I sometimes think when an obstetric nurse hands the rapturous parents their beautiful newborn child, another nurse should be sticking a twenty-year prescription for Xanax in mom’s purse or dad’s pocket. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not advocating medicinal, mood altering therapy for the frantic parental reasoning and heartbreaks guaranteed to follow, but maybe I am. Today’s parents tend to become unhinged at things that have nothing to do with raising a child to become a successful adult. Here are five issues parents worry about that don’t matter:
Sports. Medical and talk therapy are highly recommended. Mom might be dying inside if her daughter doesn’t make the team, commits an error that causes a loss, or is flagrantly fouled. Dad might paint his stomach and chest in the pink and blue of the team’s colors. However, six year old Heather is more concerned about which snacks will be served at the end of the game. Since club and high school sports are even more demanding, some parents push their kids to exercise harder and send them to sports camp hoping and praying they can be starters. In reality, very few kids will be good enough to land a scholarship.
Instead of screaming at the referees, arguing with the other team’s parents, and chewing your child out for a poor performance, remember that sports can be a great way to be healthy, develop character, and learn to handle competition. The game itself has no influence on whether your child becomes a product manager for Apple at the age of twenty-five. Sports are good for kids, but terrible for parents’ health.
Popularity. Many parents are concerned with whether their kids are part of the in-crowd? It doesn’t mean squat. A lot of the popular guys in my high school are dead from drugs. Some of the most popular girls have had too many husbands, boyfriends, and babies to count. Popular or not, everybody has to deal with life. The point of high school is to learn and make your grades, so you can have vice presidents sucking up to you one day.
Labels. Some moms are so nuts about brand names they cut off labels like Seven and Juicy and sew them on their daughter’s clothes. Some even paint the soles of their daughters’ shoes red indicative of the iconic red-soled shoes from designer Christian Louboutin. There are teenage boys who would rather go naked than wear jeans from the Gap. If we and our kids are more worried about the labels we wear and what kind of cars we drive than who we are as people, in twenty years or so our kids will have one label they can’t shake: Loser.
Suffering. The thought of our children suffering brings both moms and dads to their knees in their own suffering. Our children’s suffering is why we badger teachers for higher grades. It’s why we do their homework, hire lawyers for that little shoplifting incident, and why we agree a summer job is a bummer so we’ll fund the grand or two they need to stay happy. Of course, when adulthood and its attendant suffering arrives, these kids are totally unprepared to deal with job interviews, upset spouses, paying bills, and working all night to meet a deadline. Because these kids weren’t allowed to suffer in childhood, they are miserable in adulthood.
Sororities. Don’t be one of those moms who breaks down in tears because your daughter isn’t offered a bid by the Tri Delta sorority. Are you telling your daughter if she’s not a Tri Delta, she’s nothing? Thank goodness our kids quit listening to parents when they’re about sixteen. Parents seem to get crazier as kids get older. No woman has become a successful hedge fund manager, a better mom, or a kinder wife because she attended four years of Tri Delta parties.
Childhood is too important to be wasted on the stupid stuff. It’s a fun time. It’s a magical time. It’s also the time we train our kids for the adult world, because if we wait until they are twenty-two to teach them responsibility, it’s too late. If we can teach our kids to be honorable, hard-working, kind, compassionate, grateful, inquisitive adults who know and trust God by the time they are eighteen, we’ve done our job. And our panties are a lot more comfortable when they aren’t tied in a knot.
What else would you add to this list?