Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Parent or Friend? (a Guest post from Ben Moffat)

I’m so pleased to be including a post from our next blogger, Ben Moffat, author of The Angry Scot. Ben moved to Järpås, Sweden from Fife, Scotland after he met his partner Marie. Together they have three children, Mikaela, 14, Alexander, 6, and Maximus, 6. He started blogging in July 2011 “because my partner Marie thought i would be pretty good at it, because im the type of person who normally tells it how it is or at least how he see’s it. But now I’m just blogging because it’s fun and i have met loads of awesome people through doing it and can’t wait to meet more.” To his credit, he seems to have built a large following in a small amount of time as every dad blogger I’ve met seems to know him. Give a warm welcome to The Angry Scot!


Parenting is quite possibly one of the hardest jobs any mother and father have to endure in their lifetime, it is a job that never ends, you are a parent 24/7, 365 days a year. However since moving across to Sweden (and by all means this is not a post about how bad parents Swedish are because for the most part they are fantastic) but as I have noticed a growing trend over the last 5 years since moving here.

"Now what is this trend?" I hear you ask. Well what I am talking about is the amount of parents I have seen neglect their parental duties and favour something that for the most part is good but has extremely bad consequences and this is friendship. Before anyone decides to go on a rampage, I am not saying you shouldn't be a friend to your child (by god no), that is something you definitely should be but when you are favouring being a friend to your children over being a parent that is where you see the likes of what I have seen over the past few years.

My twin boys used to attend the local daycare centre here in Järpås where we live. They didn't really need to be there since I am a stay at home dad, but it was something that both myself and my fiancée thought would be a great experience for them. I remember the first week I began to take the boys up to daycare, there was always this young boy up there already who was a little bit older than my two boys and always walked around like he owned the place, jumping on the furniture, bossing people around and such likes. I thought nothing of it because you know that some children are just like that. But a few weeks later I finally noticed the real reason behind his behaviour and attitude.

The reason behind it? His mother. Now I am not saying she is a bad mother, she is probably a good mother and does the very best she can, but the way she spoke to him and the way she treated him really annoyed me so much that I really wanted to say something. I decided not to say anything, because well my thoughts and opinions are exactly that mine, and it is certainly not my place to go around criticizing people's methods of parenting.

But this one day I went up to pick up my boys and was sitting on one of the sofa type benches they had just as you walked in the door, waiting for my kids to finish eating their afternoon snack and the same little boy who I had been seeing everyday was sitting on the one in front of me (or should I say jumping around and jumping on top of it). Not only was he doing that but his mother was standing right there in the doorway to the cloakroom.

As she turned around she must have got a glimpse of the look on my face (It was the look of "hello can you please tell your child that he shouldn't be doing that") but instead she just laughed and shrugged it off with the look off ("well what you going to do eh? Boys will be boys"). Eventually she had finished getting her other child dressed and ready to go and told her other boy who was performing acrobatics on the daycare furniture that it was time to go, but instead of the boy getting down and going with his mother he just completely ignored her request and continued with his antics.

But instead of being the firm parent, directing her child with what she wanted done she opted to go for the sad puppy dog eyes and come out with "Oh come on now son, let's get moving. Your dad will be home soon and i need to make dinner" in the most gentle voice you could possibly imagine. Of course like you could imagine the boy once more just completely ignored his mother and just continued doing what he was doing, but once more instead of taking the firm approach and telling the boy that it was time to go and to get a move on she opted for the bribe approach with "Please come now, when we get home we can have dinner and then some ice-cream and candy and cuddle up on the couch and watch some cartoons".

This to me is not on, he is the child and you are the parent at the end of the day and what you say goes, there is no point being all friendly towards your children if they are just going to completely ignore your requests and directions.

Safe to say the boy has grown up now and his behaviour and attitude has not changed one bit. He still does what he wants says what he wants and gets away with it, he has attempted a few times to try and speak to me like I was nothing but a piece of dirt on his shoe and I have just completely ignored him. I could have replied with something like "Listen, don't you speak to me like that" but seeing as I am not his parent I don't feel it is my place so I opted to just ignore his remarks and continue with what I was doing.

This story is a prime example of many things I have seen over the years that prove to me that I am teaching my children the correct way to be in life, some might say that I am strict parent and if that is their opinion then so be it, but I refuse to let my children get away with anything they are not meant to and I will definitely not let them talk to people without being respectful.
You might think that this has nothing to do with being a friend to your children but in my eyes it is, the mother instead of being a parent was being a friend to her child and in return she was ignored and disrespected not only that it was done in front of a complete stranger.

So if you take anything away from this post, then it should be to watch that fine line that we as parents have between being a parent, and being a friend to your child. Cherish the children you have but at the same time teach them the right way to act and to speak to people. Manners cost nothing in this world and I believe that it is the duty of every parent to teach their children that.


Dr. G said...

You are absolutely right. This is a great example of the difference between what kids think they want and what they need. A parent who parents raises a child who feels secure, and grounded in recognizable expectations. A child who is "raised" by someone who wants their child to like them all the time grows up trying to raise themselves. This rarely goes well.

Christine @ Why We Love Green said...

I read this over and over in my parenting magazines! Kids don't need more friends, they need parents. Sad for that little boy who will grow up and have lots of problems understanding consequences, directions, etc. Great post, thank you!

Sue's blog said...

Hey, totally with you on this one. I think that the new generation of parents have become a little more relaxed at parenting and as you say want to be more friends than a parent. We can be both.

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