As college students, people are quick to ask us about our plans for the immediate future. Where are we applying to grad school? What kind of job are we getting after graduation? How do we plan to get that rap record deal?
Rarely are we questioned about our long-term plans — what we’ll do to settle into the real world as functional, competent adults. I’ve never been asked: What are your plans to start a family and what kind of parent will you be?
During my weekly hell, food shopping at Walmart, I had a thought-provoking experience. As I was heading toward my favorite Cap’n Crunch cereal, a little boy ran right in front of my cart and was about a millimeter from being decapitated. I watched as his mother stood idly staring at the selection of food, paying no attention to her child.
I easily could have ran him over, taken a picture and created a site called “www.deadpeopleofwalmart.com” to teach his mom a lesson, but I decided against it. This was far from an isolated incident. Almost every time I go food shopping, I see kids running and screaming lawlessly around the aisles with no supervision. Their parents are clearly not engaged, and there’s a good chance that these kids will keep running and screaming (or at least perform the age-appropriate equivalent) for the rest of their lives.
Working as a camp counselor this past summer, I saw even more of the same. As I was on the bus picking up some of the little ones, a little girl was in the midst of a fight with her dad over whether to bring an oversized teddy bear to camp, which the father refused. As she sat down on the bus hysterically crying, the dad came running out, stopping the bus, to give his little precious ball of joy her bear to staunch her tears. It finally made sense to me why she was the biggest brat on the bus the entire summer — she always got what she wanted.
Not all the children were like this. Others were extremely well-mannered, polite and eager to listen. Meeting their parents during visiting day explained a lot; I could see which had been brought up well and which had not. It reminded me of my relationship with my parents. My mom is extremely tolerant which makes telling her everything easy. My dad is strict but still reasonable. My brother and I never got curfews because my mom knew whatever we could do after curfew, we could do before. All she really cared about was that we were being responsible.
We were raised to always listen and respect authority, but also to enjoy life and have fun. My parents set essential but pretty basic guidelines; they were opposed to raising us under a totalitarian household. I’ve noticed kids who were raised by tiger moms and helicopter dads go crazy once they go to college, when they over-embrace their newfound freedom.
So you need to ask yourself: What kind of parent will you be if you have kids? Will you give them everything they want to make them happy? Will you watch over their every move to try and protect them? In my opinion, there must be a fair middle ground to be a responsible parent while allowing your child to grow and experience life. The most important thing is to have an open relationship with your child to talk about anything. This is why now, I’d like to take this time to tell my mom about that girl I knocked up last weekend. Just kidding Mom, love you!