How are you parenting wrong?

by Honolulu Mother

How are you parenting wrong?

Now I want to try Twitch Plays Parenting. My sons would pay more attention to that than my actual parenting.

My failings that I’m aware of are probably: insufficient tigering, does not hold their feet to the fire enough on chores, not always willing to listen to some long account of some tedious thing. In other words, all the things that result from getting home tired and with not that long a time to get everyone fed in the evening. My failings that I’m not aware of, I’ll hear about years from now.

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145 thoughts on “How are you parenting wrong?

  1. TRADITIONAL PARENTING: You have six children and all of them perish before age 4.

    It’s funny ’cause it’s true.

  2. One of the comments was kind of funny:

    Career Path Parenting: My child just ate a crayon. The next Picasso! Wait. She took apart a toy. An engineer! Wait. She looked into the dog’s mouth. A dentist!

  3. This is a good Friday topic! I agree with the conclusion, no matter what I do it will somehow be wrong. I know that things I feel my parents did wrong, I try to avoid and maybe too much. I think the type of parenting depends on the situation. I lean free-range to a degree, but also tend to tiger a bit on my oldest and in certain new situations – especially where parents are expected to be involved, I tend to free-range helicopter.

  4. My poor kid can complain to her therapist later about ping-pong parenting, from the comments: “Mom and dad tag-team on which parenting style to use until child reaches 21. Game over.”

  5. Definitely a Tiger Mom, but that’s not a surprise :)

    I guess I also qualify as Joan Crawford because DD is writing her memoirs, in which I alternate between “Best mom EVER” and “the Evil Witch Queen.” I’m putting in my own foreword when she publishes that one.

  6. I realize that the sentiment is usually expressed mostly in sarcasm, but I’ve never embraced this whole “I’m sure I’m screwing up somehow” sentiment (which will come as a surprise to nobody here).

    We work hard to be good parents, and I’m not afraid to say that we are good parents. That’s enough.

  7. “Mom and dad tag-team on which parenting style to use until child reaches 21. Game over.”

    Pretty sure that’s us right now.

    I managed lazy parenting last night: You’re too far away for me to care that you just smashed your head on the ground.

    DS was sitting on the floor between my legs, playing with my pants. He looked up at me, toppled backwards with an audible thunk. My arms were too far away to care that his flat spot may now be permanent. Oh course when I picked him up, I immediately fretted. But there was a few seconds where I really thought “Oh you’re fine! Get over it!”.

  8. Awesome article! Made my day! We’re pretty good parents. DH says I do too much for the kids and that I’m too overprotective. I know he’s right.

  9. That was very funny HM. Thanks for the laugh.

    I’m a Backseat Driver Parent unfortunately. And I don’t have Milo’s optimism that I am a good parent or at least an okay one. I try really, really hard, though.

  10. I realize that the sentiment is usually expressed mostly in sarcasm,

    I don’t think it is for most (almost all) people.

  11. I think we’re pretty good parents overall, although I know I’m inconsistent sometimes (often?). My oldest’s current complaints about me are that I never buy her cereal, that I don’t volunteer in her classroom enough (because you know, I have this thing called work to do during the day), and that I don’t let her eat candy every day.

  12. Milo, I read an article about college kids going into therapy because they were raised too perfectly. Their problem was that they had no problems, and that led to ennui.

  13. Milo you may be the best parent God ever made but remember the poem by Burns about the dressed up lady and the louse.

    O wad some Pow’r the giftie gie us
    To see oursels as ithers see us!
    It wad frae mony a blunder free us,
    An’ foolish notion:
    What airs in dress an’ gait wad lea’e us,
    An’ ev’n devotion!

    All the parenting types described in the link don’t I am sure see themselves as others do . I don’t quite see events same the way my now grown kids did nor does my little kid see the things the same way the much older siblings do. Its all a matter of perspective.

  14. I am sitting in a conference session watching a boring presentation on app development frameworks. I had to work hard to keep from laughing when I read this. Spot on!

    I have always pegged myself as a tiger-lite parent, aspring to tiger but without the balls or cultural framework to really pull it off. I’d like to be a French parent though – pass me the wine!

  15. I have a theory that the reason our generation became helicopter parents is because we were all raised by free range parents, and we realized it actually sucked. Every generation of parents tried to reverse all the things they saw as wrong with their upbringing, of course doing everything wrong in a different way.

    I actually don’t mind helicopter parents. But there is such a thing as drone parents – sort of like helipcopters but with the ability to blast enemies to smithereens. Those parents are scary!

  16. I am good enough, but I know I fail in some areas: I am helicoptery/tigerish about some things and totally neglect other things. This is probably not good if my kids’ interests/skills are different from mine. I also forget they are little kids sometimes and have much too high of expectations. And I don’t really like babies much. I took care of mine and did all of the right things, but it was almost all drudgery for me. I greatly prefer the terrible 2s, and 3 and up are awesome.

  17. Anon – I didn’t say I’m the best; I said I’m good, and that that’s enough. According to Houston’s perspective, good might actually be better than best.

  18. SitCom parent. Sometimes I’m too zany. Need to shut up and listen. I am also constantly worried that I am spending too much time with the other child and that the child in question is one step short of some sort of After School Special episode of one kind or another. Its exhausting this parenting.

  19. I love this topic and regret I have to leave in a bit to drive to Indy.

    AustinMom – I love your “free range helicopter” label.

    Copying Austin, I would call myself a free range tiger, I think. I’m 95% laissez faire and 5% get-these-three-things-done-and-report-back-to-me.

    As for mistakes, I’ve made plenty, especially in step parenting. You get less leeway in step relationships, so those mistakes tend to have a longer lasting effect. I’ve messed up plenty with my two as well, but those things are more easily smoothed over. In both cases, I’ve been quick to admit my error and apologize for it, and I’ve tried hard not to commit the same sin again. I know the kids have recognized that and for me, that’s the important thing. I’d rather be a very (very very!) flawed person who’s willing to cop to her flaws than be a far less flawed person who won’t admit her mistakes.

    Maybe I’m finally at a certain level of Zen, or maybe I’m just old, but at this point, I’m not beating myself up about any of it. I haven’t been perfect, but as a wise person has reminded me many times, it’s not about being perfect as a parent, step or otherwise. It’s about being “good enough.” I’ve been good enough.

  20. How timely! I had to hand out some unwelcome consequences to my son just this morning on our walk to school. Fun times. Parenting is hard; children are persistent and it is hard to be consistent and fair. I think we’re good parents and, Atlanta, I get the same complaints. Another recent one: Mom you never let us use knives or matches. All true. Houston – my husband says the same about me – I do too much and am overprotective. This is my only shot at this so I try really hard and sometimes that means being that way.

  21. Milo – When I look back at my childhood, there are things my parents did to really prepare me for life on my own. Their financial literacy was exceptional. However, I also see some huge gaps that my dad parents either (1) never thought about or (2) didn’t think was important.

    For example, my mom made 95% of my clothing over which I am almost no say in color, style or material. The 5% that was purchased was mainly shoes and my input was limited to the fit. It was very hard when I hit college and the work world to figure out what to wear. Thankfully, I had a friend who is very good at that who helped me some along the way, but I still struggle with clothing choice. Another example was that my dad was such a picky eater and my mom was very OCD in the kitchen so that my cooking was limited to very basic baking ALWAYS with mom’s supervision. I cooked in Girl Scouts outside on a fire, but never at home. I ate out A LOT initially in college (lived in an apt) which was also very expensive until I learned how to shop and cook.

    Does this make them awful parents? No, but it made for some hard transitions at times when there was enough other stuff going on. My reaction is to make sure my kids have input into their clothing and have some experience making these purchases and working through what is appropriate to wear when. I am also making sure my kids can cook. While I feel like I am not repeating my view of my parents’ mistakes, I am certain that I am not a perfect parent and both my kids will look back and say – Wow! I can’t believe my parents didn’t ever consider ___.

  22. The combination of “Disney parent” and the comments on gun control reminded me of a guy at work who was going to take his son deer hunting next month. Unfortunately, the son is playing Mufasa in the school play of “Lion King”. The Dad said Son couldn’t miss rehearsals to go deer hunting. Since Mufasa dies halfway through the play, they might get lucky if the teacher decides to rehearse the second half of the play for a couple days and be able to go for a long weekend.

  23. On Friday nights I am probably guilty of French parenting.

    My oldest is going to be really mad at me tonight as we are probably going to cancel our Brownie camping trip due to “historic flooding”.

  24. Sharknado parenting, more or less. It helps that much of the stuff that I did and that is now frowned upon or actually illegal is the “so bad” that makes up the “it’s good.”

    In a slightly different interpretation, David Hinckley of the New York Daily News said “Sharknado is an hour and a half of your life that you’ll never get back. And you won’t want to.” That’s how I really feel about my active parent years.

  25. Houston – you haven’t seen Sharknado?? It’s just amazing. So much fun, and stupidity, and wonder.

    I hope to be each and every one of these parents over the next 21 years. Kids won’t know what hit them. They’ll leave the house going “WTF just happened?” and pass the scotch.

  26. “I hope to be each and every one of these parents over the next 21 years. Kids won’t know what hit them. They’ll leave the house going “WTF just happened?” and pass the scotch.”

    Rhode – best line of the week!

  27. Before I had kids, I thought I was going to be a tiger mom — enroll them in all kinds of activities, push them hard to excel in school, etc. Now that I have kids, though, I find — for reasons that I don’t really understand — that I am pretty much the opposite of a tiger. As far as I’m concerned, the kids can do extracurriculars, or not — their choice. If they’re learning something at school, and if I’m not getting (too many) messages from school about academic or behavior issues, I think to myself, “Things are good! Nothing to worry about!” Perhaps this is ostrich parenting (sticking my head in the sand)?

    My husband, whom I had assumed pre-kid would be the lenient parent, has actually turned out to be sort of tiger-ish. Maybe DH and I balance each other out well. Or maybe that makes us the ping-pong couple who will drive our kids crazy.

  28. Rhode — Should one see the entire Sharknado trilogy, or is the first one the best (worst)?

  29. This is awesome. On good days, I am probably the Willy Wonka parent; on a bad day, more like Ping-Pong. Or, as I call it, Swoop-n-Poop parenting: you go free-range, until the kid hangs himself with all that extra rope, then you swoop in and helicopter until the kid’s back on track. Doesn’t help that DH tends toward Eric Cartman “respect my authori-tay” when he gets pissed, whereas I prefer to defuse and laugh where I can instead of getting wound up about everything.

    I suspect most parenting “fails” come from a mismatch between parent and kid personalities. DD tends toward my exact opposite, so the “parenting” responses that came naturally to me — all those things I thought a “good parent” would do based on my own upbringing and reading — were precisely wrong for her. But those same things work perfectly for DS. So the end result is that I spend 100x the time and effort on DD, figuring out what makes her tick and what works, but I am a much better parent to DS with just a small fraction of the effort. And it makes me sad that DD didn’t get the “right” parent for her own personality and needs, because she is a fundamentally awesome kid.

    Which in a way circles back to Milo’s comment — it reminds me of a discussion we had a while back about differing expectations. It was along the lines of I have 15 things to do, I get done 14, and then kick myself for failing on the 15th, whereas DH will set the goal of “child is still alive at bedtime” and then view himself as an overachiever if he gets the dishes done too. I think there is a lot of value in DH’s approach, which focuses on all the stuff you do right and scoffs at the notion that perfection is even a possibility, much less a reasonable goal. So when things get hard with DD, instead of getting down on myself, I try to focus on all of the people out there who could be screwing her up much more than I am. :-)

  30. I practice:
    PHILOSOPHICAL PARENTING: Because I said so, that’s why.
    The why is usually not apparent to the kids and if after an explanation there is still non compliance my crankiness (no philosophical parenting) shines through.

  31. @Louise: texts from me and DD a few days ago (backstory: she got in trouble for something, I discovered the issue while she was out with friends):

    Me: Come home now.

    DD: Why

    Me: Because I said so

    DD: Great no wonder you’re a lawyer

    Safe to say the rest of the evening wasn’t an improvement. :-)

  32. LfB,

    I’d love to send her to Lawyer camp.

    “Mrs. Smith saw you smoking in back of the school.”

    Objection! Hearsay!

  33. Now that I have kids, though, I find — for reasons that I don’t really understand — that I am pretty much the opposite of a tiger.

    NoB — in my case, pre-kids I had No. Freaking. Idea. how hard they were going to fight me on everything from the need to actually get homework done, to simple concepts like turning lights off when not in the room or not just dropping wrappers all over the floor. My daughter has finally gotten to the point of Taking Responsibility for Her Own Learning (meaning that she actually cares about her grades and has become a self-starter, not just that I’ve thrown my hands in the air and am letting the chips fall where they may). It’s such a sweet relief that I can forgive her most of the attitude and moodiness that has also accompanied her entry into the teen years.

  34. I’m barely enough of a Tiger Mom to get DS1 to pick up his room occasionally. Strangely, my twins are much more orderly even though they’re two years younger. I also Tiger Mom’d them into not eating their boogers.

  35. I’ve enrolled my eldest two in the Junior Litigators Society, where no doubt LfB’s DD can be their mentor :)

    My parents’ parenting experience was like Milo’s – my sister and I were naturally obedient and anxious to please, and never talked back because it simply never occurred to us it was possible. Nor were we argumentative or aggressive with anyone.

    When the grandchildren arrived my parents were completely stunned at how much harder it was to deal with them.

    Our personalities seemed to have had a multiplier effect in the children, and they are much more strong-willed than either of us ever were.

  36. HM — I think part of the reason I have turned out not to be tiger-ish is that given the kids that I have, I’m not sure that tigering would produce any measurable results. To be honest, my kids are not gifted in any way — they’re regular kids who will probably be perfectly well served by a regular education at a regular public school, and recreational-level participation in whatever outside activities they might be interested in. They’re still young, but I don’t realistically see them becoming superstars at any particular thing, so why push them the way you might push a kid who really has some sort of extraordinary potential that it would be a shame not to develop.

    On the other hand, my kids don’t seem to have any special needs (knock on wood), so I also haven’t had to go to the lengths that many parents on this board have to go through to make sure their kids get a fair chance in life.

    So just by virtue of the luck of the kid draw, I feel like I don’t need to take extraordinary measures either to develop my kids’ talents, or to navigate “the system” to make sure they are adequately provided for.

    Or maybe I’m totally wrong, and every kid (even those with no special talents or needs) could benefit from a lot of pushing and parental navigating, and I’m totally failing. But that’s where DH the semi-tiger-dad can step in and pick up my slack… :)

  37. …how hard they were going to fight me on everything from the need to actually get homework done, to simple concepts like turning lights off when not in the room or not just dropping wrappers all over the floor.

    This.

    I wish I had a nickel for every time I’ve said, “If you had spent the time and effort just doing ____ instead of arguing with me about it, you would be done by now and we could have ice cream!” And seriously, what’s the deal with wrappers everywhere? If you’re trying to sneak extra snacks without permission in your room where they’re not allowed, why do you not make any effort to hide the evidence?

  38. “My parents’ parenting experience was like Milo’s – my sister and I were naturally obedient and anxious to please, and never talked back because it simply never occurred to us it was possible.”

    This is definitely not true of #2. #1 goes back and forth.

  39. “the need to actually get homework done” – This is PRECISELY what we are struggling with with kid #1. If she is interested in it, YES it will get done and eagerly, but otherwise it’s an hour-long huge existential struggle that ends in “why? what is the point to LIFE?!” or similar, and in the meantime I am ready to bang my head against the wall bc if she would just STFU and do the effing homework, it would have been done an hour ago. GAH.

    My biggest failing right now is patience. I have very little. I loved babies and toddlers, so the kid-does-something-bad-to-get-attention thing (with all of them right now!!! ARGH) is driving me CRAZY.

  40. Milo, I should have said my parents were very sure they were great parents, like you :) And they were – for us!

    Their strictness was a good fit for our mostly obedient natures. Maybe your family is lucky enough to have another sort of good fit.

    Unlike you, my parents were very critical of everyone else’s parenting. “If they were only doing it the way we did, their kids wouldn’t ____.”

    It’s only now that they can’t manage my kids that they have started to question whether it was really their amazing disciplinary methods, or if we were naturally easygoing.

  41. Also, I don’t know where the kids got the litigator gene from (I certainly don’t have it!) but they try to argue everything and it is truly exhausting.

  42. L — For my two, the homework thing has gotten better as they’ve gotten older. I had terrible struggles with DS when he was in first and second grade; third grade was sort of a transition year, and by fourth grade he had gotten much better at doing his homework without making a fuss. Now, as a 6th grader, he gets his homework done as soon as he gets home with no nagging on my part. Woohoo!

    DD seems to be following a similar pattern. She would scream (literally) about homework in 1st and 2nd grade. Now, in third, she’s still a terrible procrastinator, but at least she ends up doing it, and doesn’t scream about it.

    But I know that my saying “it will probably get better” does nothing to help you right now. :(

  43. L, you could try reading them the Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle books at bedtime.

    We started one last week and now all I have to do is raise an eyebrow and suggest that I might have to google the recipe for Crybaby Tonic, and suddenly the pointless tantrum stops.

  44. L,
    Our kids love snack. That is a built in for our day. If you have a similar treat in your house, just say we are having “X” when homework is finished. This often works, but grade 2 is the hardest and grade 3 the easiest, in my experience.

  45. WCE- what was your trick with boogers? I swear socks and wrappers and Pokémon cards have learned how to procreate in our house. My son wrote a school essay on how in our house we use utensils. Amazing to see he actually has been listening to me. Now if he only would actually use them.

  46. Then again, for the last couple of weeks I’ve been involved in an epic struggle with my 6th grader, who turned out not to have been working at all on several projects that were all due around the end of the quarter.

  47. L – My DD likes to “negotiate” so much that everyone keeps saying she will grow up to be a lawyer and now it’s becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy with her saying that’s what she WANTS to do. I just realized that I should tell her lawyers have to write a lot too – that will either turn her off from the idea or get her to practice her writing.

    NOB – My 3rd-grader always wants to rush through homework to get it over with. This works about half the time, but the other half of the time it means that she misses something important, like the instructions, then flips out because she doesn’t know how to do it…which results in screaming (because it’s Mom’s fault, of course), throwing pencils, crying to Dad, etc. By the time she calms down an hour later and lets me read the instructions to her, she gets it done in 5 minutes. Oh, the drama!

  48. “If you had spent the time and effort just doing ____ instead of arguing with me about it, you would be done by now and we could have ice cream!”

    yes, I get so tired of hearing no and arguing with my toddler to do x small thing, it is exhausting, and would be easier to do task myself , but not going to get stuck doing that!

  49. “If you had spent the time and effort just doing ____ instead of arguing with me about it

    I think that on conference calls all the time.

  50. RMS – My 1st grader gets daily math and reading homework. If done without whining it takes 5 minutes. There is also optional math homework which “have been created in response to parents requesting extra practice and extra challenge”. Needless to say, we have yet to touch the optional homework. It might be killing her calculus grade in HS to not do extra now, but.I.just.can’t…..

  51. “Even the quaintness of having to depend on bike, horse or carriage to get around the island — because cars are outlawed — can be a drawback.”

    MMM?

  52. This is our house
    “And seriously, what’s the deal with wrappers everywhere? If you’re trying to sneak extra snacks without permission in your room where they’re not allowed, why do you not make any effort to hide the evidence?”

  53. “Career Path Parenting:”

    My kid’s jeans are loose and don’t stay up: A plumber!

  54. ““And seriously, what’s the deal with wrappers everywhere? If you’re trying to sneak extra snacks without permission in your room where they’re not allowed, why do you not make any effort to hide the evidence?”

    DW and I have decided that when DD has her own house, we will visit and leave snack wrappers randomly throughout her house.

  55. “DW and I have decided that when DD has her own house, we will visit and leave snack wrappers randomly throughout her house.”

    love this idea

  56. “““And seriously, what’s the deal with wrappers everywhere? If you’re trying to sneak extra snacks without permission in your room where they’re not allowed, why do you not make any effort to hide the evidence?”

    DW and I have decided that when DD has her own house, we will visit and leave snack wrappers randomly throughout her house.”

    My mom threatened to do that when I was a middle-schooler. The problem is, trash/clutter like that sends her clean streak into over-drive. She just can’t do it. So, I never go the “mom’s revenge of trash”… juxtapose that with her pack-rat tendencies (everything has sentimental value)….

  57. “Unlike you, my parents were very critical of everyone else’s parenting. ‘If they were only doing it the way we did, their kids wouldn’t ____.'”

    Oh, yeah, this was my mom — doubly puffed-up because she was a single/divorced mom when that meant Going Straight to Hell. Then she met DD. I got a *huge* internal laugh when she finally said, “hmm, or maybe I was just lucky and got a really easy baby.” :-)

  58. “DW and I have decided that when DD has her own house, we will visit and leave snack wrappers randomly throughout her house.”

    I am totally stealing this. And empty cups with chocolate milk residue. And outgrown shoes and dirty socks.

    This is right up there with Hummel skeet in my future plans.

  59. “Their problem was that they had no problems, and that led to ennui.”

    This brings to mind the pre-draft evaluation of Marcus Mariota: having no red flags was a red flag.

  60. I can see I need to start letting my children eat snacks with wrappers instead of fresh fruit. Better wrappers than apple cores left under the bed…

  61. Lemon– I am rolling at the idea of optional extra homework that parents *asked* for. Sigh. We just had a great parent-teacher conference where the teacher referred to our 5 year old as “mature” about 3 different times, and we were able to explain that by the time she gets home she runs out of steam for mature, and it turns into exhausted and cranky. So we have downgraded homework to something we do when you have energy and are in a good enough mood. Let her learn at school.

    I work on cases of abused and neglected children. So at one level I know that we are “good enough” parents. Our kids are loved, cared for, read to, properly supervised, hugged a lot, bathed regularly, well fed, etc. That said, with three of them I always feel like someone (ever rotating) is getting more attention and someone (ever rotating) needs extra attention, and it’s a constant shuffle to try and make sure everyone gets what they need.

    My oldest dd has that negotiator thing down. My newest thing is working on her tone. So if she wants to negotiate something, she’s got to ask in a vaguely mature, speaking tone. If she wants to whine her negotiations at us, she loses. (Some things, of course, are not up for negotiation.) I’m not sure what our actual parenting style is. Compared to some families I feel more or less free range, more or less helicopter-y, more or less tiger mom, etc. So much of those judgments depend on what the prevailing standards are among peers, etc.

  62. “Even the quaintness of having to depend on bike, horse or carriage to get around the island — because cars are outlawed — can be a drawback.”

    Does this mean the lineman will need to use a bike, horse, or carriage to transport his (or her) equipment? I can see where a lot of people might not want to deal with that.

  63. “Better wrappers than apple cores left under the bed…”

    Banana peels fall into the snack wrapper classification.

  64. “It’s only now that they can’t manage my kids that they have started to question whether it was really their amazing disciplinary methods, or if we were naturally easygoing.”

    “I got a *huge* internal laugh when she finally said, “hmm, or maybe I was just lucky and got a really easy baby.” :-)”

    Luckeeeee! My parents had to same “if everyone did it out way, everyone’s kids would be perfect” belief, but when they couldn’t handle my boys, that was absolute evidence of MY poor parenting!

  65. “I have a theory that the reason our generation became helicopter parents is because we were all raised by free range parents, and we realized it actually sucked.”

    Moosh, I am very grateful for my free range boyhood. Granted it was a half century ago or so, but I had a happy childhood on my own. It was my family that made things difficult.

  66. “I am rolling at the idea of optional extra homework that parents *asked* for.”

    I think that’s a great idea on the part of the teachers who provide that.

    I’ve mentioned here before how my sister, the teacher, used to complain about all the busywork homework her kids got, but she totally understood why the teachers assigned that homework, because of the complaints they would get from parents if they didn’t assign a lot of homework.

    This seems to be a great way to address those parents without burdening all of the kids and parents.

  67. I’ve been to Mackinac a lot. – even UPS delivers by horse wagon. Some guy at UPS has the job of loading the boat with packages, then loading the wagon, and carting around the island making deliveries. Although, there are two motorized vehicles – a fire truck and ambulance.

  68. What I do well is connect with my kids. I was a PITA and an absolute mystery to my sweet, compliant mother, so I grew up feeling like no one in my house actually knew me. So, a huge priority for me has been trying to really listen to my kids. I’ve done much better with #2, but am very close to #1 now that we got through the rocky spurt.

    Where I have not done well, and beat myself up over frequently, is provide the support they needed for their various learning issues at the time they needed. Sometimes demanded too much because I didn’t understand, then probably cut way too much slack.

    If you ask them, though, their main complaint is that their boring, stable lives have provided no fodder for the multitude of required essays where they should be discussing the defining moment in their life.

    One thing I admire about my parents is they never once said “I told you so”. I was a teen/young adult who just created opportunity after opportunity for them to say it. I just had to do things my way, no matter what. Knowing how much I appreciate that, I try to never say it. (My husband is another story!)

  69. “hmm, it said a CDL was required so I guess service vehicles are exempt from that rule?”

    Within the comments, one poster did say that there are exceptions to that rule – ambulance/fire/police, DPW, utilities… were the ones I remember off hand.

    Which gets me thinking – how good is there medical center? Like what if you require a trauma center? How often do they handle the issues that get lifted straight from the headlines and plunked into a Law & Order or ER episode?

  70. Finn– I agree it’s brilliant on the part of the teacher. I just imagine that the only parents freaked out about the “need” for extra homework are he ones whose kids are doing fine academically. To an extent that’s what we found out about the “weekly kindergarten math project” that was coming home. We talked about how hard it would be for us to pull that off, and she said, “Oh! Then don’t do it! Over the years I’ve had parents ask for more activities to do with their children, so I provide those. But we aren’t collecting them. So do what you want, save them for over the break, or do what works for you.” She got on my good side there!

  71. “I grew up feeling like no one in my house actually knew me. So, a huge priority for me has been trying to really listen to my kids.”

    More generally, I think a lot of us remember what we perceived as our parents’ shortcomings and try to avoid them, as well as try to reinforce what we thought our parents did well for us.

  72. Special to ptm since I don’t feel like posting on yesterday’s thread

    Nick’s works…how about Joe’s a different time?

  73. ” I just imagine that the only parents freaked out about the “need” for extra homework are he ones whose kids are doing fine academically.”

    That’s not what I heard from my sister. Many of the parents wanting the loads of homework were immigrants who were not well educated and not able to provide much if any help to their kids with the homework.

    The ones whose kids did fine academically, but wanted their kids to do more, are probably the ones who send their kids to places like Kumon.

  74. I have to agree with milo. We are good parents. We have been generally consistent…infrequently spineless. We have indeed learned from our mistakes, one of us usually faster than the other.
    I’d never class us as free range but we, especially I, have tried very hard to let them make decisions and do things on their own even when success is unlikely. Though Not when failure would have truly negative life altering consequences.
    Great? Maybe. Not for me to say.
    Good enough? You bet.

  75. no fodder for the multitude of required essays where they should be discussing the defining moment in their life.

    ::bangs head on table:: FFS, why aren’t they writing essays about the motif of yellow in Crime and Punishment or something reasonable like that? No wonder everyone keeps bitching about how Today’s Kids are narcissistic.

  76. Just wait until they leave the empty condom wrapper in the back pocket of the pair jeans you are laundering….

  77. How helicoptery are you? Your kid is going to take the SAT tomorrow. Do you:

    A. Have the date prominently marked on the calendar, make sure he’s done his practice, help pack and double check all the needed items (admission slip, pencils, calculator w/extra battery, id, snack, etc.), keep him home tonight to make sure he’s well rested, set your alarm to make sure kid is up on time, make a good breakfast and hover over while he eats it, drive the kid to test location?

    B. Mark the date on the calendar and remind your kid to make sure he has everything ready.

    C. Vaguely remember it’s test day tomorrow, and let your kid make sure he gets himself and everything he needs to the location on time.

    D. Only realize your kid has taken the SAT after he comes home from taking the test?

  78. Just wait until they leave the empty condom wrapper in the back pocket of the pair jeans you are laundering….

    To Milo’s good enough point. Well, at least they used a condom.

  79. Meme, I’ve been wondering if some of the funky smell in my oldest son’s room has a cause I’d rather not think about.

  80. I’m confident totebaggers are good enough or better, but we let our guilt and ruminations get the better of us sometimes.

  81. COC, I’m an A-. I would cook breakfast on the morning of the SAT, make sure the kid is awake and takes a shower, and remind him to get his stuff together the night before. The kid needs a little attention before an important test. I wouldn’t do this for regular tests, though.

  82. “not always willing to listen to some long account of some tedious thing”

    Oh boy, I can relate. Both the physical and verbal activities can wear me out.

  83. To Milo’s good enough point. Well, at least they used a condom.

    People will actually be shocked to find out thier kids have sex as teenagers?

  84. I really hated that time I drove my kid to the SAT location and he realized when we got there that he had forgotten his ID. This was at the school SAT location where they made the kids go through metal detectors to get in the building, so we had gotten there early in anticipation. Some of you may have just let the kid learn his lesson, but I rushed back home and retrieved his ID just in the nick of time. (But I very rarely drove a forgotten lunch or clarinet to the school.)

    Of course, I doubt my kid remembers any of this.

  85. To the earlier point about the stolen food wrappers, I might be surprised that they didn’t care to hide the evidence.

    Which bets the question, Meme, what’d you do with it?

    Honolulu– Sounds like there is at least a natural point at which your kid might be responsible for his own laundry, right?

  86. CoC– I imagine I’d do the same for the SAT. Not for everyday stuff, but that seems an exception. Not to mention, I remember extra nerves that day which would have made it easier to space out on something obvious.

  87. I don’t think my parents were entirely aware of when I was taking the SAT. I drove myself. When I got home, my Mom was in the living room discussing fabric samples with a decorator.

  88. I was an A- when DS took his SAT, mainly because he doesn’t have his license yet and I didn’t want him to have to wake up really early to catch the bus. He did all the test prep himself.

    I’m hoping the next time he can drive himself (that’s what I did the one time I took it) so I can be more of a B.

  89. I couldn’t drive when I took the SAT so my mom brought me; this was also back in the day when you didn’t need an ID (I didn’t have one of those either, except a passport).

  90. I laughed a lot at both the article and the responses – everyone is very funny today!

    I think we did ok with our kids; they are now adults, although one is still in college. They have had only minor mess ups that we know of, though I’m sure there are some we will never know about, and that is just fine with DH and me.

    I think I am a mix of tiger/free range, and hopefully I picked the right times to be tigerish. I have one concrete example that worked: DS wanted to quit boy scouts and we wouldn’t let him. We told him he could quit at the end of the school year (he was wanting to quit during his second year), but by the end of that year he was starting to like it more and there was no more talk about quitting. I think getting to point where he started to be in charge of things and other scouts made the difference. Anyway, he ended up becoming an Eagle Scout, going to a World Jamboree and working during the summer at his old camp. I think his experiences had a big impact on his life. I will say that DH and I agonized over making him stay in it, worrying that we were being too mean and he would be scarred for life.

    Oh, on the standardized tests, I drove my kids crazy asking if they had the right pencils!!!

  91. Meme, what’d you do with it?

    I’d say throw it away and don’t mention it but file it away for use as an amusing anecdote, 30 years hence, when they have teenagers of their own.

  92. I’m a B to CoC’s question.

    And to meme’s…didn’t have that but DW did find a pair of lacy pink bikini panties in the boys’ hamper once. One was away at college and the youngest wasn’t there yet (may still not be). It was an interesting and fun conversation when middle kid came home that night and saw them (washed) on the otherwise pristine kitchen island.

  93. “I’m confident totebaggers are good enough or better, but we let our guilt and ruminations get the better of us sometimes.”

    I don’t know that it’s always that. A lot of totebaggers are where they are in life in part because they’re always interested in learning how to do things better. A lot of us also got better as parents by taking to heart some of what we learned here and TOS.

  94. Fred, I think most, if not all, of us are eager to read whatever you care to share about how you dealt with that situation. I don’t know how I’d handle a situation like that, other than to reiterate the necessity of being responsible about the possibility of STDs and pregnancy. And not being a jerk.

    I like to think I was an easy kid on my parents in part because I was good at avoiding conflicts and awkward situations with them. They let me know where they stood, and if I disagreed, I wouldn’t argue or outwardly rebel.

  95. Finn, I will add more but I think it’s more than I want to type on my phone from JFK tonite.

  96. It was not a shock to me, but when I showed the evidence to his father and said, I think you should have a talk with him, he pretended it wasn’t there and said something like, I’m sure it’s not what you think. That was one of the many final nails in the marital coffin. By the time I found a similar wrapper under the bed of the youngest son 8 years later, the solo parental duty was formalized legally and I informed him that I would start coming home from work early on random days without calling ahead.

  97. Well, my kid is taking the SAT tomorrow and I’m probably an A-. He’s out with friends tonight, and he’ll drive himself tomorrow. But I’ll make him breakfast.

  98. My friends with HS kids are obviously not Totebaggers because they are obsessed with the SAT. They are type A. One of my friends actually receive advice from her daughter’s private SAT tutor about sleep patterns for the entire week before the SAT.
    I just have a sixth grader, but I feel like they have been analyzing whether to sit for the ACT or the last version of the old SAT for at least a year. They want to talk about it all of the time, and they all seem to have reached the same conclusion to have their kids take the SAT tomorrow. They are trying to completely avoid having their kids take the new SAT.

    I am very happy to learn that the trail of wrappers that I find in my house, and my car is not unusual. We’ve had the same discussion with DD…if you are going to “sneak snacks”, please throw out the evidence!

  99. For those with early elementary homework resistors – it does get better. Kid 1, would run around the room and would not even sit down. Then, it was breaking pencils, making holes in the paper, screaming. Homework would take ages. Now, I do check due dates of schoolwork online and remind kid of deadlines but almost all the time kid is aware or has already completed the work. It has been a long and exhausting road but there has been slow and steady improvement. Kid 2, is much easier, very little supervision required. I am thankful because two homework resistors would have caused me to come undone.

  100. I cannot fault the school on the homework front because I can clearly see the difference between my two kids. One could drag it out very painfully for more than an hour, while another is done cheerfully in 20 minutes.

  101. I got a text from my oldest today saying he did only 2 math homeworks all quarter but still got an A because of high test grades. I mean, does he think that’s going to reassure me about his no homework thing? And last year he skipped a bunch of homework and did poorly, so it’s not like he has no need of math practice.

    I envy those of you whose kids eventually became resigned to homework.

  102. I had some angst about parenting, because I had great parents, but I still had some issues caused by my upbringing, and I had this sort of “if they couldn’t produce kids without issues, what hope is there for anyone?” feeling. My therapist told me that progress is screwing up your kids in a different way than your parents screwed you up. I found that to be a helpful way to think about it–to me, it takes the pressure off because it recognizes that every approach has both positive and negative repercussions and, once you get beyond the basics, there is no one correct path that ensures parenting perfection.

  103. HM,

    Any fool can get an A if they do the work. It takes true genius to get an A on your whits alone.

  104. I was thinking something similar to Fred’s kitchen island scene to start off a conversation. (Depending, I suppose, on any prior conversations!)

    I had someone tell me once that “good enough” parenting is responding appropriately to your kids about 30% of the time. I found that very reassuring.

  105. HM — I know a very smart (book smart) young person who constantly tried to find the “easy” way of doing things — skip homework, bare minimum on tasks, succinct writing, etc. He hurt himself along the way, and I think he benefited from some helicopter parenting. But with maturity and additional life experience, he has learned a bit more about the pitfalls of excessive efficiency. He still gets into trouble by trying to find the easy way out, but I think overall his approach works for him, and may even enable him to achieve more. (The other day we discussed how it’s often easier to ask for forgiveness than permission.) The opposite type may be the extreme plodder, and of course that type of approach has its own downsides.

    Good luck to all SAT takers today! Don’t forget your ID.

  106. We are in the “historic flooding” zone, it has been rain and more rain. We had a hot dry summer so the rain was welcome but now it is too much of a good thing.

  107. We’ve had rain for days, but luckily it is not the same amount of rain that you are getting in the southeast. The flooding near Charlotte looks terrible.

    The rain is not keeping away the crowds from a new Chick fil A. There is finally a real location in NYC. It opens today, but people lined up all day yesterday/overnight in the rain. no protests; very different vs the Chicago opening. I bet it is going to be crowded all of the time because they have so many fans.

  108. Many NC, SC, and VA SAT tests originally scheduled for today have been cancelled and rescheduled for later this month.

    “I don’t think my parents were entirely aware of when I was taking the SAT.”

    But I don’t think your parenting style is that hands off, or is it?

  109. “Many NC, SC, and VA SAT tests originally scheduled for today have been cancelled and rescheduled for later this month.”

    That is what happened here. They are rescheduled for next Saturday. Also rescheduled was the homecoming dance for tonight. Lots of disappointed kids.

    I was behind a woman at the store the other day who was stocking up on storm essentials….toilet paper, bottled water, beer,and spam.

  110. Chick Fil A does a thing where the first 250 people or however many who eat at a new restaurant get free sandwhiches for a year (one per week). That’s why people camp out. They opened one by us a couple of years ago and people camped out in snow and sub-freezing temps for it. I don’t think their food is anything special, certainly not worth camping out for days for.

  111. Tangent: I found Venus Fly Traps, which are hard to find by me, in the floral section of our grocery store this week. I hear that Lowe’s carries them seasonally. (We don’t have a Lowe’s.) FYI, for those with similar age kids who would enjoy watching a plant catch and digest bugs. I don’t know whether these are seasonal everywhere.

  112. I’m with Finn. I want to find out what happened next, Fred.

    On topic, the leader of my moms group gave us a printout: “Amy Chua: Where’s the sweet spot between permissive and strict? – Aha! Parenting. I haven’t read it yet but I don’t think they French style of parenting is advocated. Very sad.

    Still on my mission to try them all… My weird version of parenting Pokemon

  113. “But I don’t think your parenting style is that hands off, or is it?”

    Remains to be seen. Ideally, it will be. My goal would be for them to have that level of independence and ownership.

    “certainly not worth camping out for days for.”

    They have nothing else to do. We’re becoming a nation of MMM’s.

    http://www.marketwatch.com/story/share-of-americans-in-labor-force-shrinks-to-38-year-low-2015-10-02

    In other words, barely six in 10 of all working-age Americans have a job or are looking for one.

  114. Today was “mandatory” Saturday school to do PSAT/SAT practice tests, as is next Saturday. I had to work today, albeit from home, and the other driving members of the household had things they were doing. I opted not to rearrange anyone’s schedule for PSAT practice. He’s not going to hit NMSF, and his scores last year were sufficient that he won’t have to take the placement test at the junior college if he wants to take courses. (But he won’t have the 4.2 or 3 that the neighbor kid had who can’t place into non-remedial courses. So I guess that bumps me out of the “A” category. But I will make him breakfast on test days. I will write a note explaining our family conflicts, and hope that is enough to keep him out of detention.

  115. Wow, MBT. Is that a public school?

    I am still ready to have the big homework fight with the school for my young elementary child. I really don’t believe that children should be doing homework at that age. However, I was out of town and she got her first homework packet, to completed and turned in the following week. It was done that night and turned in the next day. We’ll see how long that lasts…..

  116. “I hope to be each and every one of these parents over the next 21 years. Kids won’t know what hit them. They’ll leave the house going “WTF just happened?” and pass the scotch.”

    Rhode – best line of the week!

    +1000

  117. Here’s my school vent for the week. On Monday after school, the gym teacher was escorted out by security guards. Naturally this was the talk of school on Tuesday and rumors started. No word from the principal. Wednesday, more rumors, still no word from the principal. I emailed her that afternoon and she replied back with an email that said absolutely nothing, and “We didn’t feel like we wanted to draw concern by sending home a letter just about this matter. We figured that it would be best to communicate this through the Thursday newsletter.”

    They sent the newsletter out Thursday and it said more of nothing, just that he is no longer teaching at the school and they wish him the best in his future endeavors. Apparently we weren’t the only ones annoyed with the lack of information, because she sent out another email which said “Please know that at no time was your child unsafe or at risk while in our building this year.” Then she added “Should you have additional questions, please reach out to me and I will do my best to answer each question in a timely manner.” which I found funny because she totally blew me off when I asked her about it.

    I understand they are limited in what they can say because of privacy rules. But this is the principal that sends emails for every little thing, so not notifying parents when a teacher was fired amid rumors of drug-dealing and abusing students is unjustifiable. Again, I know there are privacy issues that prevent providing the details, but the notification should have been made Monday evening or Tuesday morning at the latest.

    We’re really not liking this principal a whlole lot. It’s a shame because we love the teachers and the school has been great for the kids, but we’re not happy with a lot of the changes she made this year.

  118. We had a break from the normal busy fall weekend schedule due to the rain. However, being the beginning of the month one kid had projects that came home Friday, that are due at the end of the month. One of the projects was perfect for a rainy day, so that got done. The other kid also worked on finishing up some homework. Sunshine is scheduled to return this week. No sunsine for days is unusual for us.

  119. “My goal would be for them to have that level of independence and ownership.”

    Yes, that would be ideal. I think some totebaggers have commented how they achieved that, more or less. I had it when I was a teen, but I would not endorse my upbringing experience.

    Louise, I’m glad you were able to ride out this rain in a productive fashion. Confession: yesterday I kept thinking “Charlotte” when I read “Charleston” in news reports.

    DD, that sounds frustrating and a bit scary. Transparency is so important when it comes to schools, but I agree privacy issues probably interfered. That being said, the decision to postpone communication was a mistake. Is this a charter school?

  120. (names completely fictional…the rest is as accurate as I can remember)

    Setting: Saturday morning, teenage standard time. Parents at the kitchen table; kitchen has long been cleaned up from breakfast. DS comes downstairs, Mom having found the subject item the day before. Mom talks, unless otherwise noted. Everyone stays calm.

    “Whose are they?”

    “Where’s (younger brother)?”

    “Downstairs. Whose are they?”

    “Does it matter?”

    “Well, yes.”

    “Why?”

    Dad: “You’re weaseling…whose are they?”

    “Mary’s. Does that help?” (Mary and DS have been very good friends since early elementary school, the kind of friends who go with each other to semi-formals when there’s no real “date”. At least up to then, probably never, DS and she were never an item. Now they go to different colleges far apart from each other and they remain close friends. DW and I are very close friends with her parents, same cards group, book club (DW), monthly sports bar group (me).)

    “And how’d they end up in your hamper…”

    “Well, (the-alert-the-parents-word as the kid buys time) remember last week when I gave her a ride back from the Smith’s place at the lake after Eve’s birthday party?” They must have fallen out of Mary’s bag and she didn’t see them when she got out. Well, I didn’t find them that night but Monday when I was putting stuff in the car before school I saw them. So I threw some other clothes that were in the car over them because I didn’t want to talk about it with (younger brother) or have him tell you about them if he saw them, which would be even worse for me because now he’s involved, too, and who knows what he’d say to his friends. And when I took all the clothes out of the car and put them in the hamper they were in with all my clothes.”

    “That’s it?”

    “Yeah. We’re not that kind of friends. She’s not my type. And, you know, if we wanted to do it, we could. Here, their house, somebody else’s house whose parents aren’t home during then, the car. Kids do it all the time. But, really, we’re just friends.”

    (doing a wonderful job of staying on topic and not veering off onto the potential tangents of who? which kids? have you ever done that? why do you leave clothes in the car?)

    “I want to believe you.”

    “I’m telling the truth. Ask Mary, she knows they’re here. I texted her about them when I found them. I’ll show you. I didn’t mean to put them in the hamper (opens ever-present phone to the text string where he says to her, “hey I just found a pair of pink underwear in my car. are they yours?” “that’s where they are; they weren’t in my bag when I got home from the lake. can I get them back?” “ok”) but I forgot about them when I brought the other clothes in the house. Really.”

    “So when are you going to get them back to her?”

    “I don’t know when I’ll see her next, and I don’t want to keep them with me, you know. Can we keep them here until the next time she comes over?”

    Yeah, ok. And what you said seems possible, so on the everyone-gets-one theory, and that we want to believe you, we’re done.

    (Note: getting them back to her seems to take forever. Even though DW had him put them in a large-enough envelope with her name on it and leave it downstairs to give to her the next time she came over, they hung around for longer than expected. But finally they were out of the house, somehow.)

    Pat on the back for us. All along, we figured it was something innocent, since he’s the “hider” of our kids who takes quite seriously the part of Miranda “…everything you say can and will be used against you…” If he’s talking, he’s probably telling the truth (or, at least the truth was more likely than with his brothers). And if he didn’t want us to find something, wouldn’t. So we chose to have some fun with it. We were and are ok this is what really happened, and everyone remains good friends.

    p.s. sorry it wasn’t juicier!

  121. All of my kids are in town for the weekend. I double checked with them. None of them feel the way Mooshi does (and they are not just being kind to me, we are all pretty straight shooters) about what would today be free range parenting and below legal supervision limits. I am talking about 0 to 16 – not late high school issues such as curfew/personal conduct choices. But they are comparing themselves to same SES contemporaries (and they are all late Gen X, just a bit too old to have had mobile phones in college). They found at the time that they had major advantages over their cohort in life skills and resilience. Each one has a particular beef with one area of his/her life that we did not recognize might have benefitted from more intervention, but that ain’t too bad and no longer in their 30s/early 40s are these things rehashed.

    But I think even laissez faire parents pick and choose their battles. I was all over their school experiences, mostly in the choice of school and program, and didn’t hesitate to change the school to find the least bad fit, but they were responsible for completing and turning in their daily homework from the earliest age and taking advantage of what was offered. I certainly marked the date of SAT on the calendar (I did have to pay for the test, after all, so I was involved), got them up with a good breakfast, a supply of number 2 pencils, and drove them to the test site (they didn’t have licenses at that age). It was a practical matter, not a test of self reliance.

  122. @DD — not in danger *on school grounds*??? Boy, that sends my lawyer weasel-alert through the roof. That is absolutely crazy-making and would likely send me storming into her office the next day. Holy crap.

    “It was a practical matter, not a test of self-reliance.”

    That’s sort of the Totebag difference, isn’t it? My mom was the original iteration of the free-range parent – not because she spent hours evaluating parenting strategies to select just the best one, but because she had to work and there was no real daycare and what are you going to do? Now we have the privilege of choosing between a gazillion different philosophies and then have to create these intentional, almost staged opportunities for our kids to implement whatever that choice is.

  123. We’ve had almost a foot of rain and it is still comin down. They say it’s worse than hurricane Hugo because the flooding is statewide. Why, oh why, do people drive into flooded streets?

  124. Forgot to add: it’s interesting because that difference makes the actual choice of philosophy less critical (within reasonable constraints), because our kids are much more socioeconomically privileged and so likely to do just fine regardless of which fine distinction we decide is critical. And yet it makes it *feel* more critical — because now we can choose, which in turn makes us responsible if we choose “wrong.” And “wrong,” of course, will be defined with perfect 20/20 hindsight, and in the context of whatever new science and parenting philosophies have been developed in the intervening 20-30 years.

  125. I liked being raised free-range, though it wasn’t as free-range as all that.

    When I was in college, I came home one weekend and dumped a lot of crap from my backpack out onto the card table by the back door, and didn’t notice that my diaphragm was in that mess. The next day I found it placed prominently on my otherwise-clear dresser. Nothing was ever said.

  126. Thinking of all the “kids” in my family or friends, the worst episode occurred when my neighbor’s daughter who was in her late teens eloped with their undesirable 20 something tenant (whose family was feuding with hers). Shortly after her younger sister eloped with another guy from the tenant family. However, the second girl was underage so the police brought her back home to her parents. Eventually the elder one came back home. Both girls had been ill treated. However, time passed they completed their education and immigrated. Their story was a major scandal at the time and for a while my parents who usually weren’t worried about my whereabouts kept a closer eye on me

  127. DD, that sounds frustrating and a bit scary. Transparency is so important when it comes to schools, but I agree privacy issues probably interfered. That being said, the decision to postpone communication was a mistake. Is this a charter school?

    Yes, it is. Another big non-communication issue is that they changed board presidents several months ago and there still has been no official communication about it. (Since it’s a charter, the school has its own board.) The only reason we know is my wife is good friends with the previous president’s ex-wife.

  128. apparently there is a ‘credible threat’ against a Philadelphia area college at 2pm Monday. Other schools are sending alerts too.

    (from Philly.com) Temple University, the University of Pennsylvania, Drexel University and La Salle University all sent safety alerts today notifying students that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms and the FBI were aware of an unspecific threat directed at “a university near Philadelphia,” that could happen at 2 p.m. Eastern Time tomorrow.

  129. Fred I was just reading that – I have a couple of cousins who work at universities there. I know your son is down there – thinking good thoughts for all affected. I’m sure it’s hard to focus on work with that in the back of your mind.

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