I by no means claim to be an expert at parenting. I have only been a step-mom for a few years. I will say that on some levels I was not surprised. The amount of energy my 15-year-old kid needs from me is pretty predictable. The grocery bill was a shock. In retrospect, I was living in denial about how much it costs to feed other humans. What I didn’t expect was the loneliness. I am not talking about the lack of friend time. I am talking about the lack of parenting from other kid’s parents. You know, the ones when Mom calls while you’re at a sleepover spilling the beans about the B.S. you pulled at home and your friend’s Mom reinforces the can of whoop ass your parents handed out. In this day and age, those Moms don’t exist. In fact, not only do they not exist but they want to defend the kids and blame your parenting for the problem. That is another level of loneliness.
Remember back when we could run around our neighborhoods freely with neighbor kids? You know why we felt safe? Because all the adults took responsibility for the kids. It didn’t matter if the adults had kids. Retired, newlyweds, parents; it didn’t matter. They collectively took responsibility for the kids on their streets. When it came time to celebrate birthdays, holidays, and keeping us in line – they were there. Society cared that kids understood the rules and followed them. Sure, there were always a few that were more lenient but there was a parent to parent code. They had each other’s backs. As a modern day parent I can say that this is not the case anymore.
As I (and some of my friends) have reached out to other parents the responses are sobering:
“You’re too hard on him.” Oh really? You’re saying that me taking responsibility for a kid that I did not give birth to and actually care about how he turns out as a human being is being “too hard on him?” First of all, RUDE! Second of all, you have no clue what our day to day lives are like so it would be appreciated if you put your judging card away.
“Your kids would be happier if he wasn’t getting in trouble all the time.” You must think I just fell off the turnip truck. OF COURSE we all want our kids to NOT be in trouble all the time. When my kid is grounded guess who else gets grounded, ME! I want my son to be trustworthy and responsible so that I can be free to do fun things with him and for him. What sanity loving parent wants their kid to be in trouble constantly? I don’t know any.
“It isn’t his fault he broke the rules. You don’t let him do what he wants.” Did I hear that right? Yup… I sure did. Let this one sink in people because this was an actual quote from another Mother.
“He never has anything good to say about you.” So, you’re going to defend the rant of a 15 year old? Is that really the basis of your argument? Guess what, sometimes kids don’t like their parents. Sometimes they don’t get along. Is this REALLY a surprise?! When I hear a teenager ranting about how his parents want him to check in and follow the rules I think to myself, “I want to buy those parents a drink and make our kids be friends.” Kids are going to complain about their parents. End of story. If (as an adult) you take the word of a teenager as solid gold truth without seeing the whole picture, I believe your adult card should be revoked. Also, instead of pointing the finger at the parent maybe you should look at the opportunity to encourage him instead of ripping the people that love him the most in this world.
Here is the deal, parenting is hard. Step-parenting is hard. I have no clue which one is harder. What I do know is that as a step-parent I will do anything for my kid. That includes giving him all my love and guidance. I am in no way obligated to take care of this kid. I chose to. I decided that this kid was worth all the blood, sweat, and tears it takes to step into a role as Mom. Having parents that not only do not support you but take the side of the kid, it sucks. It really really sucks. Parents need to rally and have each other’s backs instead of being in opposition. If you don’t agree with how I am parenting, then keep it to yourself. Trash talking the parents to the kid only shows the world that you would rather be a friend of your kids instead of parents.
Also published on Medium.