The Joys of Counter Parenting

My friends give me thoughts, lots of them. They raise great points in conversations about anything and thanks to them, I have things to blog about.

In a recent conversation about the battlefield we know as parenting, a friend and I were discussing the A-hole parent. We all know one, we all have been one, but this particular brand of A-hole parent is the one we have to counter parent because of.

Counter parenting is what I do when the child of an A-hole parent has gone too far as a result of being a spoiled, unapologetic, inconsiderate, undisciplined, bratty brat. I think I heard the educated person in me say something like “neglected” but what ever. I’m not listening to the educated person I might be. I am going to just indulge the irritated parent I am, with a side of chocolate to aid in the digestive process. Grab a side of Godiva and enjoy.

Parents who refuse to raise polite and considerate children are doing the rest of us a disservice and they irritate me and my child, my friends, and a lot of others. Just please stop. Dear overindulgent parent: No one wants to be around you and they can’t tell you. They may have mentioned it, and you had the audacity to get offended, standing your ground like Attila the Hun but with your hair done. That rhymed.

I have better things to do than raise my child using counter parenting techniques to offset your terrible parenting. I could be teaching junior quantum physics but instead, I’m teaching her coping skills, on a grand scale, and telling her that being a Buddhist monk at 10 isn’t really a consideration. My child is a master breather and one step away from being considered a self healer because we have had to stop and have thoughtful lessons on why other kids do the things they do and turn the shades of red and purple they do because they didn’t get what they wanted.  We live a very good life. I say yes as often as possible and no when necessary. Gwen happens to think I say no all the time, I am ok with that, until she gets entitled. Then I have put on my angry eyes.

She does chores, and asks why yours doesn’t. I don’t have an answer.  She wants to know why she has barbeques and pin the tale on the donkey for her birthday parties and yours has a grand theme and trips. I like simplicity. I want to keep my child grounded. She asks why your child has everything handed to them and she has to do yard work to support her Monster High Doll habit. Work has value I tell her. Gwen walks around our house singing songs from Annie and hypothesizing what life with Daddy Warbucks would be like and I really want to see if you’ll let her have a sleep over and try her on for adoption but the moral of that story isn’t something Erma Bombeck could pull out of “The Grass is Always Greener Over the Septic Tank”.  We all know real children would eat their weight in chocolate at that A-hole parent’s house and beg to stay as much as we’d want them to appreciate how much we are trying to raise humble, wonderful, philanthropic humans. Gwen doesn’t see her life as privileged and my only reaction is a blank stare and not because I have enough Botox to have a beautifully smooth and unexpressive forehead but because you are an A-hole! Balance is a struggle, but that’s our burden, it shouldn’t be our children’s or their friends.

When Gwen and I have our quiet time, the time in our day when school work is done, errands are done, we are just sitting and doing nothing, Gwen will talk. She lets it all out in those moments. Sometimes they scare me because they are the questions I don’t want to answer, the questions that mean she’s growing up.  The explanations for what she heard from little Sally or Jonny, or worse yet, YouTube, where I have to explain a colloquialism I’d rather her not have in her vernacular. Then there are the things that hurt my heart because some A-hole parent doesn’t have the chutzpah to tell their kid no, or take any joy in simplicity, or put their foot down and discipline their children for anything at all.  Your little hellion is a bully because of it. They don’t take any responsibility and guess what? Our kids don’t want to play with yours. They don’t want to be friends with your kids, hang out now, or when they are older, they won’t want to eventually date them either. They are making people miserable, they are going to continue making people miserable and it’s kinda your fault as the A-hole parent. Your kid probably makes YOU miserable too and you KNOW it! Why are you afraid of your child? Why did you give them all the power in your household? The short term “happiness” of letting kids have their way and not saying no is foolish. It’s just that, short term. Is it really worth it though? That short term happiness you get for giving in isn’t even happiness is it? The short term discomfort of saying no and dealing with that eye roll, whine, and or insert other foot stomping action here _____ is nothing compared to the added benefit of raising a child that is a decent human is immeasurable.

We are raising children that other kids are going to have to put up with. People that the real world is going to attack and we are doing them no favors by sheltering them and spoiling them. One of my friends was lamenting on a particularly irritating parent that was spoiling her daughters to no end and that her son was going to eventually date girls like that. He’d never be able to even get in the game one day with girls like that. She went on to say, “If we teach our kids that everything is going to be handed to them, who’s going be doing the handing out? Who are the generous ones?” Excellent question!

Say no to your children. There is value in it I promise you. I say no to my daughter, she does chores, she works to earn the extras she wants and she still hugs me, tells me she loves me, and cuddles with me on the couch to watch movies. I even caught her doing a load of laundry on her own the other day. My heart swelled as my cashmere sweater shrank, but she is learning to care for things, herself, others, she’s learning the value of work, and I’d rather have a shrunken sweater than a jerk for a kid.



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