Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Walk a Mile

I have lost count of how many of these apology letters we have from Isaac, our eight year old. This latest one was written to us after he got home from school yesterday. Just before school let out, Isaac had watched his teacher compose an email to us outlining his behavior from the day... none of which is worth repeating in this post.

As I type this, I wonder how many of you are thinking to yourself - or possibly saying out loud - "Why can't you get a handle on that kid?"... "If he were my kid, I would { insert something profound here }" ... "Anne and Matt are the biggest pushovers and if they would only { insert something profound here }".

Which reminds me of a conversation I had with my neighbors a couple weeks ago. They have two boys - one is a senior in high school and one is a freshman in college. We have watched their boys grow into young adults over the past seven years. Isaac and Audrey are currently just about the same age these boys were when we became neighbors with their family.

In my conversation with this couple, they had told me that a few years ago, another neighbor had witnessed their boys do something stupid, and that same neighbor told the parents that he should not have to parent their children. I get that gentleman's point; however, he has no idea what he is freakin' talking about. At the time, he and his wife had no children of their own, let alone children with the ability to speak and act without 24/7 supervision.

I admit and will confess that I have drawn negative conclusions about children in our neighborhood or at my kids' schools, when their behavior has been less that stellar... and I have been quick to judge how they are parented. The boys I mentioned above have acted like dumb-a**es on many different occasions and have done some really stupid things, as have my children. None of us should be naive enough to think that our kids would never { insert stupid thing here }.

As my children get older (and as I am hopefully growing wiser), I realize that none of us have the right formula or answer when it comes to parenting. There ARE some obvious foundations of parenting that are no brainers, but until you... until I... have walked in a parent's shoes, it is better to offer support to fellow parents, rather than judgment. Because until you have been there, done that, there is no validity to your opinion. Really. You may THINK you know the textbook answer, but you don't. Neither do I.

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