I always saw them, those street kids. While waiting at the bus stop downtown, they would run back and forth, clothes hanging off their bodies, tattoos embellished on their forearms, foul language that slapped cold across your cheek, cigarettes dangled from mouths of 15-year-olds balancing babies on their hips.
I would board the bus and smugly say, “Tsk, Tsk,” as I pulled on the edge of my beautiful white gloves, fingers wiggling into the holes.”Those poor children have no decent upbringing. Thank God we don’t have children like that. Thank God we brought ours up correctly.” I really thought our parenting skills were unquestionably top-notch.
Somehow, we managed to squeak by with our first child. The second one, however, became the catalyst for change. The freedoms allowed, the no-consequences forum, the child-centered belief system, came tumbling down on us like a wall of bricks. I won’t bore you with the details of the tears shed, the nights of pacing the floors, wringing our hands, peering out into the darkness, always fearful of that late-night phone call or knock on the door.
After a year, I awoke one morning and noticed my brilliant white gloves dangling from my fingertips, edges frayed and seams torn. Through new eyes, I understood the misery the parents of those street kids endured and, for the first time, the errors we made as parents became crystal clear. Boxing gloves miraculously replaced the white ones and I came out swinging.
There has been much in the news lately about parenting, including parents facing legal problems for leaving children unattended in cars and outside restaurants. And much has been written recently about the pros and cons of John Rosemond’s child-rearing philosophy.
After 25 years, what I have learned about parenting is basic common sense. Trust your own judgments and instincts. Refrain from relying solely on what has been written. Parenting is a humbling experience; one in which we must learn to expect more from our children, allow consequences to teach lessons and accept what life brings around for our children.
My sincerest hope is that you will never have to take off those pristine white gloves and enter the ring of realism in parenting. But if you find yourself heading toward the ropes, call me. I’ve got a pair of boxing gloves I can loan you.
MEMO: Your Turn is a feature of the Wednesday and Saturday Opinion pages. To submit a Your Turn column for consideration, contact Rebecca Nappi at 459-5496 or Doug Floyd at 459-5466 or write Your Turn, The Spokesman-Review, P.O. Box 2160, Spokane, WA 99210-1615.
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