TJ asked Tony (his dad) whether he would have to go to school if Tony was the President. The answer was a no brainer – of course he would have to go to school. He then wanted to know if he would ever get spanked. “Not by me for sure,” Tony replied. “Why would I want to get tired while I could take you to the prisons and have the warden do the job for me.” His response was hilarious. The whole conversation got me thinking though of how difficult it must be to parent in the public arena, to be for all intends and purposes a ‘superstar’ parent.
There is a popular cable show called ‘bling babies’ about the children of Hollywood superstars and how they dress. Now that is true pressure! What with the designer toddler sunglasses and shoes; but I am sure that is not even half the stress. I hate to imagine the pressure of having to discipline my child in public and have that be the talk of town or watch every morsel that goes into my mouth even though I am a breastfeeding mom because someone somewhere is standing in judgment.
The pressure may seem enormous when you are a public figure but the reality is the pressure to be a good parent is enormous no matter where you stand in the social strata. In this age of moral decadence and lack of absolutes, one is left to navigate in the darkness to decide what truly is right and wrong. Worse still there are experts world over who don’t seem to agree on what should or should not be done. Some think that it is important to spank over infractions, others think of spanking as a form of abuse. Some think it is a parent’s responsibility to set boundaries, others think it stifles the child’s creativity and sense of responsibility.
To listen to all these voices leads to much confusion. It is like the story of a man, his son and a donkey going to the market. The man needed to sell the donkey and took his young son along. On the way the little boy got tired and the man decided to let him ride the donkey, after a stretch they met with some old men who rebuked the boy for riding while his father, who was his elder, was walking. Faithfully the boy got off the donkey and allowed his dad to ride. Along the way they met with a group of old ladies who rebuked the father for being selfish, so the dad let his boy get on and soon the two rode along to the market place. A couple of kilometres further they met with a group of animal lovers who were appalled by the treatment given to the poor tired donkey… suffice to say the man and his son entered the market carrying the donkey.
This story may sound ridiculous and it does push the envelope quite a bit, but listening to too many differing voices can interfere with your common sense.
So what is a parent to do in this case? Simple, listen to the voice of logic and to your intuition. When I became a parent, my cousin, Judy, shared with me a truth that has carried me through the years - God chose me to be my children’s mother. I need to trust that I am the best mother they can ever have and work with it. That little bit of advice has seen me through a whole lot of drama and it works. So next time you doubt yourself and feel overwhelmed, remember you are the best parent your child can ever have. God chose you and we all know God does not make mistakes.