…And We Thought Parenting Was Going To Be Easy!

Guest post by Lisa Hein

Being raised back in the 1950’s was the best. Well, at least I can say that now! The thing I remember the most, is that we were never confused or had to second guess what our parents said.

It didn’t matter how old you were, when your mother or father said “okay,” then it was okay, if they said “no,” it was no. You never even thought about arguing your way out of it, because if you did, they would just keep adding time to your being grounded. We weren’t that dumb…we kept our mouth closed until we were far enough away from them so they couldn’t hear those dreaded words “I hate you!”

At times it was frustrating because you didn’t have a chance and you didn’t have the opportunity to manipulate them. They were totally hard core parents! Imagine that.

Many years later, I became a parent, a single parent. I remember there were times I would think to myself, ‘There’s no way I will raise my child the way I was raised!’ I was prepared to reinvent the wheel and show my parents that you don’t need to be so strict and that it is possible to allow your children’s friends to come in the house and actually play. There would be no plastic on the furniture or on the carpet by the front door.

Yes, I was on a mission! I was going to do everything different and my child and I would have the most awesome relationship ever.

He would be brought up with everything I did not have. He would never have to wear hand me downs or experience home-made clothes! He would travel with me everywhere I went and he would have every one of his needs met, pronto.

This child was special. He had charisma. People of all ages wanted to talk to him and he knew how to respond back to them. Some women would just melt when he would look at them because he had these gorgeous brown eyes and the longest eyelashes. He would mesmerize them.’

I wanted my child to be a part of my world and never would he hear “Children should be seen and not heard.” Nope, not my perfect child…not only did he go everywhere with me, but, he was actually an intricate part of most gatherings. He had the coolest personality and he adjusted to every situation. He was never left behind. If you asked me to meet you somewhere, you could count on seeing him too. None of my friends minded and throughout his entire life, he was allowed to speak with adults. I thought it was terrific that he had so much confidence within himself and that he was comfortable speaking to an 80 year old when he was only 5.

As the years went on, his dynamic personality was still growing. He learned that if you speak politely to whomever, whether it be me, aunts, grandmother, or his teachers and he batted his beautiful brown eyes, he would get what he wanted. Before I knew it, the little girls started falling for it too. The world was now his. He knew what it took to create the perfect world for himself….and so he did!

Eventually I married, and we were a pretty happy family and our life was good. We were surrounded by extended family and no matter where we were, there they were. It was an amazing feeling of warmth and protection. To this day, we are still a very close family and we try to spend as much time together as we can, even though we live thousands of miles from each other.

A few years later, we decided to move away. We left everyone behind and moved across the country to spend the rest of our lives by the beach. It was so scary. There weren’t any friends to call or family members to have over for dinner. What did we do? I had made the decision and now I had to make sure my family would adjust positively.

Being a former cheerleader, all my skills kicked in and my ‘rah rah’ sessions began. I went around the neighborhood and introduced my son to all of the children. He knew some of them from school, so it wasn’t too awkward. Before he knew it, he was right back in the swing of things and realized that being the new kid wasn’t so bad.

The house began to fill up with children from all over the place. They really enjoyed being a part of our family. There was always good food and treats to eat. It was the best time of my life too. The children were hilarious and they really didn’t mind me being around. I would drive them to get ice cream, take them over to the beach, wherever they wanted to go, I was right there! Yes, I had become the total opposite of my mother.

Middle school went well and he had now become President of Student Council, was one of the most popular boys ever, and he was hanging out with all the popular kids. Terrific, right??? I mean come on, what more could you ask for?

During the summer between middle school and high school, I began experiencing major wake up calls and boy do I mean wake up calls. No, not ones on the telephone, visions of what was going on with my child!

Things were changing and I was now on the roller coaster ride of my life. Here I thought being this ‘cool’ parent was going to take me right through those miserable teenage years I had heard about with no problem. We communicated, I set boundaries (that continually got moved due to his ability to manipulate me), I was consistent (until he distracted me and ‘goo-gooed’ me to the point that I forgot he was actually grounded) and I was able to mean what I said (until he would say “Whatever mom” and walk out the door).

Wow! Did I show my mother that I had better parenting skills then her or what? What the heck did I do?

I created a monster and now I had to figure out how to get control of it. I tried so hard to make him into this amazing, strong, popular person, that I literally pushed him into the world of chaos. He really believed that I was only there to meet all of his needs, when he needed them, and then when he didn’t need me anymore, NEXT…

I had screwed up and I didn’t know what to do. Those teenage years snuck up on me and threw me into a world I had absolutely no knowledge of. There were times I wanted to talk to my mother, but there was such a generation gap, that there was no way she could understand. The last thing I wanted to hear from her was “Well, honey you decided to do things differently, now what?”

It was a whirlwind, one situation after another. My husband and I were unable to keep up with it. We raised him to feel that he had carte blanche to everything in our home and everything that the world had to offer. He had the best of everything and he expected us to keep up that image. We were devastated.

Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think that for one second the repercussions from my ‘newly founded philosophy’ would I ever, ever, ever, experience what was happening in my life and in our family.

My story is not to say I have an awful child, it is to say, STOP. We do not owe our children everything. All we need to do is supply them with Love, Food, Shelter and Clothes. Everything else is gravy.

They do not need to be a part of every step we make or a part of every conversation we have. In fact, it’s okay for them to be seen and not heard. It teaches them respect and character to know that there is a time and a place for them.

Some children lack character today. They have become so self-absorbed that they don’t even realize there are other family members living in the same home. It’s all about them. It’s about their clothes, their cell phone, their computer, their, their, their. Hey, wait a second, who gave you all that stuff?

Please don’t get the wrong idea, there were many times that he was punished and things were taken away; including all of his privileges. We were great parents and we gave him a great foundation when he was young. He had manners and he definitely knew how to be respectful and kind.

Unfortunately, as he matured the more important lessons were thrown to the side, while all the new worldly lessons went into effect. Those days are long gone, THANK GOD! He did what he had to do, and so did we. We experienced things that no parent should. I have more gray hair than I wish to admit, BUT, he graduated college, and we are all still madly in love with each other.

I wrote THE BOOK about my experience with parenting and now, he is writing a book about his life. That will be interesting to hear his perception.

Lisa Hein, Speaker and Parenting Author of THE BOOK “I’m Doing The Best I Can!” (They won’t always be cute and adorable) is becoming one of the most sought after speakers. It has been said that her book is ‘one of the most down to earth parenting resources for today’s parenting.’

If you would like to learn more about Lisa or book her for an upcoming speaking engagement, please visit www.LisaRHein.com or email her at [email protected].

3 Responses to …And We Thought Parenting Was Going To Be Easy!
  1. easy child parenting
    April 26, 2009 | 4:50 am

    I agree with you on the assertion that we don’t owe our kids any other thing apart from love and the necessary things of life like:shelter,clothing and education but the greatest difficulty most young Parents experience is knowing the limit of the attention that is to be given to their child.

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