I don’t know any perfect parents. Everyone has flaws, everyone has problems, and there’s no instruction manual for raising a tiny human. There’s no flawless, surefire way to know you won’t screw up. Everyone makes mistakes, and anyone who says otherwise is a liar. I’m not taking about being a “perfect” parent today; I’m talking about the bare minimum that outright disqualifies you if you don’t meet it.
If your child has to defend themselves from you, you’re not a parent. Physically, mentally, or emotionally; if you make your child feel like they’re going into battle just by being in the same room, that isn’t being a parent. Your child should NEVER, under ANY CIRCUMSTANCE, feel this way. If they’re afraid for their safety, if you victimize them, you have no right to call yourself a parent. Your child shouldn’t feel belittled, worthless, or left wondering if you even love them. I know lots of moms and dads, every single one willing to stand by their kids, holding their hands as they walk this world. This world is tough, guys. There’s so much to be afraid of, but you shouldn’t be one of them. A parent’s job is to be on their child’s side, not against it. Parenthood is not a war; don’t make your child’s home a battlefield.
If you don’t support your child, you’re not a parent. Kids take work. They take time, they take money, and they take YOU. You can’t abandon them or throw them away. They don’t just exist when you’re around, and POOF the minute you change your mind. And that doesn’t even stop the minute they turn 18; if you’re a parent, that means being there for them for the rest of your life. It doesn’t matter if your child is 5, 25, or 55. Having a kid isn’t just having a cute little thing you can dress up to show the world, and put away when you’re done playing with them. If that’s what you want, get a Barbie doll. Then again, I’ve seen Toy Story; Barbie doesn’t deserve that either. If you want to call yourself a parent, it’s not about you; it’s about them. When they need food, when they need a cuddle, when they need help with their taxes, it’s your job to be there. And if you’re a real parent, you wouldn’t even consider otherwise.
No parent I know hurts their child. If you’re breaking your kid down every chance you get, no way in HELL are you a parent. Your child shouldn’t have such crippling self-esteem issues they’re terrified to be over 100 pounds. Your child has accomplishments, goals, and dreams. Sure, being a fairy princess in the kingdom of the unicorns isn’t a logical career choice, but as a parent, you should be supporting and encouraging your children to thrive. And let THEM take credit for what they do. There’s a point where their accomplishments are not yours to claim. If you get jealous or take credit for the things your child does, you’re not a parent. They’ll grow, they’ll learn, and you should feel proud of them.
A child is not your possession. A child is another human being; they have their own life, and it’s not yours to steal from them. Again, IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU. Your child is not beholden to being your dedicated minion for the rest of their lives. Neither are they a pawn in some twisted game to get what you want. They’re not a weapon to be used against your partner, and they are not your property. “I gave birth to you” isn’t something you can hold over your child’s head when you want something from them. They don’t automatically owe you their lives. Your child owes you NOTHING. You don’t get to wave their very existence around as if it magically makes you superior to them. Let’s review the first sentence of this post: just because you had sex one night doesn’t give you authority over another human being’s consciousness.
If you want to manipulate and deceive your kid, you’re not a parent. Your child shouldn’t have to bend over backwards or walk on eggshells to try and keep you happy. They shouldn’t have to look back and wonder how many of your words were lies. That doesn’t even make you a shitty parent. You’re a straight up abuser. If you violate your kid’s privacy, their trust, or their bodies, you are the absolute worst kind of person. We’re taught not to tolerate these behaviors in friends, partners and lovers, but somehow “parents” get a free pass. “My house, my rules”. You don’t have the right to rifle through your kid’s things, read their diaries, or steal from them. It’s their house too. As human beings, everyone deserves to have a corner of the world to call theirs. Your child is no different. Their room, their bags, their locker; keyword THEIRS, not yours.
Here’s where it gets personal: Everything I’ve talked about here is my life. My mother was an alcoholic, and she mentally and emotionally abused my entire family for years. In 2013, she ended up choosing her addiction over her family. I honestly didn’t even realize the extent of her damage until she left. That’s the thing with abuse: if that’s all you’ve known, it’s normalized in your mind. It’s not until you’re free from it that you figure out no, waking up to slamming doors isn’t normal. It’s not okay for a parent to give backhanded compliments to their child, or to scoff at gifts that aren’t extravagant. You’re not supposed to have panic attacks at the sound of dishes breaking. All these are lessons I didn’t learn until the past few years, now that I’m grown. And I’m still learning to accept that. It’s hard, sometimes. It’s hard today. This is probably something I will struggle with my entire life. But I think what I have to say is important.
Parents, take care of your kids. Protect them. Love them. CHOOSE THEM. Only if you do that are you a real parent.