Parenting in a Fish Bowl

A social media post in a local community group caught my attention this week!

Upon first inspection my reaction was oh no thats appalling!!!! Upon second inspection my reaction was oh my gawdd, 2 of those boys are mine!!!! I realised that the statement “their parents must be proud” was in fact directed at me and implied somehow that I was responsible for these boys behaving like “delinquents”. Was I proud of their reported behaviour in this instance? Absolutely not!! However, did I need a complete stranger (even if his intentions were to protect the general public) to insinuate that this behaviour is somehow connected to my parenting? Here lies a resounding and most definite no thank-you!!!

If there is one thing I never ever try to do and that is judge others on their parenting. I know people over the years have thought of me as a bit of a soft touch with my kids, especially because I am generally quite a patient person and don’t like to shout (unless I really have to). My approach is and always will be preferably to discuss and come up with solutions, my Montessori friends will understand this when I say I try to use “Peace Table” tactics.

However, this post did get me to thinking and asking myself, if I was in fact proud of my boys? My 14 year old is always asking me if I am, and whilst not all of the behaviour fills me with pride, generally I think they are pretty good kids and I always tell them that is not them that I don’t like, but their behaviour. They really do always worry that I don’t “love” them, after they have done something wrong!!!! As if I could ever do that.

I really don’t envy being a teenager today, as I honestly think that now it is 10 times worse than anything that I went through. They probably have very similar situations although the internet does put a new twist on things. They are constantly having to make decisions and choices about how to be and how to behave only now, it’s all under the watchfull eyes (thanks to Social Media), of as it turns out…………….everyone!!. It’s like they are being parented in a Fish Bowl.

After addressing the issue with the boys and doling out the advice and consequences for behaviour like that in public, and as it turns out the younger one was just in the wrong place at the wrong time, I got to thinking about how much they do actually make me proud.

  • I’m proud that they are able to recognise when behaviour is not acceptable like bullying and shaming especially when it comes from adults.
  • I’m proud that my 14 year old still likes to kiss me goodbye in front of his friends.
  • I’m proud of how they feel they can talk to me about things that matter to them.
  • I’m proud of how they recently moved away from all their friends to live in a new area, and new home and at how well they have adapted.
  • I’m proud at how they recognise that my relationship with Pistol makes me happy and accept that the move was inevitable in order for us to be together and they never complained.
  • I’m proud that eventually they always admit to doing something wrong and accept the consequences.
  • I’m proud that my sons friends parent’s tell me that they are always polite and helpful.
  • I’m proud that they take pride in their appearance (eventhough they like “named brands” that cost a fortune).

I believe I have done everything in my power to raise them well and a large proportion of that time I’ve done on my own as a solo parent which often gives people licence to blame any shortfalls in children’s behaviour.

But quickly, lets get back to my parenting skills in relation to the crime. Did I:

  1. Spit
  2. Swear
  3. Abuse Old Ladies
  4. Litter
  5. Smoking
  6. Destruction of Property

Clearly, because I am “technically” an old lady myself, most definitely wouldn’t condone no. 3!!

I talked at length to them and asked them to explain exactly what happened and they were perfectly honest with me. A lot of their story was very credible and they didn’t deny 4 out of the 5 accusations. and 3. had a perfectly understandable explanation. Yes I know a lot of you will be exclaiming “teenager” “honesty”, do these two words actually go together? Well, I do!! I cannot go through my kids teenage years constantly calling them liars. Yes, there may have been a couple of times when they may have not told the truth, this understandably comes from a place of not wanting to get a punishment. Haven’t we all done this at some point of our lives? Are we all complete angels, that we haven’t fabricated the truth a little to get ourselves out of a tight spot. Good on you if you haven’t, I wouldn’t judge you on being an outstanding citizen with a completely clean record if you don’t judge me on being a real person whose made mistakes.

I actually did make contact with the person who wrote that post and I assured him that it wasn’t a lack of parenting that led to their behaviour. He was relieved, and accepted that it was possibly peer pressure. I pointed out which boys belonged to me and requested that he contact me directly should he be concerned for their behaviour in public again.

I also asked him nicely to please take down the post in view of the fact that my eldest son is a work in progress and that I didn’t need the whole community “judging” him when we were trying so hard to help him become a better “citizen”. I also believed that the post somehow gave him “fame” status amongst his peers, which again was not the best outcome.

As a final farewell, I wished him good luck with his young son for the teenage years to come.

How’s your parenting going? Are you in the teenage years now? I’d love to hear your experiences.

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