My breaking point came when I stopped at the grocery store to get some of my kids’ favorite foods because my kids weren’t satisfied with what I’d already brought home for the week. Instead of telling them to make do, I reluctantly returned to the store even though I was pressed for time and it was the last place I wanted to be.
As I was standing at the self-checkout aisle smelling like resentment, I was rehearsing how I’d give them a piece of my mind later. They’d been taking me for granted and I was sick of it.
The next morning I woke up to a few lights which were left on all evening. My oldest stayed up late since it wasn’t a school night and ignored my reminders to shut off all the lights. Then, as soon as my feet hit the floor, he started pressing me about why I was making him pay for the car insurance he needed in order to drive, and the registration fee for his car. “Why can’t you just pay for it? I worked hard all summer and bought the car myself. Why won’t you do this for me?”
“For the love of God, could you be anymore selfish,” I yelled and ripped the cereal bar he was eating out of his hand to get my point across.
He had no clue why I was so worked up.
I know teens are selfish. I’ve done my research and the fact that I often feel like I have three of the most unaware young adults living in my house has caused to me go to the Googles about this more than once. Why are they so goddamn self-centered?
Well, according to New Scientist, research suggests that “[t]eenagers are more selfish than adults because they use a different part of their brain to make decisions compared to adults.”
Yeah, no shit.
While I understand the research, I also understand when I’ve put up with enough shit and I need my kids to see me as more than just a maid and a bank. If I feel taken for granted, I’m going to get pissed and do things like change the WiFi password and not give my kids rides to places they want to go — I don’t care what the damn research tells me. It’s not an excuse to be a dickhole.
I want my kids to learn the value of a dollar. I want them to know what hard work feels like. I want them leaving this house with the ability to be compassionate and think about other people. Learning their parents aren’t a bank is a must and also, they need to learn how to talk to their mother in a respectful way.
Had my son come to me and said, “Mom, I know I’m short on cash, but I really want to get my car on the road. Can you spot me a few bucks and I’ll pay you back?” I would have agreed — especially if he’d taken out the trash and done the dishes without me having to ask him ten times.
But his entitlement, tone, and frustration with me when I told him “no,” made me not want to do anything nice for him. My buttons had been pushed (all the damn way) and I realized if I wanted it to stop, I had to take some of the blame and let my kids feel some wrath so they’d appreciate me a bit more.
It’s easy to get caught up in doing things for our kids because it’s how we show our love, and we want them to have more of what we didn’t growing up. But I’m also the person in charge of raising them. Part of that means giving them a swift reminder of how you treat people — especially those you depend on for food, shelter, and clothing.
There comes a time when doing certain things for our kids needs to be revoked because we are being treated like a doormat. And lately, I’d been lying on the ground letting them wipe their feet on me.
It’s never to late to make a change in your life, and your parenting skills are no different. So I’ve changed my tune.
Now, I will go to the grocery store once a week, regardless of whether my kids are unhappy with the contents of our pantry. (The obvious exceptions being toilet paper, tampons, or those Lindt chocolate balls I love and absolutely will not share.) My son will work and save money to pay for gas and insurance for the car that he has the privilege of driving. And I’m setting clear boundaries when I’m being taken for granted and feel invisible.
This doesn’t mean my kids will be perfect angels, of course, but I do hope that drawing limits will make me feel like a used dish rag a hell of a lot less. And sitting in the corner eating my chocolate and not being at their beck and call won’t hurt either.