Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Guidelines for the Uncool Parent

I'm totally uncool.  And I'm cool with that. 

As much as my teenager hates it, I'm not one of those whose kids get by with a whole lot.  I watch the news and my heart breaks when I hear about the teenagers who die as a result of their own poor judgement and I ache for those left behind to mourn.  Goodness only knows the news has been full of these stories recently.  God willing, I will never wear those shoes.  

I have plenty to say about being the uncool parent.  In my opinion, it is totally cool to be uncool.  It is okay to be the parent who is always lurking in the background, keeping an eye on things.  'Stalking' my kids is not only okay, it's my job.  And maybe, just maybe, it will help keep them safe.  In today's world there are plenty of things to cause a parent to worry.  It pays to be vigilant.

I've been a parent for more than 29 years and I still have a teenager and a 10 year old living under my roof.  Over the years I have witnessed plenty of parenting styles and I've had to adapt my own to fit various circumstances.  It's okay, I'm flexible like that.  To an extent.  ;)  But in these changing times there needs to be more black and white and less gray area.  And we, as parents, need to stop judging each other for the way we choose to parent our own children.  Don't judge me and I won't judge you.  But if you're interested, here are my ground rules:

1.  As a parent, you CANNOT be 'too involved' when it comes to knowing where your kids are and with whom.  Right now they should be honing their decision making skills with your assistance, not turned loose to do as they please.  They'll have years of adulthood to exhibit their independence. 

2.  It is never wrong to ASK QUESTIONS or to expect your child to check in/stay in touch.  And when you call their cell phone and they don't answer, there SHOULD be consequences! 

3.  Kids are going to fib and they're going to make poor decisions.  It's a matter of fact because they must test the limits from time to time. Life is a learning process and no matter how wonderful you know your kids to be, there will come a time when they feel the need.  My kids are awesome but I would be the one fibbing if I didn't admit that I have indeed caught them telling a little white lie in the past.  So far it hasn't been anything horrible, but there were indeed consequences.  Friends and classmates who are willing to push the envelope can be very convincing creatures.  When it comes to your kids, question anything that sounds fishy.  Talk to other parents.  Check out their stories. 

4.  It's much better to be looked upon as a meddling parent and to be called 'overprotective' and 'smothering' than to lose a child.  Call me all the names you want.  As long as my kids are still here, still living and learning and growing, I can live with your name-calling and finger-pointing.  Your opinion of me isn't nearly as important to me as the safety and well being of my kids. 

5.  I'm okay with not being the 'cool parent'.  I will not knowingly allow ignorant behavior to take place among my kids and their friends.  Having fun is one thing.  Doing things that can cause harm is another.  And if by any chance you happen to be one of those 'cool parents', please do not take it upon yourself to make your 'cool choices' for my kids as well as your own.  Don't allow them to drink at your house.  Do not allow them to take part in promiscuous, questionable or illegal behavior because you allow your child to do so.  This is not your choice to make so do not take it upon yourself.  Just like there would be consequences for my child, there would also be consequences for you. Promise.

6.  Stalk their Twitter, FB and other social media accounts.  Stalk their friends' accounts.  You will learn SO MUCH.  Trust me. 

I could probably go on about this for days, but that pretty much covers the basics.  So go on out there and be uncool.  And be proud of it.  Not in your face, embarrassingly proud, but you know what I mean.  ;)