Disclaimer: This is a longer than usual post. Thanks for reading.
As the new year was ushered in, it has brought forth an epiphany of sorts. So what is this epiphany? I have taken the words: Requirement and Expectation, and interpreted them in the realm of parenthood.
What is legally required of parents with minor aged children. Housing, Food, Clothing and Basic Care. I’ll break down how I perceive and provide these four items.
Housing: My husband and myself own our home. Each of our five children have their own room. Within their rooms are beds, with blankets and pillows. Dressers and closets. As well as, places to hold and display their personal belongings.
Food: Items for breakfast are available for the children to make for themselves. (I feel that this is a small way I can help them achieve the independence they will need when they reach 18 and either go to college/ military or are able to stably support themselves on their own.) The midday meal is generally taken while the children are at school. I have done my due diligence in explaining what they need to chose in the cafeteria to have a “square” meal. Weekends or during summer months, there are left overs or easy to prepare meals. I cook the evening meal. Of which, I do my best to be considerate of the children’s preferences. Most of the children at least try the meal. Others prefer to “go hungry”. We all wait until an hour from eating supper has passed to have a snack in the evening. This is usually when the child(ren) who “go hungry”, make their own small meal.
Clothing: The closets and dressers mentioned previously, are overflowing with the various varieties of clothing. All of which are to the taste/liking of each individual child. When someone out-grows or an article in particular needs to be replaced, it is.
Basic Care: The definition of this particular requirement, is very… pliable. I define it as, personal hygiene. In each bathroom there are shampoo, conditioner, body wash, toilet paper, tooth paste and brush, and towels for showering. Each individual has their own personal hygiene products; deodorant, hair products, razors, feminine products.
At this juncture, I would like to also mention, mental health. My husband and I do our best to help and reassure our children. For those who want it; we take them to therapists, so they can receive unbiased advice. We do our best to support each child’s needs. If it’s cheering them on in a sport, or simply holding them while they cry. At times, we drop the ball. We do our very best to retrieve it and keep going. Onward we move.
Expectations: This has two main facets. What society expects and the expectations of the individual child.
Society expects perfection. “Keeping up with the Jones’s” Parents are pigeon holed into comparing how they are raising their children with the next door neighbors. If Johnny has a phone, then My kid NEEDS a phone. If Susie has her own car, then My kid NEEDS a car. If Billy has ______, then My kid NEEDS _______. We as parents, compare our “B average” child with the valedictorian. We aspire to have the “best” kids, in comparison with other families. We validate ourselves, by pushing our kids. We sign our kids up for activities, one after another. Instead of, finding their “niche” and the things they actually like/love to do.
So how do we go about “rejecting” the expectations of society? We, as parents, have to start living more necessity driven lifestyles. Do you provide the legal requirements? Yes. Then everything else you choose to do for your child is not a necessity. If you get your kid a phone, make it because you need to be able to communicate with them. If they chose to have a job, then supply them with a vehicle. Then, you must also define what that car or phone is meant for. Do they have to hand over the phone/keys when they get home from work/school, or can they have free reign, to use what ever the item may be as they please.
The expectation of the individual child. This has a great variation, obviously. Within the range of five children, who reside or have resided in this home. This broad stroke ranges from: the martyr- who has no wants, to the self-indulged- with the attitude of “You owe me anything I desire”, to the grateful- to receive anything beyond the legal parameters of requirement.
My epiphany: It is time to have a “reboot” within my home. A new policy of striving to have solid, realistic expectations pertaining to the children and society’s pull. Possibly a “reboot”, would impress recognition of the work and effort it takes to provide all of the gadgets society says we need. Perhaps, Our Children will have a more complete idea, of how to be a better, more positive adult.