Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Parenting Never Ends

The summer break provides many a youth a lot of down time.  Summer classes, or recreational camps abound to keep students engaged in some type of activity, but those options are limited.  Parks & Leisure offers the public many outlets for kids to stay active, but there's only so much swimming or skateboarding one can do.  For us summer was a time to travel nearby to see relatives, go to the beach, or enjoy what the Main Boys Club had to offer.  But despite all the choices and distractions we had, at one point we uttered the words that annoy any parent: I'm bored.  When I saw the clipping (above) that a Facebook friend posted -- about restless, aimless youth and the reaction they incur -- it brought up some memories.

My mother would instantly suggest a chore for us when we'd get whiny:  pues, ay esta(n) el azadon/el trapeador/las vacijas/etc.  Of course, that's not what we wanted to hear.  It was just a way to shut us down quickly.  Neither side got what they wanted from that kind of exchange.  Thinking back on it, my mom probably did want us to help out more around the house, considering she was a single mother and probably appreciated any help she could get.  But then I take into account all the things she didn't make time for, like teaching me to drive, or having THE TALK with me.  I understand she had a lot on her plate, but there were so many opportunities where she could've imparted some wisdom in my time of need.  

And this is in no way a defense for whiny, complaining youth, but it's those instances where some are at they're most uninspired that a parent can make a difference.  

My aunt and uncle raised seven kids.  I can't wrap my head around the fact that one parent, for the most part, had to meet the needs of so many at one time.  Consistency goes by the wayside with so many kids, I would imagine.  What fascinates me is when a son or daughter is ready to go out into the world in some way or another, and one parent will chastise the young individual for having such adventurous whims.  You're moving in together?!  Why, you don't even know the price of bread!  You're moving to Boise?!  You don't even make your own bed!!!  

Who's fault is that?

I hear so much of family values being passed on generation to generation, but that doesn't really happen from what I can tell.  Growing up in the barrio, we got disciplined when we did something wrong.  We went to church and were enrolled in la doctrina.  I don't remember any of my elders ever imparting any sage advice to help me along in life.

I don't fault anybody for my upbringing.  It's just that I felt so unprepared when I officially became an adult.  I had the basic necessities, loving people around me who supported me, and a fun childhood.  Yes there were times when I was bored, but generally, I had a good time.

We're so quick to cast kids nowadays as entitled, and fortunate, saying to them that we didn't have it as good as they do now.  (Like if we had it so bad)  We'll scold them when they get whiny.  What we should do, instead, is impart some useful information that will benefit them.  I can't help but think of the lyrics to Jack and Diane, "hold on to sixteen as long as you can, changes come around real soon make us women and men."  Perhaps that suggests to kids that they should embrace their boredom.  If you're bored, enjoy it while you can.

As parents I hope we teach our children well and not talk down to them like the condescending son-of-a-bitch who uttered the words in the clipping above.  Kids will get bored, and they'll be annoying once in a while.  But that's the perfect time to talk to them about what we've learned, no matter how mundane you think it all is.

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