I received a txt from my young son, a thirteen year old, asking if he could do a tandem skydive jump with his friend. I replied I thought not, but would discuss with his dad. His father was equally quick to say no.
While I believe it is the right decision, I felt mean. So I put it to my FB friends 'Would you let your 13 year old do a tandem skydive?'. They all came back with a resounding no.
I went to another online group I'm a member of, that spans the globe. Men and women of all ages were also a collective 'no'.
I am ashamed to say I showed my son all of this, the Facebook polling because I still felt mean. He was annoyed with me, even though his father is equally to blame in the decision. It is the cross of the stay at home mum to bear, taking all the blame for joint decisions. I hate being the bad guy. It hurts when you know they don't like you.
I'm not proud I felt I needed permission to say no, and I'm not proud that I wanted my son not to blame me. I wanted him to see I wasn't being unreasonable. The fact is, I'm the parent. It's my job. Knowing I am making the right choice should be enough. I am not his friend, I'm his parent. Denis Leary sums it up in his book 'Why we suck' which I have quoted many a time to friends. "Will your kid hate you? Yup. And here's a little headline for you: your kids are SUPPOSED to hate you. YOUR KID IS YOUR KID - NOT YOUR GODDAM BEST FRIEND.
Believe me - they may hate your fat-ass now but they will thank you immensely later on." He goes on later, with what I think is the hardest part of parenting. "My mom always kept our feet nailed hard and fast to the ground. She told us no when we wanted to hear yes and my dad was right there to back her up." This book is not for everyone, and it's not really a parenting book, but I find this truth useful to clutch onto when struggling with the difficult teen parenting in this world were you often feel alone in standing up to their children. Leary seems extremely fond of his parents, and is now promoting their hard line rules that were the norm in the sixties and seventies, but seem old fashioned now, so his comments seem to hold water to me.
I just wish sometimes doing the right thing felt better.
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