Parenting is hard!
I constantly struggle to balance being the cool dad with tough dad. Last year DJ told me I was the most strict father in the world. I asked her if she could remember a time that I had punished her. She said, “No. But I know if I do something wrong you’d kill me.”
She has no basis for that. I have never, ever killed anyone before.
When Uncle Jesse lived with us, he basically told me I was a pushover – not requiring chores, doing too much for the girls, catering to their every whim.
I have friends who are really good parents but have really tough kids. When I used to run summer camps, I saw plenty of great kids with parents who were seemingly worthless.
I still check in with DJ’s friends parents if she says she’s sleeping at someone else’s house. I don’t really care that she’s 17. I also don’t care that she has never significantly broken my trust. I just think it’s a good practice.
My mom still wants to know the phone number and address of the hotels where I lodge when I’m out of town. She doesn’t call my friends’ parents when I go out, but she probably would if she knew their phone numbers.
On the other hand, sometimes I let Michelle or Stephanie watch a movie or listen to a song that may push the limits. I might raise an eyebrow when I walk through the room, but I’m not inclined to run up and stop Netflix midstream.
Don’t get me wrong, they aren’t watching R rated movies, but some of the TV shows that are on today, some that I really like, are not really appropriate for a 12-year-old Presbyterian.
I happen to enjoy a couple of Miley Cyrus songs. She appears to be a tramp, but she got some good tunes!
I’ll never forget the time when Michelle was three and busted out singing, Mariah Carey’s song Touch My Body, in the back seat of our minivan. I thought Lisa was gonna come upside my head.
“You let her listen to that?”
“Ahh. Well maybe once.”
“Once? She knows every word! What if she busts out with ‘Touch my body, Throw me on the floor, Tussle me around, Play with me some more,’ during music time in Mrs. Wishon’s class?”
“Well, I never really thought about that.”
“That’s because you are a moron. Turn on Barney!”
I don’t have the answer on how to best parent. I think too strict could drive a wedge between a parent and a child and perhaps stop all flow of communication. On the other hand, totally letting go of the reins can lead to behaviors that could bring about long-term, unwanted repercussions.
I think my mantra on life has been to steer away from excess. Maybe that keeps me from being too passionate about anything. Or, maybe it keeps me centered.
Knock on wood and say a little prayer (not too evangelical and not too progressive); my girls are doing well under the current regime. For now, I’ll keep walking the line.