I am tired of halfway parenting.
I don’t mean parents who are not involved at all, or “un-parents” (see also “couch mama“). Those people are on a whole different level.
I mean parents who take their kids places or sign them up for things and then stop parenting as soon as they walk in the door.
For example, Matthew had floor hockey Saturday morning, a wonderful and inexpensive program put on by Goal Sports. It is a nice excuse to get out of the house and give the kids exposure to different sports, the idea of teamwork, commitment, etc. the games take place at a roller rink, which is divided into 3 floor hockey rinks.
We got there about 15 minutes before it started so we could grab a booth to sit in and watch, mostly so I could pin Zane the wanderer (see Brilliant or Lazy?) up against the wall and actually watch the game. This, of course, backfired because he was antsy by the time the kids finished practicing (they practice 1/2 hour and then play a game for 1/2 hour) and so Matt and I took turns holding him while Matthew was playing, and then letting him run around with his sister and I when Matthew was not.
There is an abundance of people there and most were very attentive to their offspring, but here are a couple of things I noticed as I walked Zane.
1. One of the kids from the 3 and 4 year old team running around and playing across every “rink” while his coach had the rest of the team huddled up for instruction. Look, if you are in the program to help your kid get some structure and you are letting him run around like an animal instead of encouraging him to join his team, you are a halfway parent.
2. One kid climbing all over the walls next to the “please don’t climb” sign. If your kid can’t read, the sign is for you to translate for them, halfway parent.
3. Three kids sitting on top of the Skee-ball machines, which is obviously not what they are there for. If your kid does not know about respecting property and the intended use of things, maybe you shouldn’t let them out of your sight, halfway parent.
4. A baby that was barely crawling continuously licking the disgusting carpet while being babysat by her (maybe) three year old brother, no adult in sight. Hope you enjoy explaining to your doctor how your baby was infected with Dysentary, halfway parent.
Almost everywhere I go I continuously bite my tongue. A problem that comes with being a teacher is that I correct behavior all day every day without a second thought, but when I am out in public I feel like I shouldn’t do it because I have no relationship with these kids (and they might have crazy parents nearby). I am beginning think that’s wrong.
In the parents’ defense, perhaps I just happened upon a moment of weakness and the parent was in the bathroom or taking an emergency phone call or just having a quick ciggy in the parking lot (kidding).
We need to stop worrying about the repercussions of correcting the behavior of children that aren’t ours, because sometimes parents might not drop the ball on purpose. Kids need to learn right from wrong, no matter WHAT adult is helping them. We should worry more about kids that are never getting corrected, because if they mess up, it isn’t their problem, it’s all of ours.
If you see one of my kids messing up and I’m not around, help me out. I promise to do the same. In the mean time, do you have an “unparent” story?