Thursday, February 26, 2009

What makes a good parent?

Some things have been bothering me lately. Some of my friends and co-workers have really great, AWESOME kids. Kids getting exceptionally high grades, they talk to their parents and are getting scholarships. One in particular is doing exceptionally well. I know for a fact that it's not parental fakery......it's genuine........but with SOME parents...To hear tell, these kids are nearly perfect. So, what’s wrong with mine? Son #1 says he doesn’t drink or smoke pot. He’s not gotten caught by me or the authorities (that I know of). He says many of his friends do, but he is choosing not to. I worry that he’s telling me this because I’m his mom and it’s what I WANT to hear.

His grades are just so-so. A’s, B’s and C’s. But in order to get into the A+ program, to have Missouri pay for his tuition at a community college for 2 years he needs ALL A’S. With a possible B+ here and there. POSSIBLE. He seems unmotivated to excel, and all he wants to do is hang out with his friends. Listen to abhorrent music, and stay as far from us as humanly possible.

I talk to my kids about drugs/alcohol, and the dangers. I talk to my kids about sex and being respectful and abstinence. I ALSO provide my kids with an out…….with a ride home should a poor decision be made and providing birth control should they need it. I can’t say that by offering a ride if they’ve been drinking or to make a drugstore run for them means that I CONDONE their behavior, but if they make poor choices, they need to be as safe as possible while making those bad choices…you know?

I suspect that maybe there is some alcohol and minor marijuana use. I don’t know for certain, though. I do not feel like it’s over the top….addictive or anything but experimental. But according to Dr. Phil, there IS no such thing as teenage experimentation with drugs and alcohol….that if you kid is using either, to get them into treatment. This confuses me. I TRIED STUFF in high school and am now a reasonable adult…..that is not addicted to any substance (except maybe food).

So….how are other people’s kids perfect and mine not? Is it because we don’t attend a church? Or is the real, UGLY truth that I am honest about my kids and my concerns for them and my ferocious love and protective nature of them, and others aren’t as honest? That ‘putting on airs’ is more important than acknowledging that a kid may not be PERFECT?

I worry, Internet. I worry that maybe I’m a bad mom. That somehow I’ve failed my kids.

Now, back to son #1. What does he do that is successful? Until Scholastic laid part time employees off, he was employed continuously since he was 15. He tells me he loves me every day (multiple times). He tells me where he’s going and who he’s with. He calls me to keep in touch when he’s out (not as often as I’d like, but he does do it). He’s been pretty forthcoming about events and places he goes, and what occurs at them…..all the while claiming he isn’t participating. He’s currently looking for a job. He does do a few chores if berated enough, and he doesn’t skip school.

So, what makes a good mom? Does offering a ‘pass’ to pick up your child if they’ve been drinking make me a bad mom? Or does it make me a realistic mom? Does offering to purchase condoms for them mean I’m promoting sexual activity? Or does it mean I understand the workings of a teenage mind?

They’ve never taken me up on either offer. Although, I do see condoms in my older son’s possession…he’s not afraid to buy them himself…….which bugs me some, but also makes me re-assured that MAYBE some of what I lecture him about gets through to him.

I just don’t know. I don’t have a God-fearing, 4.0 son. I have a handsome, funny, loving (some of the time), socially active boy.

Toodles for now.

Happy Thursday.

7 comments:

Kate said...

Shelly, you're dead on and don't let anyone else tell you you're not an awesome mom. Being honest with your kids is the most important thing in parenting. I worked with teenagers for 10 years. And the most messed up ones were the 4.0 goody two shoes. The ones that experimented? They're all fine now. They got in a little trouble, paid some consequences and moved on to become great adults. The ones that never did anything "off?" They're screwed. Totally screwed. Because once they get a taste of adult freedoms without having tried them while still living with an adult that can guide them through a bad decision? There's no compass. Stick with your instincts, girlie. They're dead on.

Daisee579 said...

Preach on, sister Kate. Yes, I was a goody two shoes 4.0 student in high school and most of college. I screwed up big time in college and still am paying for it emotionally. Will never get over some of it, I'm sure. Will never divulge most of it, I'm positive. I love that you are honest with your kids. My parents were wonderful and none of us ended up in jail or dead; most have college degress; and all have jobs. But I probably screwed around more in college than I otherwise might have. Not that I won't shelter my kids, I'm sure and smother them to death (I can say this since I don't have any). Not all 4.0 goody two shoes end up bad, but there is definitely enough of us to be a real stereotype. And plenty of boys took advantage of that aspect of my nature. I'm smarter now and back to being a mostly goody two shoes, BUT I have learned a lot from my past AND I now have a lot more to lose.

Keep up the good work! When I was in law school, they told us the A students would be professors, the B students judges, and the C students? We'd be the best, most successful practicing attorneys. Not really sure how true it is, but for me and the hub, it's totally true. Average is just fine most of the time. You can get a good job and have a great life as average. (I also have to remind myself as a former 4.0 who's now struggling to PASS an advanced degree that average is OK!)

Perfectly Shelly said...

Thanks, Kate....the perfect mom/perfect kid syndrome is worrying me today.

Daisee--I would never begrudge a 4.0 goody two shoes so to speak. That's in essence what we all want our kids to be---well rounded, studious and generous. But what if they aren't EXACTLY like that?

I think it's awesome you were so good in school. I wish I'd have done the same.

MsDarkstar said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
MsDarkstar said...

Ok, take 2 (I messed up on my first comment)

I think that giving your kids options that will keep them safe and alive is a GOOD thing. If it keeps them, even once, from driving drunk or being driven home by a drunk friend, then it will have been 100% worth it. If they never NEED the ride, all the better but better that they can call than having them be afraid and doing something stupid.

And I know that it is hard, as a mom, to know that your son is buying his own condoms, but... it tells me he is taking responsibility and not leaving it up to the girlfriend.

Shelly, your kids may be flawed, but they are PERFECTLY fine!

Dingo said...

His grades are just so-so. A’s, B’s and C’s. But in order to get into the A+ program, to have Missouri pay for his tuition at a community college for 2 years he needs ALL A’S. With a possible B+ here and there. POSSIBLE. He seems unmotivated to excel, and all he wants to do is hang out with his friends

You can only do what you can and you know what? As much as you may want to, you can't live his life or make some decisions for him. He's going to have to grow up and if that means facing some hard knocks for bad decisions, then that's not your fault. I know it must be hard to see him not living up to the potential you know he has but ultimately, it's up to him.

That being said, I'm calling Child Protective Services because you are obviously a horrible parent!! Hee, hee, just kidding.

Daisee579 said...

I think your kids ARE well-rounded, studious, and generous. Who cares if they have only slightly above average grades instead of out of the ball park grades. Soon, grades won't matter - I can tell you right now, grades didn't help or hurt me land either my current or my previous job. My personality and hard work is all that matters. Your kids have demonstrated that to you and will continue to do so. You're completely on the right track, from what I can tell. (Disclaimer again, I have no kids, so what do I really know???LOL)