Friday, August 24, 2007

The Right Stuff... Or... Not?

I have a hard time understanding the trend I'm seeing in parenting.

Granted, I live on a lake. Yes, its a very laid back lifestyle. However, I am noticing that the parents of the children that live here are taking VERY little interest or hand in what their children are doing.

Let me back up a bit. In our VERY small community there are 4 families with children. There will be 9 kids from here going to the same school. They range in age from 5 to 11. We pretty much have K-5 covered. I keep track of Shecky. I know where he is and what he's doing almost all the time. (No one EVER knows what their kids are doing all the time, I'm not naive enough to think that.) He carries a walkie-talkie with him when he's out in the neighborhood and reports in to me if he goes to someones house or goes riding or what have you. I don't allow him to go into the woods or swimming without adult supervision. He still has the freedom of being able to play pretty much anywhere else he'd like. He has a set bedtime, even in the summer. (Yeah I know, I'm not anal about making him stick to it in so far as being ASLEEP but he does have to be in bed.) He has to stop playing outside or with his friends by 7pm. He has to shower and get ready for bed at that point.

The other kids that live here... have NO such restrictions. They go wherever they want. Do whatever they want. By their own admission, their parents don't have a clue what they are up to or where they are a great majority of the time. I actually had a parent tell me yesterday, "They just do their own thing. I usually just say go!" Several of these kids, (all but one or two) aren't in the grade they are supposed to be in. They've either failed a grade or been held back... or both. School isn't a priority in their families. The parents don't put any emphasis on it. The kids have virtually no desire to attend.

The kids are defiant and disrespectful of their parents.

I. Don't. Get. It.

Its not like these women work full time jobs outside the home. They have an opportunity and a RESPONSIBILITY to shape these kids into who they are going to be as adults. Do they not SEE that? Do they just not give a damn?

I've already started a "Reward Bag" for this school year. Shecky points out things all the time that he wants. I buy them up and when he does well in school he will be rewarded with an item from the bag. The stuff ranges from Yugio Cards to Pirates of the Caribbean Figurines to DVD's to PS2 games. Depending on the achievement he'll receive a reward of appropriate value. If he does POORLY in school, gets bad behavior reports, fails tests or God Forbid, gets a D or an F on his report card he'll get penalized. He'll be grounded from SOMETHING depending on how bad the infraction.

When I bought his school clothes I made sure they were dressy-ish. 3 button shirts with and without collars etc. Pants. Shorts and Logo Tee shirts are for playing in, not going to school. Its to help him realize School is different. Its important. Its SPECIAL.

I THINK about these things and when I talk about it to these other parents or when their kids hear about it I just get these blank looks. These, goggle eyed, WTF is she TALKING about looks.

I'm I thinking too hard about these things? Am I being a helicopter mommy? Is it WRONG for me to put the emphasis on this stuff? Should I be more lax? Am I doing all this wrong? I have no clue. I just know the kids in these other families... they choose to hang out here with the rules, with the family atmosphere, with adults that TALK to them and LISTEN to them. They're starving for attention and that really pisses me off.... and wears me out.


Tea Bag said...

wow, you are a control freak. and i mean that in the nicest possible way.

my parents just let me go do whatever, and look how i turned out. it doesn't much matter what the kids do during the day, what matters is what you do when they are there.

more than likely, they just don't get any discipline while they are with their parents.

personally, i think it's great that you live where kids can go wherever they want to without worrying about someone picking them up. most people would consider that a blessing.

NotAMeanGirl said...

You're right about not having to worry about someone picking them up. Its great! However wolves, snakes and various other critters can cause other damages. I guess it IS just me being a control freak.

zdoodlebub said...

Thanks for the great idea on the reward bag. That will be implemented for BOTH boys next week!

I'm with you, for the most part. (Although I don't mind a Spongebob tee worn to school.)

I've felt very blessed that Z's issues have "forced" me to pick him up at his classroom door and have a quick chat with his teacher every day. I've gotten to know a lot of the other kids that way and have a pretty darn good idea about what goes on from the mere 10 minutes a day that I'm present in those halls.

I know that a lot of parents who work full-time don't have that luxury. But there are also parents I see (who I know to be SAHM's) who park and wait for their kids to come out. Come on. Even just once a week, can't you extend yourself beyond your seatbelt and get your buns inside the school to have some face time with the teacher? They love it and our kids need it.

Unnaturally Blonde said...

I think you are doing it the way that parenting should be done. My parents always kept a close eye on me, but still gave me my freedom, which probably kept me out of a lot of trouble and gave me the freedom to think for myself sometimes. Hopefully when we start a family I can follow in their footsteps and yours too!

Wendy said...

I think you're doing exactly the right thing! I ca't wait until my kids are old enough to go to the park or even out on the block withjust a walkie talkie- they're 9 and 5, and I keep an eye on them at all times. Agree that it's MY job (I'ma SAHM) to mold these children into good adults... not someone else's)