When our children were younger, we were very conscientious about their care. They didn’t drink “Kool-Aid.” We mixed their juice half and half with water. There was not often candy in our house. We didn’t have network or cable television, and they would occasionally watch something from our collection of age appropriate DVDs (and by age appropriate, I don’t necessarily mean G rated, Cartoons, or Disney movies, many of which are extremely confusing and traumatic for a very young child) We weren’t denying them anything they were asking for, but simply not giving them anything that was potentially damaging to their health and happiness when they weren’t even asking for it.
For some reason, this upset people. A chorus of “You can’t shelter them forever!” was constantly ringing in my ears. A phrase that never made much sense to me, because all parents “shelter” their children to a certain extent. You don’t sit your 3 year old down to watch hard core pornography. You don’t offer your 5 year old a shot of vodka. You don’t drop your 2 year old off on the outskirts of town and see if they can find their way home. Oh, and then there was the story of so-and-so. You remember s0-and-so, don’t you? Their mother never allowed them to have such-and-such, and when they finally got ahold of it they were obsessed with it and never did anything else! You don’t want your kid to be like so-and-so, do you? People were also constantly trying to undermine our parenting decisions. Thrusting spoonsful of ice cream toward my 8 month old daughter, or putting on movies they knew we wouldn’t want the kids watching. In short, it was extreme disrespect for my children’s wellness, and extreme disrespect for my wife and I as parents. Obviously, we didn’t know what we were doing, so they had to correct it for us.
Well, some years and a few kids later, things have changed. The kids are older, candy is inevitable, and we now have a TV with Netflix and a computer with the internet. But one thing hasn’t changed, we are still upsetting people with the way we raise our children. The problem now? Too much freedom. We don’t force them to dress a certain way, we let them eat when and what they would like, they do not have a fixed bedtime, they decide who they do and don’t want to hug and kiss, and we have no limits on screen time.
Why then, are people still upset? Isn’t this what they wanted? For us to stop sheltering our children and to stop being so “controlling”? But that was never really the issue. The issue was that we were doing something different. We were going against the grain, and we still are. That is a problem for three reasons:
1. By doing something different we must be implying that the way they raised their children was wrong.
2. They are jealous because they wanted to do something different, but gave in to pressure to maintain the status quo.
3. Society has taught them to fear what they do not understand.
So, to all you different parents out there, I say be yourself, do what’s best for your family, and don’t listen for one second to the jerks who try to bring you down. Your children will thank you, and you won’t have to ever wonder what would have happened if you had raised them the way you knew was right.
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