I have borderline smothered my kids because, according to them, I am overprotective to a fault. So what?
Lately I’ve been observing people more than usual. I’ve got to tell you, I am really disheartened by the lack of respect, lack of courtesy, lack of common sense, and lack of judgement people show these days. Especially (but not only) kids! It is truly appalling to me that kids today are so selfish, so unaware, so uncaring. If I had a dime for every movie I’ve had to sit through in a theater with obnoxious, heckling teenagers, I could buy a new car! Seriously – between the random yells and dramatically loud laughs to the open cell phones during the movie, I could just scream. Is it just me? How about those teenage drivers? Parents – PLEASE tell your kids not to text and drive and please teach them about courtesy.
When my kids were young and got their first cell phones, we had discussions about phone etiquette. “Kids, when you talk on a cell phone, sometimes you are speaking louder than you think. You should always be aware of your volume and remember, no one else cares about your conversation, so keep it private. Also, it’s rude to have loud discussions in certain environments, like in a restaurant, for example. When you’re in a movie theater be sure to keep your phone on silent and put away. When you open it to text, the screen light is very bright and is distracting to the people behind you. They paid just as much for their ticket as you did and should be able to enjoy the movie without distraction.” Yes, I really had this conversation with my kids.
Then we have the adults. This is probably more frustrating to me because I have expectations that adults should be more courteous. Silly me, I know. To the lady shoppers who feels compelled to stop in the center of the aisle, knowing full well there is someone directly behind you, PLEASE PULL OVER AND PARK IT. Even worse is when I say “Excuse me”, in the sweetest tone possible, only to be glared at as if I were the one being inconsiderate. Let’s not forget the family or group of friends who decide to walk shoulder to shoulder through the mall, taking up the entire width of the hall. Oh yea, and of course they are walking at a snail’s pace. God forbid I say “Excuse me”, in the sweetest tone possible, and try to squeeze between them. I actually had someone shout, “RUDE” when I did this recently. I’m sorry, but when did saying “Excuse me” become rude??
Not to say that I’m perfect, I’m not. I’m a heck of lot more courteous then most people I see, and that’s the truth!
My kids aren’t perfect either. But when I look at them and their behaviors compared to others their age (and older!), I am impressed with myself. They can call it overprotective all day but in reality, I raised them well. I gave them rules. I gave them guidance. I gave them consequences for bad decisions. Even in a broken home I gave them structure. I sat with them each and every night before bed and had conversations, told them stories and prayed with them.
I’m also very close to my kids. I know, some people believe that you shouldn’t be “friends” with your kids because you will lose authority with them. To those people I say “bull”. I like my kids. I genuinely like who they are. I like their personalities, humor, compassion, honesty…just to name a few. They are not those kids you will see in public and be disgusted by. They are well-behaved, respectful, courteous. I’ve always told them to behave as if I were watching, make me proud even though I can’t see you. I can’t tell you how many times parents of their friends would comment on their behavior after having them over. One parent actually said, “My daughter was jumping on her bed and asked your daughter to jump with her. Your daughter would not do it. I walked in the room and told her it was fine and that she wouldn’t be in any trouble for it and she said, ‘My rules for behavior at home are the same when I’m at someone else’s house’.” That makes a mother proud. Don’t get the wrong impression though, my kids aren’t stuffy, no fun, prissy, can do no wrong kids. They have made bad decisions and choices in their young lives but I’ve been there through them all.
So here’s my plea to all the parents out there. Smother your kids a little bit. I know who my kid’s friends are, I’m on their facebook pages, I let them be their own persons but I continually give them guidance. At 18 and 15 my kids aren’t babies anymore, but does my 18 year old daughter go out all night and have no rules because she’s an “adult” now? No. She goes out with her friends and is sometimes not home until 2:00am. BUT – I get a text when she gets to wherever she went, I get a “checking in” text a couple hours into the night, I get a text if they stop to grab food, and I get a text when she’s home safely. Her and her friends are always excited to tell me about the events of the evening the next morning. I hear about the drama, who hooked up with who, what everyone wore, etc. I know where she is and who is with. Yes – I smother her.
That being said I can tell you that my daughter adores me. She looks up to me, she respects me, oh…and guess what else. She likes me. She’s the girl who goes to a friend’s house to spend the night and calls me to say, “Mom, would it be okay if I had a beer with my friends? We aren’t going anywhere and I’ll be responsible.” If I say no, she doesn’t. No begging, no attitude. Just a simple, “Yes ma’am”. If I say yes, I know that she will be responsible. She could be off in another state in college and going to all kinds of parties, getting hammered like a lot of her friends have been doing for years, but she’s not. So if she is responsible enough to call me before engaging, I can say yes once in a while. The response I get from her after saying yes is, “Thank you, I’ll be responsible and will check in with you in a couple of hours.” I don’t condone drinking under age and I’m sure some of you think that’s just bad parenting. You can think that, it’s okay. Your kids are doing it too, just not telling you.
My son is a different story. He’s not as social as his sister, so I don’t smother him as much (he would disagree with that statement). He goes to school, comes home and plays his video games and once in a while will have a friend over or go off with one. He has just a handful of friends he socializes with so it’s easy for me to know what he’s doing. Every blue moon he goes to the mall with friends. I say the same thing to him every time. He usually rolls his eyes and says, “I know mom.”, but I say it anyway. “Cyrus, behave. Be respectful of the other people at the mall and do not act like a hooligan. You’re a good kid so behave that way. Have fun without being obnoxious.” Does he behave every time? I’d like to believe he does.
The moral of the story and the two points I’m trying to make are this. First – I wish parents would parent. I wish that we could all teach our children about respect and courtesy. My children have never said, “I hate you” to me – not even as toddlers. They tell me they love me every time they hang up the phone, anytime they leave the house, and every night before they go to bed. I still “tuck them in”, so to speak. I go into their rooms, talk for a few minutes, do prayers, and kiss them goodnight. They are respectful and don’t talk back. When I ask them to do something, they don’t hesitate to do it. They hug me and watch movies with me, they tell me about their day and cry on my shoulder when they’ve needed to. I parent – that’s what I do.
Secondly and finally, I wish we would all just stop, take a look around and make sure that whatever it is we are doing, wherever we are, that we are aware of the people around us. I wish we think about our actions, the faces we make, the tone of our voice. I wish we would get the hell off our high horses, become just a little bit humble, lose the entitlement attitude and stop judging. Let’s go out of our way to be nice, be respectful, be courteous. Who’s in?
I hope I’m not the only one.