Monday, March 5, 2012

Does Parenting Get Any Easier?

Well, I've been a parent for over 14 years now. My kids are still functional, so I guess I haven't been a complete failure, right? I like to think I'm a pretty good mom. I have good relationships with each of my kids and they come to me to talk about things that bother them, or even if they're just curious about something. I've tried to be more parent than friend--though I do laugh, joke around and enjoy hanging out with my children.

Still, there are times when I want to pull my hair out in frustration in those hard parenting moments. You know the ones I'm talking about? The times when your kids decide to test those boundaries and you have to be the bad guy. Or the other times when you're trying to guide them down the right path and it's a lot harder than you or they thought it was going to be.

Lately I've been feeling like the bad guy quite a bit. My teenager hasn't had much time for fun lately with all the work he's been doing to try and keep his grades up. He's a great kid. I know I can trust him (though that doesn't stop me from checking up on him now and then, just to make sure he's still doing okay). Anyway, this weekend has got me thinking and wondering if I'm doing right by him when I'm pushing him to get his reading done, to get that extra credit in, study, get is music practice in, do the corrections in the classes that will let him fix his work to get a better score and so on.....

He came home on Friday and did his chores (That's the day we have the kids do the majority of the house cleaning so that it doesn't interfere much with homework) and then went to his friend's house to work on a science project. Four hours after going to his friend's he still wasn't done and wanted to know if he could go back another day to work on it. I told him he had a pretty full week with his band concert, homework and catching up on his book-pages for English, so that probably wasn't possible. He ended up staying at his friend's house and working on the project all night. They got about 3 hours of sleep, I found out later when I went to go see the progress they made on the project the next day. I felt bad for telling him he needed to get it done that day when I saw how elaborate the project they were doing was. It looked awesome!

Anyway, he made plans to go straight from doing that project to going to another friend's house to do a history extra credit assigment. They worked on that for a few hours and then he read about 100 pages of his book pages, making it so he was only 500 behind instead of 600 (they have to read 1,000 pages per term and he fell behind due to his struggles in the geometry chapter of his Pre-Algebra class). He asked if he could go do something fun for a while and I thought of those 500 pages that still needed to get done in less than two weeks and hesitated. I did end up giving him the go-ahead though. He came back that night saying he didn't feel very good, but rather than going to bed and getting a good night's sleep, he stayed up another hour until midnight playing Xbox with his dad (the first time he'd been able in several days).

He woke up yesterday really sick and congested. He had to use both of his inhalers for the first time in a long time so he could breath (he has asthma). I told him to stay home from church and rest. I felt really guilty. I want him to have a good work ethic and learn that working hard will pay off, but I also want him to have time to be a kid, because that's what he is. It's so hard to find the balance there and with my 11 year old turning 12 in a few months and heading for junior high in the fall, I'm wondering if I'll ever find that right balance.

I want my kids to have time for fun, but I also want them to know that they need to be able to work hard to get to where they want to be in life. The competition for colleges and jobs is so much more fierce than it was when I was their age. I just want them to be prepared. I don't know.....hopefully one day I'll figure it all out, hopefully sooner than later! I don't want anyone working themselves sick.

What about you other parents out there? Have you got it figured out yet? I'd love to hear from you!