I never talked back to my parents. Yet my own kids talk back to me. A lot.
My children also raise their voices to me when they’re angry. Think back: would you ever?
Worse still, I often have to tell my spawn to do something multiple times — multiple times —because my continuous requests are repeatedly ignored. Can you even imagine?
As another Mother’s Day approaches I can’t help but reflect on how remarkably different I parent than my mother did. When I dig deep I have to admit: there are times I feel completely overrun by the people in my home that are less than half my age. I don’t think my own mother ever felt that way one day of her life. In fact, she wouldn’t put up with one minute of what I tolerate from my children.
Does that make me a worse mom than her?
In all fairness I should throw it out there that my kids are not rotten. Not in the least. And never have been. They were never the tantrum-throwing toddlers in the restaurant, or the give-a-pinch-when-a-grown-up’s-not-looking schoolyard brat or the current topic of conversation in the teachers’ lunchroom (didn’t know about that? oops, spillin’ secrets here). They happen to be the epitome of respectful individuals when out in the real world and are quite well liked. Actually, if I’m being completely honest I’d have to say they are, in fact, fairly boast-worthy children.
So why do they shit on me?
Usually after a particularly bad display of disrespect from one (or two, or three, or all four) of our kids, my husband and I will have conversations about this, scratching our heads (okay, maybe while downing beers). We question how in the world we got to be parents of children who easily display behavior that would’ve resulted in a swift backhand from any – and all – of our own parents.
We think back and remember the fear in our homes and the physical repercussions of any type of conduct unbecoming. It certainly wasn’t unusual back then. Actually, it was very, very typical. We all did what we were told – the first time – because it far surpassed the alternative of NOT doing so.
But there is no fear in my own home today. There is no apprehension for questioning or stating opinion or disagreeing. It gets loud, sure, and at times inappropriate, but no one’s ever hesitant about speaking up.
There are other blatant differences in my home now that speak volumes to how very different my parenting style is from my mom’s.
For instance, my kids talk to me way more than I ever talked to my mother at their ages – about cringe-worthy topics that would zap the frost straight out of my mom’s bouffant. Eighth grade girls doing decidedly un-eighth grade things in the way back of a bus on a school trip? Sixth grade classmates experimenting with drugs? You name it. Details are anted up without pause, over nightly bowls of pasta or during car rides to practice. Like, nothing. No big deal.
Also, my kids tell me they love me – all the time and for no particular reason. My first distinct memory of saying “I love you”— out loud — to my mom was from a payphone in the middle of a dormitory hallway during my freshman year in college. As I am forced to go through my third Mother’s Day without her, my heart still gets heavy when I think of this and my regret pains me. It was way, way too late in life to have started that.
No doubt about it, my kids are being raised in a different world entirely. My mother didn’t socialize with my friends’ parents. I would venture she didn’t know most of their names at all. She didn’t come to many school events and never checked to see if I was doing homework.
If I had to make a list, I’m pretty sure I’m involved in a gazillion more things with my four than my mom ever was for me.
Yet the loves of my loins – all of them – have moments of intolerable selfishness, insufferable self-absorption, whininess, rudeness and petulance. And – why hold back now — they occasionally swear.
So I do wonder: Who’s done a better job at this mothering thing, me or mine?
What do you think?
With all her failings, my mother’s love for me was ferocious and I knew that every day of my life. She raised kind, smart and capable children.
With my own failings, my love for my children is ferocious and they, too, know it every day of their lives.. I am raising kind, smart and capable children.
I’d say we both win this one.
Happy Mother’s Day to all of us – the successful ones, the failing ones and the holding-on-for-dear-life ones. We got this.
Tina Drakakis blogs at Eyerollingmom and was just featured in the Boston production of “Listen to Your Mother: Giving Motherhood a Microphone.” She takes on the cyberspace @Eyerollingmom and Eyerollingmom.
Oh. My. Goodness. It’s like you’re describing my very own life and parenting experience and children. So many times we felt like we must be terrible parents because one of them would have killer screaming fits in public and another was nasty and disrespectful while at home. And yet…they’re all absolutely fantastic human beings, top of the line by anyone’s standards. I really think a lot of the difference in our parents’ generation’s parenting style v. our parenting style is an understanding of what’s going on in a child’s mind. Back then there was no interest in our awareness of where kids might be coming from. In contrast, I was always thinking about their developmental stage and their unique emotional needs. Maybe that led to more “lenience” than my parent’s generation would have tolerated, but I think it also led to a stronger family and some really awesome kids!
-Amy at http://www.momgoeson.wordpress.com
You nailed this one Tina. Dead on. If I ever talked back to my mother she would have backhanded me across the face without hesitation. In fact all she had to do was raise her hand and I would cringe. If I raised my hand to my kids like that, they’d probably wonder what I was doing and if perhaps I had some sort of anxious tic. But she’s an awesome mom and I knew that she loved me and now that I have kids of my own, I really know how much! (And no, I would have never told her the things that were going on in the back of that bus, but Marley tells me all that stuff for sure.) 🙂
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