I didn’t know it then, but before my eldest started junior kindergarten this September, life was simple. Taking an extra eight months away from the office after her mat leave to be with the boys (and because two kids in Toronto daycare is really expensive), Sarah took the boys on various adventures as they grew. I mean, it obviously wasn’t perfect—I’m not entirely sure how Sarah finished those twenty months with her sanity intact—but for the most part, we were in control. We taught them what we wanted, chose what stimuli affected them, and saw them grow in the world we created for them.
But what we hadn’t considered was a new factor just over the horizon—something we couldn’t control that’d affect our son in entirely new ways.
Other. People’s. Kids.
The Problem When How You See Your Kids Isn’t How They Are.
Generally, parents are too ready to think of their kids as precious little angels, incapable of anything that’d label them as a “bad kid.” Yet somehow, my kid comes home with stories of a few children who terrorize the others with their bullying. Or others calling them names. Or—worse yet—bad behaviour he starts emulating himself.
I’m sorry—my kid’s not perfect, and none of yours is either. I expect him to fail and make mistakes in the hope he’ll learn from his experiences, making him a better person for it in the future.
However, though I expect him to make mistakes, it doesn’t give him a free pass. There’s behaviour I simply won’t tolerate, and if I catch wind of it, there will be repercussions. That means no bullying other kids. No calling them names. Understanding respect, compassion, and treating other kids the way he wants to be treated. He won’t always listen, and we’ll need plenty of tries before he gets it right, but if I’m sending him out into the world each day without parental supervision, I need faith he’ll be a positive member of his community, or I haven’t done my job as his Dad.
Which is why when he comes home and drops bombs like “fuckshit” at breakfast, I find myself wondering whether other parents see things the way I do. It’s already tough enough being a kindergarten kid, with new routines and a world that’s larger than your home. Why complicate it with kids who’ll lead their peers down dangerous paths in word and deed?
We have to take accountability for our kids.
We Gotta Parent Our Kids, Y’all.
I accepted these things early on as a Dad:
- I am not a perfect parent
- My children are not perfect kids
- I am their parent, not their friend
- I can’t live their lives for them, just equip them to live life well
It’s tough to remember when you’re in the midst of it, but you only get one shot at parenting your kids. You need to be present, firm and consistent in what you do to mould the people and relationships you want in the future, or you’ll spend a lot more time undoing things down the road than you would had you paid attention in the first place!
Our children aren’t perfect, but they look to us to help them define what’s right and what’s wrong.
It’s time we step up and help them today, so they’re not repeating our mistakes tomorrow.