One of my favorite mantras is that the job of being a parent is being our kids best parent rather than their best friend. As strongly as I believe in that, I also believe we can be cool to our kids by doing things that support being their best parent. This may seems at odds, but truly it’s not.
Once our kids get to be teenagers, life as we know it simply changes. Just keeping them alive is our primary job and their view of us changes dramatically but, hopefully, comes back to some level of sanity sometime in their twenties.
“When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.” ― Mark Twain
The irony is that the things we think will make us look cool are often not the ones that really will do the trick. Here’s a short list of my 15 suggested do’s and don’ts, in no particular order:
~~ Do not, I repeat DO NOT try to dress like them. This is especially true for moms who look absolutely ridiculous in their Forever 21 outfits! Dads, don’t wear baggy shorts or your baseball cap backwards.
~~ Be the consistent parent with rules and support in SHARP CONTRAST to many of your kid’s friend’s parents. This means that you hold to your rules. It will a beacon among your kid’s friends that you are actually doing the job of parent. Don’t think they don’t know the difference.
~~ Watch your use of slang and swearing. It’s not cool to them and it comes across as dad or mom trying too hard. NOTE to self: Listen to this!
~~ The ONLY word that transcends time is “cool.” You can use that. I suspect that its first use took place in the beatnik fifties and it’s been “cool” ever since to every generation. No other word, I think, seems to carry over to every generation.
~~ Let the kids control the radio in your car. Yeah, you’ll puke, but do it. You’ll not only come across as “cool” but you’ll learn a lot about what your kids are listening to.
~~ Watch what they watch some of the time. Don’t force your favorite old music or films on them. If they express interest, okay, but let them come to it, to your interests. When the kids are very young, it may be all right to introduce them to your favorite music, television, and movies but once they’ve become tweens, it is over. It is their time to assert their interests – let it be!
~~ Be careful how much interest you display when your kids have friends over. Don’t hover.
~~ Drive your kids as much as you can. Keep quiet when they have friends in the car. Listen and learn.
~~ Always have food available at your house. Whenever your kid’s friends are over, bring out food whether they ask for it or not.
~~ When you think something you might do is cool – do the opposite and you’re likely going to be doing the better thing!
~~ When YOU were a teenager, you couldn’t force “cool” – it truly only comes naturally so don’t try too hard!
~~ Parents LOVE to take photos and videos of their children. Be sensitive when you do this. Don’t be one of those parents who are shoving aside other parents at a school event. Don’t be one of those parents ALWAYS in the front shooting video and shouting instructions to your kid to wave or smile. DO NOT DO THIS!
~~ When you happen to get those great photos or video, do not force your kids to watch or look at them. Put them in your scrapbooks, edit them and post them on your Facebook profile, but do not tag them EVER.
~~ Try to remember how you viewed your own parents when you were a teenager. And, as hard as this may be, recognize that your kids probably view you exactly the same. Yes, this is not possible because you swore you’d do it differently but, trust me, you’re exactly the same (more or less) so get over yourself and accept that they simply don’t care about the things that you care about.
~~ Model a loving marriage if you can. There’s nothing cooler than a mom and dad that like and love each other. That said; do not be overly overt in your PDA’s, though a kiss and hug is perfectly acceptable in spite of your kid’s objections. Close the door to your bedroom when it’s that time. Put on some music so they can continue to believe that mom and dad only did it the number of times of kids they have.
Okay, dad and mom, go for it. Be cool, Daddy-O…