I’m sure you, like me, view yourself as a pretty darn hip parent.
After all, we use hipster social media (facebook, snapchat, twitter), sprinkle our “conversations” with universal acronyms (lol, ty, nvm, ttyl), and can discern others’ emotions via little yellow round faces. Some of us even share clothes with our teenagers and know how to “dab” and “nae nae.” Surely our kids see us through the same lens we see ourselves, right? Hmmm. Or maybe not.
Hence, it might be a good practice to periodically look at ourselves through the eyes of our child. Then adjust accordingly. Maybe.
When our five children were much younger (elementary and middle school age), my husband was overwhelmed with a demanding job that ate up his week days and took him away from our home for weeks at a time as he worked across the globe. Sadly, days would sometimes pass before a child would ask, “Hey, where’s Dad? I haven’t seen him lately.”
One evening, he was called upon to discipline an unruly child, because my reservoir of energy generally was depleted shortly after getting breakfast (oops, I meant dinner) on the table. Our youngest, Ryan, was about seven on this particular night when Kevin sent him to his room for misbehaving. Unlike his older siblings, who tended to fear their father’s stature (figuratively and literally), Ryan would dig his heels in and claim righteousness. Admonished to his room for the night, privileges taken away, he lay in his bed ranting a new mantra:
“WORK, PUNISH, SLEEP! WORK, PUNISH, SLEEP! That’s all Dad does: WORK, PUNISH, SLEEP!!!”
Of course, it wasn’t true. Not really. But through the eyes of a seven-year-old little boy at the bottom of the family energy chain, it was his perception of reality. Kevin and I laughed and even thought about designing a Daddy t-shirt with the acronym WPS. Instead, we reflected and adjusted accordingly.
Cathy Markey, the parent of five children aged 14 to 24, is confident she now can handle most of life’s challenges, having survived an accumulated 30 years of raising teenagers (thus far) — and 17 Wisconsin winters. A firm believer in the value of learning from one another, she enjoys sharing tidbits of lessons learned along the way.