News Flash, ALL of Our Kids are Jerks. . .
First off, I’m writing this to myself as much as anyone else.
Parenting is hard, like really, really hard. I love my kids with every fiber in my being. They are wild and crazy and make great choices and terrible choices and I love them regardless. We all do, right? But here’s the thing, kids are kids and by nature, they are sometimes jerks. Sometimes they say things they shouldn’t. Sometimes they do things they shouldn’t. Sometimes they make choices that cut us to our very core because we would have sworn on our lives that they were smarter, nicer, more mature, etc. than to do something like THAT.
Trust me, speaking from experience, it’s humbling, embarrassing and gut wrenching sometimes to know that your kid made a choice or did a thing or treated a person in a way you NEVER would allow.
But guess what? Our kids are completely separate people, and they have very underdeveloped frontal lobes, and they are insecure and immature, and they are going to screw up.
And guess what else? It doesn’t make them bad people. And it doesn’t mean they are going to become bad people. It truly doesn’t mean much at all except that they are feeling out their world and seeing what they can get away with and only thinking 5 minutes or less in front of their exact situation when they make stupid decisions. They lack empathy, perspective and often even common sense.
It’s almost as if they should have someone to lovingly guide them through these years to help them develop character and learn to make better choices.
Spoiler alert, that’s our exact job as we ARE their parents.
But some of us, (me included at times) aren’t doing our job. Some of us can't possibly conceive of the thing our child "allegedly" did.
So, let me just give you the hard truth. . .that thing that you KNOW your kid didn’t do or say, that word you KNOW they don’t use, that disruption you know they didn’t cause in class. . .I’m sorry to be the one to say it, but they probably did.
You who thinks your child doesn’t lie, I’d bet my life that they do. All kids lie. All good kids lie. Certainly not all of the time, but all kids lie to their parents to avoid the unpleasant consequences of whatever stupid thing they did. That’s why parenting is so freaking hard, because half of the time you have to be a detective. And if you're like me you weren't trained as a detective and it makes the enamel drip off of your teeth constantly trying to figure out who did what and when and that's just within the conflicts between my OWN three children. It would be infinitely easier to raise children if they were all 100% honest 100% of the time. No such luck. And yes, sometimes kids do get blamed for things they didn’t do, but more often than not. . .they did in fact do it. And if they didn’t do it, they’ve done it enough in the past that they need to deal with the negative repercussions from the reputation they’ve created for themselves. That's been a very effective life lesson for one of our boys.
But here’s the good news, YOU (their biggest fan) know about it. And if you (presumably the one with the operational frontal lobe and more perspective than a goldfish) know about it and believe it, you can actually help them. You can teach and guide them into living out the integrity that you know they possess at their core.
And you know what else? That friend or teacher or acquaintance who took time out of their day to tell you what your kid was up to when you thought they were just out being perfect little angels. . .that person is actually doing you (AND your kid) a favor.
Years ago, when my boys were small, it was the nice thing to do to NOT tell a parent about their kid misbehaving. If I kept your toddler while you went to the OB/GYN (sadly, even a kid free pap smear feels like a day at the spa when you're in the weeds of raising littles) and he was a "handful" and threw food on the ground and pulled my dogs hair. . .I’m just gonna gently correct your kid and tell you to take your time and grab a coffee on your way home because little Billy is doing great and you deserve a few hours off. Your kid won’t always be throwing food and torturing dogs so it’s not a big deal. But now that our kids are bigger and walking that line where they are closer to young adult than baby. . .the kind and decent thing to do IS to tell you. The loving, “I-know-you-are-a-great-person-and-your-kids-will-be-too” thing is to say, “hey friend, I’ve noticed a pattern with your kid, and you might want to address it.”
Is it incredibly hard for BOTH the one telling you AND the one receiving the news? YES.
Is that person risking their friendship by going out on a limb and telling you (or me) something hard? Also yes. Yet they think that both you and your child are worth it.
I have always said, I don’t want my love for my children to blind me to reality.
I want my kids to learn lessons and be accountable now, when the stakes are small, rather than when they have families, careers or even their freedom on the line.
So take off those blinders and do the hard, right thing with your kids and I will too.
We can talk about the really tough job of parenting and how our kids somehow both break our hearts and cause them to burst with joy in the same breath.
We can care enough about each other to tell the truth and to believe it. We can collectively not judge these kids but instead model love and growth.
We must realize that our great kids are sometimes jerks. Because ALL great kids are sometimes jerks, and helping them is our job. But also because great-jerk-kids who never learn the error of their ways become actual jerk adults and ain't nobody got time for anymore of those in this world.