As a parent, it is my job to do what’s in the best interest of my children, from making sure they are properly fed and cared for to advocating for them in situations where they feel powerless. But you know what it isn’t my job to do for them?
Everything they want just because they want it.
I want my kids to grow up to be healthy, respectable, and self-sufficient citizens with whom other people can tolerate existing on this planet. My parenting choices will influence whether or not that happens. That’s why there are some things I will not do for my kids, including these:
1. Make more than one meal for dinner.
You know what we have for dinner in our house? Whatever Mommy or Daddy makes. Unless my kids have a condition that prevents them from eating certain things or have given something an honest try and legitimately don’t like it, I’m not making a separate meal for them because the broccoli is too green or the rice is too “ricey.”
2. Give in to whining.
We need to realize that we get things by being nice, responsible and agreeable, not by being little terrorists. We also need to realize that we don’t get our way simply because we want it. I won’t deprive my kids of life’s pleasures, but I certainly won’t reward them for being jerks, either.
3. Do their homework for them.
You know who already finished school? This gal. This is why, while I will help my children with their homework, I won’t do it for them. Failure is not a four-letter word. In fact, without failure, success doesn’t mean as much. It’s important for kids to both learn from their mistakes and take pleasure in their own hard-earned achievements.
4. Replace broken toys.
If a treasured item gets thrashed in a freak accident? Sure, I’ll splurge on a replacement. But if toys wind up in pieces due to carelessness and abuse, forget about it. Toys cost moola, and last time I checked, those aren’t money trees growing in the backyard.
5. Buy them every cool new smart gadget because that’s what all their friends have.
My mother said it to me, and I’m going to say it to my own kids: I’m not your friend’s mother. I guess you’d better ask her to buy those totally unnecessary and ridiculously overpriced things for you because you’re not getting everything Apple sells from me.
6. Let them waste away in front of screens all day.
I am pretty liberal when it comes to TV and tablets, but I’ll be damned if I let them turn into gelatinous slaves to Netflix and the interwebs. There’s a time to sit and play and a time to get up off your ass and move. I want my kids to be good at knowing the difference.
7. Find every single thing they ‘lose.’
You’ve got eyes, kids. I suggest you use them for seeing things. All that stuff you claim to have lost? It’s right in front of your face. As my grandma would say, if it were a snake, it would have bitten you by now.
8. Pick up their rooms/clean up their messes.
My name is Mom, not maid, and while I will definitely help out as needed, what I will not do is devote my life to following behind my kids with a trash bag. Their future mates can thank me later.
9. Drive them to school.
There’s this cool thing that drives right by our neighborhood called the school bus, and as far as I know, nobody’s ever died from the inconvenience of having to ride it. It may not be the coolest thing in the world, but then again, neither is having your mother walk you to class in her adult footie pajamas, which is what an escort service to school will cost you.
10. Buy them designer clothes.
I don’t even have designer clothes. Plus, there are these dreaded things called bills that everyone expects me to pay. Tell you what, kids: You save up a bit of your cash, and I’ll go halfsies with you. Fair?
11. Fight their battles for them.
Having a conflict with a teacher or classmate? Try self-advocacy. I’ll be there to back you up when you need it, but you’ve got to learn to problem solve on your own as well, kids.
12. Drop off whatever they forgot to bring to school for the eight-millionth time.
I’m happy to help out on the rare occasion that something slips their minds or they accidentally leave it on the kitchen counter as they’re rushing to catch that bus (see what I did there?), but if this forgetfulness becomes a habit, they can forget about Mom being there to perpetually bail them out. It’s called responsibility, and they’ve got to have it.
13. Accompany them on job interviews.
Yes, this is a thing parents are now doing with their high-school and college-aged children, and I’ve just got one thing to say about that: Hell to the no. Adulthood, welcome to it.
14. Resign myself to being treated like an ATM.
I’ll pitch in for a movie or a night out with friends once in a while, but I am not about to become Bank of Mom. If you want cash, kids, I suggest you get a part-time job or take on some extra chores at home. Learning the value of money and what it takes to earn it is a critical life skill.
15. Buy them a brand new car for their 16th birthdays.
I haven’t had my own brand new car in nearly a decade, so there’s no way in hell I’m springing for one for my kids just because they’ve graduated from learner’s permit to driver’s license. Help them out with a set of used wheels? Sure. But only as long as they’re willing to contribute something as well.
16. Let them go on spring break alone their senior year.
I know a lot of parents who do allow this, and to each their own, but as a former senior in high school with friends whose parents said go for it, I’ve got a stack of stories that nearly make me want to lock my kids in the house until they’re 35. So, there will be no solo spring breaks for the underage in this family.
17. Let them sleep over at friends’ houses on school nights.
I used to get so mad at my parents for not allowing me to do this, but now that I’m seeing things from the other side, I will be enforcing this same policy with my own children. Weeknights are for resting and recharging for school and work—two things that are so important to health and success.
18. Allow girlfriends/boyfriends to spend the night.
I wasn’t born yesterday, and I don’t need any grandchildren in nine months, either.
19. Allow parties with drinking at my house.
My job as a parent is to teach them to be responsible and healthy, not how to kick ass at flip cup (which I totally do, by the way. Kick ass, that is). Come talk to me again in a decade, kids. Until then, the only Captain I want to see in my house is Underpants.
20. Allow them to stay out all night.
Because not every parent abides by the rule above.
Not doing these things for my kids isn’t about being a downer or ruining their lives (though they definitely see it differently). Rather, it’s about helping them grow into self-sufficient adults who respect and value the people and things around them as well as themselves. Aren’t these the ultimate goals of parenting? As far as I can tell, assisting my children in understanding and achieving these is the one thing I, as their parent, absolutely should do for my kids.