There are so many clichés around parenting that I could literally fill a book. I like “no one said it would be easy” for parenting and many things. In fact, most of the best things in life aren’t “easy.” They may be fun, but they are often not easy. Dennis Prager has often talked about this very fact when he speaks on happiness and differentiates between what makes us happy and what is simply fun.
It’s pretty certain that few parents would describe the overall experience of having and raising kids as “fun,” though most would likely point to many “fun” times. I suspect it’s the challenges of parenting that often define its impact on us. It’s also said that “You never stop being a parent,” and this is so true. When our kids get bigger, their problems simply get bigger, too (yet another cliché).
I often wrote about my problems as a single dad, the various challenges I faced when my boy’s mom left the home, and how it was raising teenagers, and more that would not likely fall in the “whoope-dee-do” fun column of life.
Now, I’m at the end of a family crisis that is too personal to go into detail since my boys are entitled to privacy. Nonetheless, it provoked me to write this column as a form of (self) therapy and to remind myself that, hopefully, “This too shall pass.”
Since we all tend to like lists and list posts, here is a list of some of the many challenges most parents face and those that many (fortunately) do not.
~~ Becoming stupid overnight is particularly hard for most parents to understand upon their children entering their teens.
~~ How did previous generations handle “this” is a common thought and refrain. The “this” being whatever we’re going through that seems insurmountable in the moment.
~~ Who said it would be so darn expensive?
~~ Regarding college I simply say, WTF! Everything about college, from college prep (which begins in some communities by the choice of pre-school) on through their entire primary education, up to and including applications and attendance, is fraught with challenges.
~~ Bullying is the problem du jour. Now, we’re hearing about 300-pound NFL players bullying each other. I think this is an overblown problem, but it is still a problem, nonetheless.
~~ Money and Time with the kids is a horrible problem today. For many single parent and dual-parent households, making ends meet requires a lot of working hours. For others, it’s a choice they make to have more things. My heart goes out to those that really have financial hurdles while I challenge those that can spend more time with their kids to do just that and, perhaps, forego that new car!
~~ We no longer can trust our public institutions to protect and educate our kids with the values most of us live by. With the removal of anything God-related from the public sphere, the politically correct textbooks, and gender-equal curriculum, some parents have to literally re-educate their children from the indoctrination of many school districts. When it comes to most big colleges/universities, we’re doomed if our kids haven’t already embraced our values.
~~ Heroes are few and far between. Where we once looked to sports, political figures, even Hollywood for our heroes, few exist today so parents have to explain words like blowjob (regarding a U.S. President) and the like. What is twerking, anyway?
~~ Technology has both opened up the world for our children and assaulted their innocence. Our vigilance on what they see – from ALL their screens – is a job that cannot be ignored. It’s hard and it’s easy to slack with it.
~~ Where shame once was a tool of reticence and hindering bad behavior, our children now see bad behavior rewarded. So, Paris Hilton becomes a star when a porn video is “inadvertently” released. Sports stars get busted for drugs and worse, and often return to fame and glory. Politicians get away with things that would have ruined them just a few short decades ago and Hollywood, which once had whole PR departments “protecting” and “covering” for their stars, now has TMZ parading their every naked move.
~~ The family structure is in flux. Some of this some might consider progressive and inclusive. Some is simply destructive when, for instance, the government pays dads to leave the home so the family can get welfare. What does this teach our children and since when has an absent dad been good for a child?
On looking at this list, I feel a strong sense of helplessness. These are big issues. They’ve evolved over time and for a variety of reasons. Like a big ship, it can’t turn around quickly. All I can do is be the best dad I can be. All you can do is the same.
Feel free to add your own challenge in the comments section below.