Don’t Try to Be the Cool Parents
(This is a blog repeat. I wrote it a few years ago for Father’s Day.)
A Father’s Day Encouragement to Young Parents
A while back I wrote about how pleasantly surprised we were by the message of the film “In Good Company.” By the previews it looked like a mindless plot about the romance between a hot-shot young executive (Topher Grace) and the college-age daughter (Scarlett Johansson) of the man whose place he took (Dennis Quaid) after a company buy-out.
But the romance is short-lived. The movie isn’t about that. Rather, it’s about the fathering of this young exec by the man he replaced. Near the end, he says to this older guy after being punched in the eye for sleeping with his daughter: “No one ever took the time to give me a hard time.”
What a great line.
I want to encourage all you younger parents out there in blogsphere. It is hard to be the parent who lovingly gives a hard time. It’s hard to be the one who enforces tv/computer time limits, homework, and bedtimes. It’s difficult to set age-appropriate limits to movies when “every other kids’ parents let them watch whatever they want.” It’s tough to be firm when you’re exhausted from work and life’s stresses.
But hang in there! Your kids are counting on you — whether they yet know it or not. (I just saw a teenager on the plane whose t-shirt had two words: NO LECTURES!)
Your children need to know that YOU are the parent. In too many homes, the children run everything by parents who are overly-eager to please. If they don’t like the Bible class, they don’t have to go. If they have more friends at another church, the family leaves. If they want to eat unhealthily — well, we reassure ourselves that at least they’re eating something. If there is a problem with a coach or a teacher, the child is always assumed to be right.
Be the adult! Be the loving, compassionate, tender, but very-much-in-charge parent! It’s one of life’s ironies: that the one thing kids say they don’t want (rules and limits) is what they need.
I’m not talking, of course, about being a tyrant or about being inflexible. I’m talking about being lovingly in charge.
It may seem to kids that parents who mind their own business, don’t serve vegies, let them wear whatever is in style, allow unlimited time on the net to chat, permit any movie to be shown when friends come over, and ask no questions about where they’re going in the evening are the cool parents.
Here’s my encouragement: Don’t try to be the cool parents. Be the parents who take the time and the love to give a hard time.
Eventually, when your kids age a bit, they’ll know that you really were the cool parents.