Tuesday, April 28, 2009

I Hate Parents

Notice that I didn't say I hated my parents. I'm actually quite fond of them. I'm also not saying that you should hate your parents. I'm just talking about parents as a concept and stereotype. In general, having children makes you a bad person.

And I'm not talking about the potential ecological problems caused by a growing population or mommy blogs, although both could be the potential cause of human end times. I'm talking about the fact that parents are so often assholes.

Here's a bit of a piece of advice to those of you who've managed to create new life: Your kid isn't special to anyone but you, your family, and your friends, and it's quite possible that the kid isn't that special to many of the people in that group. Stop acting like your progeny is the second coming of Jesus. I won't even get into the fact that being a parent is nothing special. Most of the people in the history of our species have managed to be parents and I bet that at least half of them even stuck around to make sure theirs made it to self-sufficiency. All that being a parent means that at least once, someone actually had sex with you. Even earthworms can get each other knocked up. Even meth heads can sometimes manage to get their offspring into adulthood. They may not be as good at you at parenting, but if they kept theirs alive, you can do it without annoying the rest of us.

I understand that desire to protect and comfort your child. Having a toddler with no fear of death or dismemberment and no lack of confidence in his ability to do anything can be quite the stressful job. I'm also not advocating that you be neglectful, cold, or abusive to your children. Children with actively involved and concerned parents tend to be more successful and better behaved in school and tend to have better futures than those whose parents spend less time or are less involved in their kids' lives. You should be at all those ball games, parent-teacher conferences, and hovering over the kid when they're supposed to be doing homework. Well, maybe not hovering, but you should be making sure they actually do it. You just also need to remember that your child is also a liar, self-centered, and very likely a bit of a bully as well.

This even applies to the good kids. I was a good kid and I was a liar (although I sucked at it), self-centered, and even went through a phase in middle school when I was a bit of a thief. I can't say that I was much of a bully except for that one time Hank and I drove a kid to attempt suicide. I wasn't proud of myself after I realized what I had done, but we really were just returning the favor to the boy in question. You can't expect a seventh-grader to understand that abandoning a former friend (even if he deserved being abandoned) and then hitting him in the back of the head with a music stand during band class would cause him to try to end his life. It seems like classic asshole to me now, but at the time we were just venting frustration.

This is exactly what I'm talking about, though. Your child may be gifted in some way, but in the end, they're just another human with all of the flaws, rights, and responsibilities of every other human and they should be expected to do what's right and deal with unfair crap without being a baby and you getting bent out of shape for it. They're not going to get everything they deserve and they probably don't deserve everything you think they do.

If you can't bring yourself to not think of your offspring as little angels who must be protected from the horrors of the real world, remember this: You're making them spoiled brats who are going to suck at life. In the real world, you have to be able to stand up for yourself, but you also have to know that sometimes you just have to kowtow to the guy above you in the hierarchy, and sometimes you just have to let the small things slide. Your getting into a foaming rage every time your child may have gotten cheated or mistreated or bailing them out every time they get into trouble really isn't helping to teach them this.

If you need some pithy slogan to sum up this lesson for you so you can make better use of my sage advice in the future, it's this: Life sucks and so does your kid. Make sure they understand that before they have to do make their own way.

This post inspired by the parents at a recent high school athletic event.


courtney said...

It won't surprise you to know that I agree with every word of this post. That's the #1 reason I couldn't teach any kids younger than college age -- I can deal with the kids themselves, but parents who think their kid can do no wrong give me blood pressure problems. No good can come of raising a kid to think he's the center of the universe.

I know the situation wasn't funny, but the line "I can't say that I was much of a bully except for that one time Hank and I drove a kid to attempt suicide" is really funny if taken out of context.

Greg said...

Well said. Keep up the excellent work!

Theresa B said...

If only I could figure out how to anonymously send this to a few people I know...

A Free Man said...

Ah, clearly you haven't met my kid.

Seriously, though, well said. I run across so many parents that have absolutely no idea (or don't care) that they're raising a little tyrant. I just want to beat the crap out of them - the parents.

Chris said...

Courtney does point out a funny phrase. It could be a good opening line for a novel, I think.

You raise some really good points here. My kid is only one of more than six billion people on this planet, and one of my many responsibilities as a parent is to make sure he grasps that concept.