my kids are older, they are glad that they had boundaries and rules when their friends had none.

    Do what you feel is best for you and your family, which it sounds like you are doing already.

    • Oh I’m glad to hear that, Peg! This parenting thing only gets harder as they grow up – I’m not looking forward to the driving years. I can imagine that stress takes the cake.

  3. Don’t beat yourself up. You are an awesome parent and maybe if I did things a little bit differently, well, just maybe…

  4. Don’t bend your rules on the important stuff. I have no teenage parenting experience whatsoever, but have read a lot about this sort of thing. Will send you the info! Keep it up and don’t worry about the Mommy Guilt, you’d have it regardless of which direction you choose!

    • Nope, we stick to our guns with regard to the “big” stuff. It’s just frustrating that we look like the bad ones when we are the ones trying our hardest to keep the kids safe and gain their respect at the same time :-/

      I’d love the resources!!

  5. Oh goodness, this just frustrated me for the future. I have preschoolers boys and my fear of this getting worse in the future. Thank you for the insight and I will tuck all your feelings and frustrations in the back of my head and heart for the future. Why do bad parents make us who try to be good parents look so bad ?!? Good luck and someday in the future your boys will understand.

    • Oh no! I didn’t mean to frustrate you this far ahead of time :)

      We try to explain our reasoning to Michael the best we can, and we always tell him that we have the right to change our mind on any decision at any time without a reason – that has helped a bit. He’s a good kid, but is a little frustrated because he doesn’t have the leniency that his friends have.

      • I wonder who is the “Head Vampire” when it comes to this. Which parent thinks energy drinks and staying up all night playing violent video games is ok at this age. Seems like we all fall into the mommy guilt and a bit of peer pressure to come to a compromise for your 2 reasons listed above. Us “good parents” can’t be the minority.

  6. enjoyed reading this…but made me dread the teenage years. We have struggled with this since our daughter started kindergarten….maybe we sheltered her and if we are, is there any real harm in that??? I mean sheltering obviously for a 5-6 year old…we don;t see movies and watch teh cool things or play video games, etc. what I like is that you and your husband are on the same page about it, I think thats key here! :)

    • It’s tough, Kelly – I’m not lying. Nobody warns you about the Terrible Teens! We sheltered Michael a lot while he was little and some would say he’s pretty sheltered now.

      Being on the same page is so important. And when we aren’t we leave the room to talk so we always put on a united front for the kids.

    • Isn’t it, Allison? Some of Michael’s friends started at 6 – there were kids in Jack’s preschool class playing Call of Duty. It makes me nervous for what they’ll grow into later on.

      We have a school night video game ban too! And games are taken away completely until the next quarter if they get a C.

      The energy drinks – seriously. It’s constant. We let Michael try one once and he agreed they don’t taste good, but he still asks for them.

  7. Such a great post! We recently had to make the same decision about Rated M games. After thinking long and hard and researching the options for parental controls, I realized the the reason I was holding back had less to do with the level of appropriateness and more to do with me wanting to “win” this battle.

    I’d firmly staked my flag in the world of “no” and had quite publicly voiced my concerns about these sorts of games all the while what I was really doing was wrongly judging parents who had already given in.

    I had to deal with that prideful heart issue which was much bigger than the rating of any game.
    And all us momma’s know that those kinds are arguments that we have with ourselves are so much harder than the ones we have with our not so little, little boys!

    Thanks so much! Can’t wait to follow along with your blog.

    • Thanks, Heather!

      I had that same issue for a while – I still do, I think. Did you see how I explained that Michael only played when there are parental controls available? I guess that’s what we do – we don’t want to be judged too harshly.

      Thanks for visiting and for your comment. I look forward to chatting again!

  8. We are the wicked, evil parents that not only won’t let him stay up all night playing video games, he has a time limit per day (even in summer). We have gone so far as to explain quite frankly that when he plays more than the allotted time per day, he starts becoming a complete jerk (because he does) so for his good and the good of the world, his time is limited. LoL

    • Same here, Windy! Their mood changes when they are in front of any screen for too long!

      And we do the same – actually, his video game time is directly related to the amount of time he goes outside to play. And no video games at all during the school week.

      Mean, mean, mean.

  9. You are on the right track. Wide is the gate that leads to destruction. Loving your kids is different than being “nice.” Your son will have a choice someday to follow the path you show him, but right now, the best way to lead him is to live the way you want him to live. Teens are going to think their parents are unfair no matter how much you let them do. Stay strong. Blessings to your family.

    • Wide is the gate that leads to destruction. I like that.

      Thank you, James. Your comment made me feel better about this situation :)

  10. I remember those days as a teen in such a home. I now have 3 sons, (4, 2, and 4mo.) I will say that because of my parents sticking to their guns on issues, we are raising our boys against the tides as well. My dad used to quote, what one generation tolerates, the next embraces. What helped was spending time doimg thimgs as a family. we’d go camping and loved swimming in the river. We would play min. golf. Our family bought season passes to a theme park. We never walked the malls but we did wait in lines to ride the rattler. We would go to the movies and play board games. It seemed like we were too busy to notice and we never felt like we were missing out. No video games, no dating, no to a lot of things but…thinking back, we would wake every morning and read a chapter in Proverbs and several chapters of the Bible as a family and reading Proverbs everyday for many years, really does transform the mind. When we would see the things you talk about, we saw things with a different perspective. A ludely dressed teen reminded us immediately of the verse talking about a ring in a swine’s snout. Laziness reminded us of my verses. Being a wise or foolish person…etc. we would also pray together and that made a big difference. We did a lot of chores but we worked together as a family and didn’t mind since there is a time to work and a time to play or rest. We learned a LOT of life lessons while working with my dad and working together. I can see where the chores schedules, and personal disciplines prepared me for life and like I had an upper hand coming out of our home than many my age. Today,at 34 and with children of my own, I am even more grateful than I was then. I hope I could bit be of some encouragement to you and look forward to the same encouragement when our boys are older. Blessings.

    • Thank you for your comment! You did give me some encouragement about this. It can be overwhelming when you’re in the moment – it’s good to step away and remember what the big picture will look like–when they’re adults!

  11. I love your honesty in this post. My son has a few friends with very lax parents or who have much older siblings so they are exposed to a lot more. This makes it tricky for us at times too. We just try to give as much as we are comfortable with – and stop at anything which goes beyond that point.

  12. Agree with James. :) Unfortunately parents with some boundaries and morals in our day are the minority. Its easier to be overly permissive; makes sense. But not in the long run.

    Its hard to raise teenage boys in our society, but they are pushing against those boundaries to make sure they’re there. And that you’re there too. Deep down they appreciate it, they just don’t know it and they certainly don’t know how to show it.

    For us, more important that the video games and soda (though those are of concern too…) is respect. There is no eye-rolling, “I hate you”, or door slamming tolerated (and never has been) in our house. Its just not respectful and doesn’t lead to anything good. Not to say there isn’t whining and the occasional, “but that’s not fair”, but for the most part whether 99 out of 100 friends are doing the thing, they know not to even go there.

    You’ll never do this parenting thing perfectly, but they will respect you when you hold to your guns and are consistent with your standards. You do your best, pray for strength, and pick the hills you’re willing to die on.

    Two of the BEST books I’ve ever read about parenting boys were “Parenting Teens with Love & Logic” and “Making Children Mind Without Losing Yours” (and everything else by Kevin Leman ;)!

    Hang in there friend. You are an AMAZING mom!

    • We are on the same page–absolutely no eye rolling, mean comments or door slamming here. And it is good to remember that it’s more important than video game time or sodas.

      We tell them all the time that this is our first time being a parent, so we make mistakes too. I’m looking up those books now!

      Thank you :)

  13. If it makes you feel any better, when my kids started college, they had to take out loans to do so. Well, they saw how the other kids were having their tuitions and expenses paid for by parents and the kids didn’t take it seriously. Because my kids invested their own money and worked to make it happen,they valued their education seriously and didn’t slough off on any classes. They have learned to appreciate everything that comes their way because they know it takes work to get it!

  14. What a great post and thank you for voicing what many of us experience on a regular basis. I’m my tween’s parent, not her friend. While I really do want to her be happy, it’s not my job to give into everything. At least, that’s what I tell myself when she’s good and ticked. And you’re a nicer parent than I am, no iPhone here yet. Really, you rock and it sounds like your peers recognize (and we can all tell from your posts) that you have 2 great kids as a result of your awesome efforts.

  15. “Mom, can I sleep over? EVERYONE is staying!!!!”
    I look around… the pool is full of cheetos, the hostess’s parents are on their way to drunken oblivion, the noise level is rising.
    “Look around you, honey. Look at the kids whose parents are allowing them to stay. Look at the ones who are going home. Which do you choose?”

    We went home. Kids like rules… they like to bump up against them… if they are given a choice and a voice in most things they’ll be reasonable (eventually) about the dorky things you make them do. Though the other kids’ homes may be more enticing now, you are creating responsible adults… and the rest of us out here in the larger world thank you!!
    a/b

  16. I love that you are sharing this. I dread this one day. My 4 yo is already saying his friends have this or that!! He’s super smart and knows it, so I have no idea how we will deal with this. Sounds like you are doing a great job. I will say I thought my parents were way strict when I was a teen, but I am so grateful now for all the things they kept me in and out of!

  17. Your post title confused me because what you call a good parent I call a mean parent. I’m one of those mean moms who is strict. I’ve taught my daughters manners, respect and don’t allow them to do things just because their friends do it just like you. Good on you! Your son will grow up to be more responsible and know the real difference between right and wrong.

  18. It’s also hard being the good parent being in separate homes. I have to limit food treats and video games since I know when my son goes to his dads on the weekends it’s all junk and video games for 3 days straight. Certain tv shows are banned at our home because of inappropriate content even though my son knows I know he watches these things at his dads. I just hope that when he’s older he will understand the reasons for the rules. And that he will respect what I do to keep him healthy and safe. He’s only 7, so I’ve got a little while before I’m battling his friends as well. I can only do what I think is best I guess.

  19. We’re already running into this with our 6 year old. We require our son to do homework and chore every day after school. His best friend always rides his bike over to our house just a few minutes after he gets off the bus to ask if my son can play. Ugh! I’m not really excited for future battles about M video games, cell phones, and such.
    I think parents who prefer popularity with their kids over making and sticking with hard decisions are doing their kids a great disservice.

  20. Kids like rules. It’s his job to protest and try to separate and it’s your job to remember that these few years will pale in comparison to the rest of your life. You will have decades to look back on the middle school traumas you created by keeping your kid safe and showering him with loving care. Yes, the other kids are off and running, but what’s the destination?

    Michael is lucky to have you in his life. If he wants validation of this theory he can check in with my kids, who had the same complaints (“NO my money cannot be used on THAT video game”…. back when Mortal Combat was the machine of choice in the arcades.

    It’s not easy parenting at any age, but this is the most challenging, I think. How lucky we are to have you setting a standard <3
    a/b

  21. Having been the child of a good parent, the kind that screamed and cursed at my good parents because of all the “injustices” being done me, let me say that it works out. My parents are incredible, and I’d much rather have the solid, wonderful relationship with then that I do right now then have gotten along with them as a child and teen only to have resented them for eventually having to cut me off. Because this is what happens. At some point it goes too far, and the cool parents can’t afford to be cool anymore. Then entitlement causes those kids to flip out…and it’s all over.

    I think being a good parent will be harder for me than it was for my parents, because the world has become even more ridiculous. I think about my son (now 7mo) walking around town alone and it terrifies me…I know about the sickos of the world. I hope I can be a good parent without passing on fear or legalism. I think it can happen. And I’ll do it, looking forward to the day that he and I can talk about being a good parent to his kids.

  22. Hat tip to you, lady for being the strong parent and raising a strong, responsible child who’ll be a wonderful adult. If you lived in FL I’d want to have a play date! (Or have your very nice son babysit for mine.) Keep hanging in. You’re an inspiration to the rest of us to stay strong too.

  23. I can totally relate to this! Sometimes you “have” to let them do things just to fit in socially – against your better judgement. It’s very sad how many parents are that disengaged from their children that they just can’t be bothered to parent them. Your son already has a leg up in life that his peers don’t. You are teaching him how to take care of himself and the difference between right and wrong. I remember some music my parents didn’t want me listening to that I listened to anyway behind their backs. Just them disapproving of it did teach me something about right vs. wrong. I knew WHY they didn’t want me to hear that stuff, even if it was disappointing to me at the time. Kudos for being a REAL mom!

  24. I don’t let other parents dictate/influence how I raise my children. I also find it helpful to find like-minded parents who “train up their children” according to Biblical principles and we encourage one another…not hinder one another.

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