Today’s word is Courage and I’m going to take a risk and define courage as I need it to be today. There are a million acts of courage being committed by regular people every day, and nobody gives them a pat on the back or a shout of praise for what they do. One of the most important of these extraordinary acts is preparing another human being to take his or her place in the world as a responsible, contributing citizen. That act is raising a child.
Really raising a child takes courage. I’m not talking about the first few years of parenting when a child accepts that you’re older and therefore in charge. No! Those are the easy years when you’re the hero and s-hero. Those are the years when kids say, “Mommy/Daddy, I want to live with you forever; and when I get married, my husband will live with us, too.”
Once kids hit adolescence and question your authority to make decisions for their lives, parenting grows more difficult and you wonder if you and your kid will ever be friends again. Not every parent experiences this stage and the rest of us envy you the child you received.
But for those of you who’ve been hit with, “Why can’t I go. Everybody else is going!” or “This is my room. Get out!” and the dreaded, heart piercing, “I hate you,”—this is the frightening, horrendous crossroads you were told to expect. Now’s the test. Will you lose heart here and risk your popularity by standing firm? Or, will you exit their room in tears—give in—and let them go to the mysterious party?
Parenting—really parenting—in a world that offers kids as much of what is wrong and evil as what is right and good—isn’t impossible. However it takes tireless energy, diligent monitoring, and loads of conversations with sullen, angry-looking pre-teens and teens who don’t appear to be listening to a word you say.
Even more risky than losing popularity is the risk of losing it to your partner. Yes, some parents compete for popularity and friendship, and it happens with married, divorced and single parents.
Courageous parents do what it takes to win the battle to protect our youth. As more and more parental control is siphoned off by cable, the internet, recreational drugs, and sex overload, they still fight to control what happens to their kids. Showing a united, co-parenting front is more important than being the favorite parent.
Courageous parents know they’ll live through, “I hate you.” They consider that high praise. It’s a badge of honor and you’re doing something right if you hear it.
Finally, don’t be afraid to look in that bedroom. Open those closets for a glance inside. It’s still your house. As my mom would say, “Oh, you hate me? Well let me give you a reason!”