Temper: verb (used with object), to soften or tone down
The other day I got into a discussion about a Facebook post of mine ranting about the often inconsiderate requests of my older children. At the end of the discussion a little rant on Facebook had led to a ten minute discussion on whether my kids, or young adults that stay at home are spoiled. I don’t think that “spoiling” is the natural result of allowing a young college student to reside at home, especially in these economic times; while a friend believes otherwise. We are both entitled to an opinion and differing opinions do not lead to the demise of any relationship.
But, of course, this stayed on my mind for a while. And after sitting with it for a moment, I realized that, in this case and in many others, it is not the fact that we disagree about how to parent/discipline/essentially raise well-rounded adults that contribute positively to the home and community. It is the force with which opposing opinion is given.
I am a single mother. I am raising my kids as I choose to raise them basing my choices on experience, trial-and-error, studies of child psychology, my upbringing, new technologies and practices. I am raising my kids how I see fit to raise them because, well, they are mine. So, when someone comes along and questions my judgement or accuses me, with a passive-aggressive “well-that-is-not-how-I-was-raised” tone, then I can sometimes take offense.
I don’t care how your mother and father raised you. I don’t care what they thought was appropriate for a child to do or not do. You mother and father are not raising my children….as a matter of fact, it has been at least 25 years since they last raised a child. So, exactly how should I structure my child rearing of social-media influenced teens around the practices and beliefs of those that didn’t even have social media. Times have changed. Things are different.
I don’t know all of the answers. I am painfully aware of that and I don’t like to live under the pretense of being all-knowing. Sometimes, I don’t know, I don’t want to know and, I would prefer if mine could give me a break and just ask someone else. But, it is just me. So I pick a platform….facebook…this blog….telephone…shower…and I rant, as often as the release is needed. But, when I am finding relief by ranting about how selfish they are for asking me to do one more thing, it is not a good idea to chime in with ripping apart their character. Chime in…please…but, temper your response because at the end of the day:
1. We may not agree.
2. You only have a tiny piece of the pie.
3. These ARE my babies. (no matter how grown they are)
4. I brought them into this world; I have the right to talk about taking them out.
Needless to say, I get a bit bothered sometimes. Rightfully so, I believe. Because an attack on my kids is really, ultimately, an attack on my parenting choices/belief system and until you have walked a mile in my shoes or even five steps, you should not have “the brass” (I liked it when Bill said it) offer untempered critique. I am not wrong because I don’t agree with you. My kids won’t be forever damaged goods (spoiled) or disrespectful delinquents because at two years old I did not make them speak to the strangers (to them) that came into the house to visit mommy.
This brings me to me because what I expect of others I must also expect of myself, right? I know that tempering oneself is a prerequisite to any conversation with a parent about their trifling, unappreciative, irresponsible, arrogant, selfish, bad-ass kid. I know because I know my reaction when a dear friend or even a family member makes the mistake of going ever so slightly too far. (I have had to catch myself with my mother at times…”hold on mom, that’s my baby we are talking about”) I know and yet, I still get caught in the uncomfortable position of having run off at the mouth, unexpectedly, and having to back-pedal to try to stop the offense before the offense is realized.
How do I tell my friends their kid is bad and I don’t want my son around him?
How do I encourage my friend to get help for his son where there is clearly a developmental problem that he is sadly missing?
How do I remember that in all cases, no matter how close the relationship, it is best to temper yourself when talking about someone’s kids? And, more importantly, how do I get my friends to learn to temper themselves?