Sunday Post 195: Not too much, not too little

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.

Leave a comment


  1. mylifeasabuzzard

     /  November 23, 2014

    Love this! One of the greatest things about being the youngest child is access to pop music at an early age. My eldest only listened to Barney, Raffi, Christian Children CDs through 4th grade. Soccer carpool music, KLove. My youngest burst out in the chorus of ‘I’m sexy & I know it” at age 2 and recently told me not to change the station when “her jam” Jason Derulio’s “Talk Dirty To Me” came on the car radio.

    You will still call the parents of Michelle’s friends when she goes over for a sleepover. But she will reap the benefits of a more laid back, more seasoned dad. When my DJ complains I remind her there are benefits and blessings of each place in the bih order. We never miss one of her soccer games, our uber focus on her grades makes her more driven than the others. There is a reason most presidents & CEOs are first borns.

    We can only act on what we know now. Like you & Johnny Cash, “I walk the line.”

    • Danny Tanner

       /  November 23, 2014

      I think you may be right about the youngest kid learning at a much earlier age. She has multiple teachers!

  2. Mom

     /  November 23, 2014

    Yep, I think you’ve got it just about right. They know you mean what you say but you are willing to listen to their side and when all else fails you make them laugh and things defuse and you guys work it out. Keep on “truckn'”. You remind me of my Dad when you pull out that humorous side of yours. Then, you have your Dad’s side when it’s necessary to tow the line. Man, you got some good genes!

  3. Mel HAM

     /  November 23, 2014

    Gosh its such a juggling act to balance the two. I want to be open so even if he has done something wrong he can talk…call me to rescue etc…but yet set boundaries.
    There was a time when he was about two or so we had purchased a cd that had his name incorporated into the Christian children songs….Cameron…lalalalala….you know Cameron!…lalalalal…Jesus loves you CAMERON!….I tried to play it twice which resulted in him crying and screaming turn it off turn it off. Bear in the blue house potty song traumatized him too. something about Shadow talking about everything has to poop.

  4. Pam

     /  November 23, 2014

    I was just thinking about my children and the sacrifices we make. I can tell from your posts that you are a caring father who always has his children’s best interests at heart. My children are in college and I still want to know what they are doing and who they are with. I know you are raising your children with love, humor and Christian values. Who doesn’t like to sing a new Iggy or Beyoncé tune while driving?

  5. Oh, if only there were an easy answer on how to parent. It wasn’t that long ago that Mr. T told me how he needed his space, and then proceeded to act as though he didn’t need me in his life. I had to explain to him that there was a difference between “needing space” and acting as though he didn’t need his mother for anything anymore. And then dropped him off for practice. When I picked him up from practice he told me that he appreciated how I was trying to respect his need for space, and yes, he was pulling away from me, but now he see’s that there is a difference and that he can’t live without me.

    The next several months weren’t easy, but we found a balance! 🙂

  6. You’ve got this, obviously you were raised right.

  7. I know I let Anna my youngest watch stuff I never let Kaegan watch. I often think about how lucky I am that when someone is acting up, I can really switch it on, to being real and really questioning them, on really, you think I’m a mean mommy? …… “well no, i’m sorry.” gosh when they do this, it makes my heart melt. Sometimes I can’t believe my mom let me listen to George Michael and that song, “I want your sex”. I mean seriously mom, I had no idea of what I was singing but I was loving that song. Now, if I heard my kids singing this, I would stroke out.


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