It's not a popularity contest

Parent Connection

October 28, 2010 

My past week or so reminds me of my trips to the zoo when I was a child. Let me be clear. I'm not saying that I've been having so much fun lately that warm, fuzzy memories of meek giraffes, sweet zebras and lovely exotic birds flood my mind. What I'm saying is that life lately has been like an assortment of wild animals that would tear me apart for a mid afternoon snack if Mr. Zookeeper forgot to secure the gate.

Today isn't about me as newspaper columnist. It's about you as parent, stepparent, single parent, or grandparent. No matter what your role or what stage of Parenting you find yourself, the lions, tigers and bears are roaming.

"I hate you, Mom. All the other girls in my 5th grade class dress like this." "But Dad, if I don't play year round soccer, no way I'll make varsity in high school. I know that's years away, but these coaches talk to each other and..." "I can't believe you won't let me have a laptop in my room. It's my room. I'm just going to use it to do my homework."

It's almost as if getting attacked by a famished grizzly doesn't seem so bad. It's not easy Parenting in our present culture. It's demanding, stressful and exasperating at times. I feel your pain. But responsible Parenting takes sacrifice, and I can't help but think that this is a missing component in many of today's Parenting toolboxes.

What? You're kidding, right? Sacrifice is all I do as a parent! Every time I turn around I'm giving up my time and energy -- and not to mention my money. Today's millennium parents do sacrifice time and expense for their kids -- perhaps too much.

However, what so many parents today don't sacrifice is the emotional pain that comes with ignoring what their kids think of them when they say "no way." You see, often is the case in which parents will do anything to keep their children and teens happy and never, ever mad at them as mom or dad. Not only is there pressure to keep little Billy or Susie happy, but "we just have to always be pals" is the mindset of many. It doesn't stop there. Countless parents today make decisions based upon what other parents think and do as well.

Sacrifice? You bet. Responsible parents will sacrifice the opinion of others, including their kids, in order to do what's right. Don't hesitate to keep your 5th grade daughter dressed like an 11-year-old, your son spending a reasonable amount of time in youth sports, and the family computer set up in your den so online activity can be monitored.

You won't win a popularity contest, but who cares. You'll be quite popular with your young adult children sooner than you think.

Bryan Greeson, a nationally certified School Psychologist, serves as the Director of Special Services in York School District One. E-Mail him at parentconnection@hotmail.com.

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