The following is an opinion piece and does not necessarily reflect the views of KSL Newsradio or its ownership.
Here’s the thing: parenting is a lie.
A new study finds that parents and their children argue six times a day. That’s 42 times a week or 182 times a month. Each argument averages about 8 minutes. That translates into 48 minutes of arguing a day; it’s more than 5 1/2 hours a week, or almost a day of feuding a month and over 48 days of bickering a year.
Wow, 48 days: more than a month and a half of squabbling. And for what?
That’s why I say parenting is a lie. We were all told that if we parent in a certain way, our kids will turn out a certain way. But it’s a lie. Your child is going to turn out the way your child is going to turn out.
The parenting trap
Now, I’m not saying give up on trying and just surrender. But most of the arguments we have as parents with our children are just not worth it. Because, in the end, your child is going to decide for themselves who they will one day become.
What I have learned is the most you can do is give a nudge here and there. And your ability to nudge them is not based on how loud you can yell or how many punishments you can dole out. It’s based on your relationship with them.
I went out last night to dinner with my kids. It was my daughter’s 22nd birthday. We have a ball together. And not one time did I think: I wonder if their rooms are clean. I wonder if their cars are clean. I wonder if their grades are good. It didn’t come up, and it won’t come up, because those things don’t matter anymore.
And I look at those battles I once fought with my kids, and I think I wouldn’t fight those battles again.
Now, this is just me. It’s just JayMac. Please don’t think that I’m saying that you’re a bad parent. When you’re arguing with your kids all the time, the only thing you have left is a negative relationship. And the only thing that counts is the relationship.
Ask yourself: What battles with my kids are worth losing our relationship together?
All these things that we fight over every day, our children will pick up when their brains fill in. When their brains have been fully developed, that’s when they will get it. We fought our daughter all the time about cleaning up. The other day she was bragging about how clean her apartment was — as if she invented the idea of a clean apartment.
One size fits all doesn’t fit
I have four kids, and not one of them has gone the direction we thought they were going to go. It’s so amazing to watch when you back away from the idea that you failed when they didn’t follow the path that you had predetermined.
We had a child who was struggling in high school. We tried every method in the world: rewards, punishment, leverage, payments; nothing worked. When we sought an outside counselor, we found out our child had a heightened sensitivity to loud noises and bright lights, which is what high school really is. When we learned that, we suddenly weren’t arguing with our child. We now understood the problem. We were now fighting alongside our child, instead of fighting each other. When we discovered that we didn’t have to fight this fight alone, we found success.
The parenting trap is if you think that you can’t handle your child on your own, then you are a failed parent. There are outside resources. It’s not a sign of weakness. There were also moments when we realized that we were destroying our entire relationship with our child.
Is it really worth it in the long run? No.
All I really want as a parent now, once that I realized I can’t steer their lives in the way I was lied to and thought that I could, is to be part of their lives. If they need some counseling, they can come to me. And every one of them does, and I cherish it.
I don’t care about any of those things that I once thought were so important, that we fought about all day long, a long time ago. It’s just not worth it.
Jay Mcfarland hosts the JayMac News Show, weekdays from 12:30 to 3 p.m. on KSL Newsradio, as well as the fictional podcast, Hosts of Eden. KSL Newsradio is part of Bonneville Media and based in Salt Lake City, Utah.
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