I’ve been thinking about life as a parent. When my kids were young, I never minded the late-night bottles or diaper changes. I never minded dropping them off at school or practice. As they got older, I was fine too waiting up for the car to pull in and for them to get home from wherever they were.
What bothered me? The things that have bothered me most about parenting were, er, well, the other parents. Oh, I need to be clear, we learned so much from other parents. Many were a godsend, helping us out when we needed it the most. I can think of countless neighbors and school friends who we met along the journey. They were angels in our lives when we needed them the most. They’ve become lifelong friends and for that we’ll be eternally grateful. But the outliers, now they were enough to send any normal parent over the edge. Here’s what I’m talking about:
–The parents who yell at their kids or the coaches from the sidelines or criticize the volunteer umpires and referees.
–The parent-coaches who patrol the sidelines like they’re the second coming of legendary Green Bay Packer Coach Vince Lombardi and focus more on their own win-loss record than teaching the fundamentals and letting the kids have fun.
–The stay-at-home moms and dads who gossip and put down the parents who work and the moms and dad who work and put down the ones who don’t. We all have to make the decision that’s best for our family. I never understand criticizing someone else who’s simply trying to make the best choice they can for their family.
–The parents who turn the game of “keeping up with the Jones” into a knife fight. You got a shiny new Mercedes, awesome for you. You got your kid the latest and greatest iPhone, that’s great too. But don’t use it as a weapon to make my kid feel bad.
–The parents who use my kid’s good grades or accomplishment to embarrass and motivate their own kids. My kids didn’t need that, your kids certainly didn’t need that kind of pressure and bullying. Just stop.
–The parents and people at large who talk badly about kids nowadays. Yes, life is different today than it was back in the day, kids don’t have some of the same challenges that we had. At the same time, though, we certainly didn’t have to deal with social media, bullying, and societal pressures to the level that kids now face. It’s a different world. Give them a break. (Plus, we hated when our parents did that to us.)
A wise person once said “different stroke for different folks.” I guess that applies to parenting too.