Let’s admit it: kids are very hard work! They cry all night, get sick all the time, and demand every moment of your attention! Babies cry all night and are 100% dependent. Toddlers and young children must be supervised almost every minute as they will get into everything they’re not supposed to. Teenagers are trying to find themselves and often make poor choices or rebel if not properly guided. Kids are a 24/7 job 365 days a week. There’s no denying parenthood is one of the hardest jobs there is! No parent can be there 24/7 either. Kids get into stuff, walls get drawn on, they will have some trips to the E.R. That’s just part of having kids. Parents are human and make mistakes, they get too loud, lose their temper sometimes, forget things etc…
The issue is however, our society has gone too far the other way. While there is no perfect parent, many now refuse to admit their mistakes and feel any guilt over what they know to have done wrong. Instead of improving on their mistakes, and vowing to do better in the future, such as yelling less, or using kinder words, they will go onto parenting forums and read articles all about not feeling “guilty” and “taking it one day at a time” and being “good enough”. This is done under the guise of the obvious: no parent is perfect, and not getting too worked up on the small mistakes. However, what is really being said is “Feeling guilt over a valid mistake is to be avoided as it’s inconvenient, and being just good enough as a parent is okay. Don’t bother with any personal growth or effort to strive to be the best parent you can be. Just settle for mediocrity.” While no parent will ever be perfect, in my family, I was taught to be the best person you can be. To do your best. Parents should strive to be the best parent they can be. If they mess up then admit it and apologize and commit to growing as a parent and doing better next time.
Mistakes such as yelling when you shouldn’t, giving in to anger, and saying hurtful words should not be excused! We don’t excuse that behavior from our children, who are younger and (hopefully) less mature, yet we give ourselves tons of excuses through parenting article after parenting article on why we shouldn’t feel guilt over having done wrong. Why are we in a society as parents where we can hold our children to a standard of behavioral and emotional perfection “or else”, yet excuse every mistake we make? When you yell, you ought to apologize and owe up to it with your kids, or else they learn yelling and disrespect is how to solve conflict, especially towards people younger and less powerful than themselves. Trying to buy off the “mommy guilt” shows just how small a person you are! Being “just good enough” is a slippery slope into skirting the line of abusive behavior when “just good enough” turns into yelling “you stupid brats!” instead of “I wish you were never born!”… The temptation to lower the bar every time a harder challenge arises with it’s “just good enough” as an excuse is too strong. My parents never yelled at me. They may have spoken sternly at times, yes, or raised their voice slightly, but never actually YELLED AT THE TOP OF THEIR LUNGS!!! I was taught that behavior is dysfunctional and was not done in our family. If we could do it, and my family is not any more “perfect” than yours, why can’t you strive to stop yelling too?
Another appalling example of this attitude of “just good enough” are all the numerous articles out there about not feeling guilty for spending less time with the kids, or spending money on luxuries for yourself versus your kids such as mommy’s spa day vs. your child’s field trip. In my family, the kids came first. Always. While my parents didn’t spend literally every waking moment devoted solely to me, both my mom and dad always made time for me even if it was inconvenient for them. Because that’s what you do when you bring a child into this world. My dad’s dad came home from working a 12+ hour day in a factory but instead of going straight to bed, he would stay up and spend time with my dad and talk to show he was in his children’s lives. Now however, I read article after article on not feeling guilty when you shove your kid off on nannies and babysitters and daycare for the majority of the day not only so you can work to support the household mind you, but so mommy can go to her spa trip, or daddy out golfing all week! Or even just being home but not focusing on your own children! While a healthy balance can be reached between parenthood and hobbies and time with your spouse, the kids should come first. That doesn’t mean you can never have a moment to yourself, or go out on a date night, or have a hobby. My parents did all of the above! What putting your kids first means in this case is if there’s no one to properly care for your children, or they need you for some reason, emotionally, physically, etc. are sick, or truly scared, as an example, then you stay even if it means missing your date night, or hobby.
There will be more date nights and time for you as your kids grow older and more independent too. What many parents forget is that it’s all temporary. Your kids won’t be clingy toddlers forever that whine for everything under the sun and get into everything! Soon, they will be in school, after school programs, clubs, make their own friends and want time to themselves as well! Soon, they will be teens and want nothing to do with you and want to be out with friends all the time! Just because you have to sacrifice some initial years towards them being in greater need, doesn’t mean it will be that way for the next 18 years of your life as parents! Shirking your responsibility to be a present parent in your children’s lives in their formative years is devastating to your innocent helpless, dependent children who truly need you, and also, it won’t last forever. Even with teens, they will be out of the nest in a few short years, then you’ll have time to do more things outside parenting. But then again, patience seems to not be a virtue in today’s entitled “I want what I want RIGHT NOW…” culture!
Also, the excuse of “we have to be a couple” and put marriage over children is appalling! You are two grown adults who can spare to not be the center of attention! Your marriage will always be there if it’s a good one. Your children’s childhood won’t be. Childhood is just one stage of a family’s life, they will be grown and flown before you know it. To deprive innocent children, who are dependent on you for their care, safety and development as functional adults of the attention they need from you to grow up healthy and happy is unbelievably selfish and cruel! If your kids are a third wheel and a drag on your marriage in your mind, then you shouldn’t have had them! Not to mention, is your marriage so weak that you feel that a helpless child is “competition” for your spouse’s love and affection towards you? If you wanted to “just be a couple”, then why did you dive right into having kids??? Let me reiterate: marriage is for life, your children’s childhood is for 18 years. I think you can have the maturity to deal with being parents first, “just a couple” later for a temporary period of time in a life long partnership. You’re both the adults: act like it, and step up to put the more vulnerable little people in need ahead of your own wants and desires. Also, what if your spouse does something wrong? Would you choose them then over your own children if they were abused by the one you love? If you don’t say a resounding “No!”, you frankly don’t deserve the children in your so-called “care”! But that’s what it would mean to prioritize your adult relationship over your kids…
Overall, I’ve read countless “parenting” articles espousing the views of buying off “mommy guilt” and settling for mediocrity at best, and borderline abuse and neglect at worst. The message today’s parents are getting is “how many corners can I cut, but feel the least amount of guilt?”. It’s a sad state of affairs when parenthood has been reduced to an inconvenience getting in the way of “me time”. People have even written in articles admitting to not loving and resenting their own progeny, and appallingly, even one anonymous parent who admitted to putting on their toddler’s PJ’s as roughly as possible to vent her anger out on her innocent son! When did it become okay to just avoid guilt when we know we’re doing wrong? When did “me time” or “couple time” become priority #1, and vulnerable innocent children who didn’t choose to be brought into your life priority #5253 ??? There are plenty of outrageous examples of entitlement and lack of accountability out there, as I’ve mentioned before, but when it comes to parenting, it’s just plain evil!
And who cares about if I’m “judging” them??? Somehow that accusation is used to shut up anyone who calls out their sub-par parenting! Well guess what folks: I am judging your lack of accountability, responsibility and moral obligations towards your own defenseless vulnerable children! Deal with it and maybe actually feel enough guilt to motivate you to be a better parent… Many issues boil down to selfishness, immaturity and taking on too much, like popping out five kids you can’t possibly keep up with. If you’re not ready to give up “me time”, and put your kids first and wear the label of “parent” above all else for the next 18 years, then the solution is simple: don’t have kids…
Where are the virtuous mothers and fathers of generations past, like my grandfather who came home after working overtime to spend time with my dad as a boy? Or the mothers who were content to let motherhood be their greatest achievement in life? Where are the parents who say “just good enough” is not enough? No parent is perfect, but that’s no excuse for sub-par parenting! Yelling at, verbally abusing, grabbing, slapping, hitting, not spending time with and resenting your kids is not “just good enough” because others haven’t called CPS on you already or your kids hide the emotional trauma and lack of affection impacting their lives under your shallow self-centered radar, it’s abuse and neglect. My parents, and their parents are not and were never the “perfect parent”. They just had the morals and human decency to say “I can do better” instead of “just good enough”.
I hesitate to share these since it only brings more publicity to things I find morally repugnant, but I share them for you to get a sense of the appalling selfishness out there in the majority of parenting articles:
Why Mothers Should Not Feel Guilty About Spending No Time With Their Children (Yes, that’s the actual title of the article!)
Why I ALWAYS Put My Husband Before My Child (Because who cares if he ever abused them? He’s your #1! Or that as two grown adults, how you could ever even think of surviving not being the center of each other’s universes for a few years when your infant son needs his mommy and daddy…)
Here’s another even harsher article on the subject: Why I’ll Always Put My Husband Before My Kids (Yes, or else your kids will become self-entitled narcissists that demand mommy and daddy actually care for their kids’ welfare more than their adult relationship… All I can say is I pity the children in their home…)
Yelling At Kids: Why It’s A Necessary Parenting Tool (Sure, make excuses for how you are too lazy to find a less dysfunctional communication style, and as to why your teens took after “mommy dearest”…)