Just Because We’re Your Parents

My daughter was getting ready to go to her grandmother’s house. I laid out a spaghetti strap top and a pair of shorts on the ironing board and was about to turn on the iron when she began to protest.

She had already chosen a dress. I told her that the dress was a bit inappropriate because she was only going to her grandma’s and something light and casual would be more suitable. But she insisted that she wanted to wear the dress. I reminded her that she had already air marked the dress for an event in the coming week and that it would be more appropriate to wear then. At that point, my husband walked in and said ‘Why do you keep explaining and reasoning with Kelci?’ He turned to her ‘You are NOT wearing the dress. You are going to wear this. And this is the end of the conversation!’

She put her hand on her head and grunted. ‘Just because you’re my parents, doesn’t mean that you all can rule me!’

Ohhhhhh. No she didn’t. Her first pre-teen outburst. And over a dress!!

‘Excuse Me?’ I said.

‘Don’t you EVER talk to us like that! EVVVEERRR. And YES,
Just because we’re your parents it means that we have to love you
Just because we’re your parents it means that we have to feed you
Just because we’re your parents it means that we have to put a roof over your head
Just because we’re your parents it means that we want what’s best for you
Just because we’re your parents it means that we have to care what happens to you
Just because we’re your parents it means that we have to teach you morals and values
Just because we’re your parents it means that we have to ground you in spirituality
Just because we’re your parents it means that we have to make sacrifices for you
Just because we’re your parents it means that we have to indulge your interests
Just because we’re your parents it means that we have to make choices for you that you are not mature enough to make for yourself 
Just because we’re your parents it means that we are responsible for you
Just because we’re your parents it means that we have to discipline you however we believe is fair and appropriate
Just because we’re your parents it means that we always have your best interest at heart
And yes, just because we’re your parents, until you’re old enough, it means that we are in charge and WE do RULE!
We are the King and Queen of this castle and while you live in our kingdom, WE RULE. PERIOD!

I let out a long breath. My husband stood there recording.
‘You need to get that on a poster and stick it up in her room’ he said.

I shook my head. I don’t know what came over me, but I felt the need to remind my eleven year old daughter that we were in charge. The teen years were coming soon and I needed to become firmer with her and change things around a bit.

You see, when we grew up, our parents RULED. They were the dictators and we never had a say. We didn’t question their decisions because we learned early on not to ‘talk back’ to our parents. We vowed to change things when we had our own kids, and so, from an early age we began giving our children a ‘voice’. Because of this, our children have been part of the decision making process and have felt empowered. (Because sometimes, their ideas were actually more rational than our own.)

But as the kids get older, that ‘voice’ that we gave them before, begins to challenge us. Because they have been included in adult decision making in the past, they begin to feel that they have the ability to make decisions on their own. They begin to feel and act like an adult long before they even reach puberty. And they feel justified in their thoughts and actions, because after all, the adults value their opinion. And even if deep down they KNOW that we are the REAL adults, they begin to ‘inch’ in with their justifications and rationale for why decisions should be in their favor. And we find ourselves talking to them as adults; justifying our actions, and reasoning with them, like we’re fighting for our jobs.
Well, we’re not. We need to remind ourselves that we are the parents.

While I believe in giving my child a voice, I also believe in taking a stand and being the dictator when I need to be. My mom always used to tell us ‘You are not my master’. And we used to roll our eyes and complain. (Behind her back of course). But our parents were strict and made decisions that they thought were in our best interest. If they said ‘no’ we did not asked ‘why’. And on the odd occasion that we did, more often than not, the answer would be ‘Because I said so’ or ‘I said no, what part of no don’t you understand’. There was no explanation or justification.

And while in hindsight I believe sometimes a short explanation would have made me feel better, I also know that giving just a ‘short explanation’ opens the door to a long adult discussion that sometimes leaves me questioning my ‘gut’ feelings. And as an adult, I need to stick to my guns and go with my gut.

I think we can go half way though. We will not stifle our daughter completely. She can have a ‘small’ voice. We will offer one reason, explanation, rational. ONE. But then there will be no further discussion, because we are the parents and WE are in charge.

I can only hope that our daughter respects our choices as parents, as all decisions we make on her behalf are based in love and out of respect for her. The teen years are coming, and we will be very busy!

Life is short. If you are a parent…Lead.

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