I feel tired. Weary. This parenting gig, it ain’t easy. And everyone’s got an opinion. I know that blogging about my parenting struggles opens me up to opinions and advice – invites them, in fact. And I’m happy and eager a lot of the time to read the input I receive. But sometimes it just makes me feel more muddled. Because the truth is, nobody has all the answers. Nobody holds the one magic key of parenting that is guaranteed to work for every kid in every family under every circumstance. Parenting is a total learn-as-you-go proposition. I don’t know if I’m doing all the right things, I really don’t. I’m sure I’m screwing up in ways that I’m not even aware of yet. But I’m trying, I’m really trying, to get it right.
I know that as a parent, I seem to do things quite a bit differently than even a lot of my friends. I think some of my friends are appalled at some of the restrictions I put on Kevin. I reserve the right to read his emails, and he knows this. Some of my friends have said that they’d never violate their kids’ privacy like that, but I kind of feel like, he’s a child – everything he does is my business. He has a cell phone, but he’s not allowed to use it for socializing – no texting or phone calls with friends – it’s only to keep in touch with us, the parents. He’s perfectly welcome to talk to his friends on our land line – I just see no reason why he would need to text and call friends on his cell phone at this age. But I know that’s very different from how my friends see it. He’s not on Facebook (or MySpace or Twitter), and although he hasn’t yet asked to join any social networking sites, I really think that at this age I’d be inclined to say no. He still has an early bed time – quite a bit earlier, I’d venture to guess, than most of his peers – because I know that he requires a certain amount of sleep every night and have seen how he is when he doesn’t get that amount of sleep. And the money thing. I’m not inclined to give him free reign over his money at this age. If it was just small change, it might be a different story, but there are weeks when he earns upwards of $100 between babysitting and tutoring, and that just seems like an awful lot of cash to allow a fourteen-year-old to have at his disposal. While I believe he’s a good kid, I’m not going to give him the benefit of the doubt on everything to start with – I’m not going to start with lots of freedom and wait until he fucks up to start pulling in the reigns. I feel more comfortable doing it from the other end – starting with a lot of restrictions and letting out the reigns as he matures and shows that he’s trustworthy and responsible. Obviously these rules that we have in place for him now, at barely fourteen years old, will change over time.
But like I said, I really have no idea if I’m doing this whole parenting thing the right way. Is there a right way? Does any kid get out of childhood unscathed? Does any parent get through parenthood without screwing up in some way? And yeah, it often crosses my mind, especially lately with Kevin’s first year of high school looming on the horizon, that maybe we’ve sheltered him too much. Are we just setting him up for huge acts of rebellion? I don’t know. And it scares me.
This morning Kevin would barely speak to me or look at me. My read is that he feels ashamed about being caught in an act of dishonesty, and he’s dealing with those feelings with bravado. And it just makes me tired. I don’t think I’m cut out for soft parenting, and yet, it wears me down to be seen as the bad guy by my kids so much of the time. And even by my peers.