Thursday, May 31, 2012

Right, left or middle?

My friend, RaeRae over at A Momma’s Desires and Pacifiers blogged today about being a liberal parent…sort of. It got me thinking about the kind of parent I am.

Side note:  I'm guessing this post will piss a lot of people off.  Oopsie.

What kind of parent would I be labeled if I gave a damn about labels?

I think it’s a lot like Raven…I’m both and I’m pretty happy about that. I don’t want to be extreme left or right in anything that I do. Sure – there are certain things I won’t budge on but mostly I wanna be somewhere in the middle.

I don’t hide the fact that I’m a conservative Republican and I’ve been known to start a political fight or two on my FB wall to defend my views….but I don’t want you to blindly believe what I believe. I won’t respect you if your views don’t have passion and feeling behind them.

I think most of all – beyond being labeled as a liberal or conservative parent – I want to be known as a patriotic, civil servant whose children are well-balanced.

I volunteer in my community and some day I want my kids to do the same. Instead of bitching about things – I want them to work to change things. I want them to stay informed and never ever miss a vote…even if it’s only a small election for our local school board members. I want them to know that voting is a privilege. Every time I vote my children go with me and they use the electic voter thingy for me.

I don’t make my kids go to church every single Sunday like I was forced to as a child. That’s not to say that they have no idea what religion is or that they are allowed to be devils at their whim. They know who God is and they receive sacraments but I’m just not into forcing them to believe what I believe. That backfired on my parents.

My kids will have jobs. They will drive cheap, beater cars with no mufflers and a tape cassette player that they have to pay for so when they have their first nice car they will appreciate it more. If they earn a dollar, they know they are expected to save 1/3, give to charity 1/3 and spend 1/3. If they want to take the 1/3 of spendable money and buy a nose ring or 16 packs of gum….have at it. I could care less.

I will not pay for their college tuition. My parents didn’t pay for mine. It made me work harder and faster to get out. I knew lots of kids whose parents paid their way and they never appreciated how much that cost or what it meant and they didn’t care how long it took them and most today don’t even use the degree. I think that’s an insult to their parents.

On the other hand, I don’t give a damn if they want to color their hair every color of the rainbow and want to be covered in tattoos. I believe in a person’s free will to do what they want with their body and face the consequences of those choices…just like I have. I don’t care if they aren’t straight-laced. Not at all.

My kids will be well-mannered and quiet when necessary. They will respect adults and especially anyone older than them. They will behave and listen. Period. There will be consequences if they don’t. They will have chores to do like emptying the dishwasher and garbages. They will know what it’s like to work and earn money. They will spend their summers outside every day. They will get dirty and they will eat junk food for supper sometimes.

I don’t care if my girls are lesbians. I don’t care if they are straight. I just care if they are happy. And that they give me grandbabies. Everything else about this topic is for someone else to judge. I’m no God. I’m just a Catholic conservative Republican who picks and chooses her battles.

Gay or straight, I expect my girls not to sleep with everything that moves. If you do – have at it. More power to you. I didn’t and nor did Rambo and I think sex is something very intimate. Our society today makes it seem as simple and easy and meaningless as putting ketchup on a burger. My girls will know it’s a big deal. At least while they are under my roof.

On the other hand – I have no hard fast rule like “you will not date until you are 18 or you will not marry until you are 30.” I was barely allowed to leave the house and looking back – my parents thought they were protecting me but it hindered me in a lot of ways. If my girls want to have a boyfriend when they are 12 (I did) – have at it. However, don’t ever expect that boy to be alone with you or go in your room or touch you while I’m around. That’s just how it’s gonna be.

If the neighbor parents 16 houses up let their little girl walk to our house by herself because we live in a small town that is safe – that’s great. My girls won’t be doing that.

If my kids end up being liberal Democrats – great. All I ask is that they vote. And stay informed. And know why they are liberal Democrats.

If my girls want to dress in all black or stripes from head to toe – they can. If they want to wear pajamas out grocery shopping – go for it. Unless dressing Goth or wearing PJs would be disrespectful and inappropriate – like at a funeral. If they want to walk out of the house with their hoohas or booblets hanging out for the world to see…well then they aren’t leaving the house.

If they want to ride motorcycles, I’ll show them how even if I’m scared to death for them. They’ll be required to wear helmets and know bike safety, but they can ride them.

They will probably own a gun and damn sure will know how to use it – to hunt or protect themselves. I believe they have that right.

If they want to take a trip alone after they are 18, I’ll probably let them go. They’ll know the risks and to be careful and they’ll damn sure know how to change a flat and follow a map and lock their doors. But they have to go – because I was never allowed to – even if it scares me to death to let them go.

If they are going to drink – they better do it responsibly. I did and so did their father. It can be done.

They will say thank you and please and they will not expect a handout or feel entitled to anything. Their parents believe in hand UPS – not hand OUTS.

They will learn that we expect them to help neighbors, family and friends – without expecting anything in return. They are expected to have their sibling’s back. No matter what. They will learn that being grateful feels good.

So yah – thinking about it – I’m strict and I’m laid back. I’m liberal and I’m conservative. I’m a hard-ass and I’m fun.

I’m not perfect. Parenting doesn’t come easy to me. I surprise myself often with the things I let and don’t let my girls do. Some things aren’t negotiable and others are.

It’s all a crapshoot. But I like to think I’m in the middle of the crapshoot.

How about you? If you’re a parent or if you were to be a parent – what would your “label” be? Right, left or somewhere in the middle?  Are there things you'd let your kids do that contradict your "label"?


jennxaz said...

good for you...I can so relate on your parenting mom was a crazy religous freak growing up and there were so many rules I rebelled...its so hard to make sure I don't do that to my kid but still make sure he turns out ok and is not a deadbeat!

angel shrout said...

See this is why we should have met a long time ago. MY mom sheltered me from so much, yet turned her head at me being sexually abused. Don't sleep with boys but I will act like I don't see the family member doing to you what I tell you not to do. It was hard. I have had a long fight to find my middle safe ground on all kinds of issues. I wish my boys would wait for that one, but I also know realistically if they decide not to I want them to be SAFE in their choices. Tons I could say but not enough space..

Chris said...

Wow, I think I could've written this post myself, with the exception of one line, which I would change to "I'm a left-leaning Democrat."

Everything else, including gun ownership, hand-ups, drinking, etc... yep, I could've written it!

Fab Kate said...

Yeah, I'm a little surprised, because I'm a left leaning Democrat as well, and while I'd be disappointed if my kids chose to own guns, I'm with you on the rest of it... although you said "if the kids want to... after their 18". I figure after they're 18, they're adults, and they don't need me to "let" them do anything. They have to make their own choices, and have their own consequences. One of those consequences MIGHT be not living in my home, but that's the eventual goal anyway.

I can't (and won't) pay for my kids to go to college, but I expect them to go. Moving to Santa Fe so Cay will be able to attend her college of choice is as much a sacrifice as I'm making, and then only because she's got something on the order of $37,000 in financial aid, including talent and academic scholarships, coming in.

becca said...

i am like you in the middle i am stubborn on some stuff easy on others i just want my child to grow up to be a happy well balance respectful adult the knows how to take care of himself and who is comfortable with ho he is

LDswims said...

I'm so totally in the middle. My mom was in the middle and I think it worked out well. She didn't fight me when I wanted purple then black then bleached blond hair. She didn't fight me when I shaved my head and then grew it out to the middle of my back. She let me be a chearleader and she let me be a swimmer and a soccer player and madrigal and a drummer and more. She supported my choices and let me be me.

She did have VERY strict rules about boys in the house (not allowed at all) and whether I could attend a party with friends (absolutely never). Some of her strictness came from her own personal experience. Her mom was too liberal in some regards so my mom was too conservative in those same regards. I learned later that it wasn't me she didn't trust, it was herself. She was afraid she didn't teach me to not have sex or get drunk. She did, but she never let it be put to the test.

I will trust my boys and whatever else we have in the future. Like you, I will be strict and relentless with some aspects and probably too easy with others.

You stand for all that I do, so it's, again, like you jumped in my head and wrote this from there.

Love ya!

Frickin' Fabulous at 40 said...

I'm the 6th of 7 kids, so even though my parents are kinda strict, I don't think they cared anymore by then! Life was different when I grew up. We were out all day in the summer and wandered the neighborhood freely. Now we get a notification of a sex offender in the area every other week. I'm just letting my kids have some freedom now. My daughter (14)hangs out at the library with her friends in the teen dept. and knows she can leave to go to the store (which is in the same lot as the library). Other than that she's stuck. My son has been going to his friend's house and they are allowed to wander the town. He will be 16. I didn't want them to be as afraid of the world as I am FOR them, you know what I mean? They are great kids, respectful, kind, happy and excellent students. I'm doing something right.

Janis said...

I realized that political labels meant nothing in 2008, when I saw a bunch of good little granola-eating "feminists" who were all "rape is bad!" and "take back the night!" suddenly openly wishing for Sarah Palin (a fairly moderate Republicans, when you look closely) to get gang-raped to a bloody, dismembered death.

That did it for me. That was when I decided that I'm allergic to political labels. I no longer give a half-crap what you call yourself. Show me what you DO, and I'll tell you what you ARE. Self-designated labels are often a conscious coverup for what someone truly is inside. You want to call yourself a left-leaning progressive or a right-leaning conservative, go right ahead. You can all yourself a ham sandwich. Actions matter far more than words.

My dad used to say that it was a parent's job to create a decent human being, and the rest was up to the kid. :-)

Joanna said...

Like everyone else, I could have pretty much written this post - except the Republican part...LOL

I think I parent very similar to my own parents did - and I think that's good. I turned out OK. The only change I will make is how they started enforcing rules when I was 16 that I never had before in order to "protect me". I ended up pregnant at 17 because of the harsh rules they enforced for no reason. I rebelled. I don't want to do that with my kids.

The rest of it, though, worked out. I am also totally OK with my kids wanting to work some before deciding to go to college. It's what I did- and it made me want my dream career so much more when I realized what my options were limited to without a college degree.

Kelly said...

Umm, I haven't spawned, so I have nothing of substance to add to this.

Raven said...

this was AWESOME! You said so much that I totally agree with. So basically, you need to have kids ASAP so more well-rounded contributing people can live in this world! seriously, loved it all!!

oh man, so I am reading some of the other comments, and I just want to go off, but I won't. AHEM "fab kate" who would be disappointed if her kids chose to own guns. Please. Anyway, on another subject, college, we won't pay for their college. We will make them think that they have to pay for it all the way, then WHEN they graduate, IF we can afford it, we will pay off their student loans. But they will never know that until the graduate, because if they have to pay for it, they will work for it harder.

However, if my kids don't want to go to college? Totally fine! But they better as hell be working and working towards something they love.

love this!

Lyla said...

As a feminist liberal Democrat.. .

I love you and I think if I were a parent, my parenting philosophy would match yours EXACTLY. Go you!

Life Love & High Heels said...

love this post (and raven's too!) and this will be my approach to parenting too. I don't care about labels, but if I have kids someday- just let them be polite, respectful, volunteering people.

I laughed a bit at the church thing. I grew up going to a church school and was forced to go to church every week. I don't really go now, but still consider myself religious to a degree and I'm now thankful my parents kinda forced it on me. I dont think I'll force it on my kids though.

XBIGJIMX said...

I think you nailed it on the head it is all about raising respectful people. Me and my wife are on polar ends of the right and left. But we raised our kids that they should be free thinking and be respectful and the value of a dollar

Laura Belle said...

Yup. Couldn't have said it better myself!