Every time I open my mouth to give any of my four kids advice I cringe.
And It’s worse when I have to be captain discipline.
80% of it seems to be do as I say not as I do.
For instance, I’ve shown my older kids how to properly wash the dishes many times and it never gets done correctly, if at all. And they don’t even have to wash them, I do that myself. It’s the simple act of running some water in their dishes when they’re finished. So when I come behind to put their plates and bowls in the dishwasher later there won’t be any pieces of food or gunk that are impossible to get off.
If my mother and father are reading this, no doubt a big smile has taken over their faces after that last sentence. Guess who was the absolute worst at that growing up (amongst other things)? Me. I never took the 5 seconds of caring it takes to execute such an act, despite constant reminders from my parents to do so.
Now I’m in the unfortunate position of constantly telling and reminding my kids to do the same, and they never EVER do it. At this point it’s just a slap in the face. It’s not laziness, it’s not forgetting, it’s fuck it and fuck him. That’s the way I look at it.
Meanwhile, I’m thrust into the position of always reminding myself that I did the same thing at their age, so I can’t get too mad. Which is actually extremely counterproductive. It makes me way more lenient with them. And they take advantage.
This is just one example. But stuff like this happens all the time. Even scarier are the potential future conversations I’ve already envisioned happening about missing curfews, driving around with friends, lying about where they’re at, drinking, smoking weed, money issues, etc.
I’ve been through all of them. So how the hell am I gonna tell any of my kids not to drink alcohol until they are 21, or that weed is illegal where we are, or punish them for missing curfew? I did all those things, some of them in abundance.
I can’t criticize with a straight face my kid’s ability to manage his or her money when I’ve been both loaded and broke several times in my life. And it’s all the same no matter what category or scenario it falls under.
I always feel like I’m gonna hear the ‘You’re telling me you didn’t do this stuff when you were my age?’ question when I criticize or punish them for their actions.
I know I’m supposed to play the parent-child game of telling them the truth, explaining that things were different then, and assuring them if I had it to do all over again I wouldn’t have done some of those things I did in the past. But where is the line between that and something being ‘just a part of growing up’?
I’ve never heard of one kid or young adult who hasn’t had to learn something for themselves. I feel like I can tell my kids to not do something until I’m blue in the face and it won’t make a difference. The fact parents are ‘older and wiser’ means less than nothing to a child. If it did, I’d be the best and most honest person on the planet based on all the advice my parents gave me growing up.
But here I am thinking about the big picture and fearful of the future. I always picture these kids later in life, as adults, and how I’ll be able to interact with them then, respectfully. It can’t be normal, but that’s what I do with all of them. Even the 3 and 2 year olds. It’s just where my mind goes.
I don’t want to let them down. I’d hate for them to get older and come to a consensus that I was a shitty father because I was so hypocritical.