Critical Parenting Updates Available – Click Here!

I ran an update on my computer software today.  It made me wish we could run updates on ourselves as easily.  I don’t just mean get a makeover, buy new clothes, try a new recipe, change careers….been there, tried that, got the merit badge.

I’m talking about a Parenting Update just one click away.  Free with original sign-up as a parent.  Free updates for life!

I say this because the parenting I did even just six months ago no longer applies.  The rules keep changing.  No, I guess the kids keep changing and the rules have to adapt.  But there’s no book, no podcast, no flowchart to make these decisions any easier or more obvious.  Each kid and each situation is different.  One size doesn’t fit all.  Even in the same family.

No sooner have we decided that it’s OK for the kid to play out front ALONE (without parents hovering nearby or peeking through the blinds) than the kid wants to ride her bike over to visit a friend.  A few months of bike rides and they are asking to go to THE PARK.  Is that OK?  Don’t the Scary People sometimes go to parks?  We think, think some more, set ground rules, and let her go.  After visiting said park with friends for a period of time, they up the ante and ask to go to the convenience store on bikes.

A request to hitchhike cross country to attend Mardi Gras can’t be far behind.

When the kids were little, most decisions seemed easy and obvious.

       “Can I eat the Hershey bar for breakfast?”  No (but I can).
       “Can we get a horse?”  No.  Horses eat and poop more than I am willing to deal with.
       “Can I take these empty beer bottles for show and tell?”  No, we need to recycle them or the beer fairy won’t bring more.  And it’s not appropriate for kindergarten.

Easy stuff.

So by the time they have moved through elementary school, we parents start to feel smug.  Experienced.  We haven’t lost them yet and they haven’t gone to join the circus, so we MUST be doing something right!  Middle school?  Bring it on!

And they do.

I really DO feel like a good-enough parent most of the time.  I listen and try not to immediately tell them what they are doing wrong and why.  I try to be loving and caring, even when doling out punishments or delivering lectures.  We are flexible but firm. 

But lately I have realized that this just won’t end any time soon.  The parenting phase of our lives seems to begin with pregnancy and end when we lie down in a wooden box in the dirt.  I used to think that just getting them out of high school would require most of the parenting.  Then friends warned me about the college years, when they are using your money to find themselves and want to change majors as often as they upgrade their cell phones.  OK, get them through college and they are on their own!  Adults!  No, friends with young adult “kids” have told me this isn’t true either.

Plenty of my own friends are still being parented quite regularly by their parents.

So if I could click my mouse and have all of these critical updates delivered to my brain now, it would save me a lot of thinking in the future.  And I certainly need to limit extra things to think about, since I can’t seem to find my keys or remember my grocery list.