We are in the process of watching our two adult children (they would either nod their heads or roll their eyes at this statement) grow into responsible adults. Our oldest has enough money saved from internships that she could pay for a semester of college, period. No questions asked.
My brother took his kids of an Iowa Hawkeye football game recently, and texted my youngest, wondering if she was in the stadium. She replied back that she had sold her ticket and was in the library studying for exams that following week. I about walked into a pole when I saw that! I showed it to my wife and her slacked jawed response said it all.
They are growing up in front of our eyes and it’s amazing to see. We’ve invested countless hours of tears, frustrations, meltdowns, and more to see them at this point. Our youngest, talking about the parent of one of her roommates, looked at us and said, “You guys were parents, the best parents possible.” This from the girl who told us to “let her live her life” as we followed her on her social media, asked her to call/text when she was leaving some place, and generally followed her to various events in high school.
The problem is, there are many parents who don’t feel this is necessary. They don’t follow their children because “it’s invading their privacy”. They don’t actively question who they are going out with because “they need their space”. They don’t call out the language they use because “it’s only things we say at home. My child wouldn’t say that in public.” They take their child’s word at face value when they get in trouble at school, finding the system, the teacher, the phone, all of those things to blame. Everything except the actions of their child.
Your child DOES watch you, listen to you, and is actively testing the limits that you’ll set. And if you aren’t showing them limits, if you aren’t giving them feedback (positive or negative) about their behaviors, if you feel crude and hateful language is acceptable at home, guess what, you are giving them permission to do it ANYWHERE! I’m not usually too judgey on this blog. I understand that we are all coming from different places in life and we do what we have to do just to get by. My daughters watched a lot of Dragon Tails growing up because sometimes, Mom and Dad need a break. There are times where we allowed stomping up to rooms, slamming of doors because that battle wasn’t worth it at the time. But that doesn’t mean we just quit parenting. It doesn’t mean that we accepted the language, the behaviors, the attitude of our daughters as “kids being kids”.
No, we parented. We fought the good fight because in the end, we want our daughter to be independent, strong, fierce women in a world that doesn’t always embrace those characteristics. We battled, trying to impart that idea that you can be yourself without giving up what you believe. We want our daughters to be outspoken, standing up for their beliefs, and having the courage to admit when they are wrong.
Yes, parenting is hard work and when you have a child, you sign on for all of it, the good, the bad, and the ugly. To look away at the tough parts, to shy away from them cheats them from the learning that takes place when a mistake is made. In the end, you grow from those mistakes, you find out more about yourself than you ever can constantly on auto-pilot or worse, ignoring the problems at hand.
Yes, we parented, and over the last month, we’ve begun to realize that our efforts are being rewarded with two talented, beautiful, and independent young women with the world in front of them. Not many things have been more rewarding than see that hard work paying off in their lives!