July 22, 2024
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July 22, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

I’m a horrible parent. I know, because my kids told me. And they’re my kids. If they wouldn’t know, then who would? It’s about time I admitted it. And it’s not just me; my wife’s a horrible parent, too. We’re a team. It’s about time I admitted it for her.

I can’t believe it took me 11 years to realize this. I apparently never learn. You can tell me something over and over and it won’t sink in until I come up with it on my own. Apparently, this is genetic.

We never hear it the other way: “You guys aren’t so bad; my friend’s parents are meaner!” All we ever hear about anyone else’s parents are the good things. “His mother lets him ride a bike without a helmet.” What are we supposed to say?

“Well, his mother doesn’t care about him as much.” That’s not going to come back to bite us:

“My mommy said your mommy doesn’t care about you.” As much! I said “as much”!

Sometimes, we don’t let our kids do something that, in the words of our kids, “everybody’s parents let them do.” Everybody’s parents. They all got together and had a meeting about it. And we weren’t invited because we’re bad parents. They don’t want to hear our genius ideas.

Everybody? Seriously? How do you know this? You’re not even friends with everybody.

Another way in which we’re horrible parents is that we don’t even give our kids everything they ask for. And they don’t ask for much. Just everything they want and everything they saw that they just realized they want and everything that everyone else has, even if they otherwise wouldn’t want it.

We don’t buy our kids everything they ask for in the store. Even things we can clearly afford. Sometimes we say “no” for no reason other than that we don’t want to say “yes” to everything. Aren’t we horrible? Sure, we could claim that if we give them what they ask for, they’re not going to stop asking for things. They’re not going to say, “Well I’m not going to ask for candy today because he already bought me a toy.” But that’s really just an excuse on my part.

Also, sometimes we say they can have the item if they earn it. If you can imagine. Adults can buy whatever they want even without earning it.

And not only that, we sometimes make our kids do things around the house without even rewarding them. Like picking things up that they left on the floor. Or putting their shoes away so they can find them in the morning. Or putting things in their knapsacks so they don’t have to do it in a rush the next morning with one shoe on.

But my point is that we ask them to do things all the time. All the time. Is this why we had kids? So we could have someone to clean up toys and put away homework and set the table for that many people? For goodness’ sake.

And it’s not like I jump for them. Sometimes I’m working on the computer, and they say, “Totty, can you play with me?” and I say, “No,” and they say, “So then can I play on the computer?” And I say, “No.”

“Well, I either need to play with you or on the computer.”

I’m a horrible parent. I should just stop working altogether and live out on the street so I can play with them all the time. But my logic is that I need to work so they can eat and outgrow clothing and continue to break things.

So I explain it to them:

“Why do you have to work?”

“So I can buy things.”

“Well, then, how come, every time we go to the store and we ask you to buy things, you give us a whole argument?”

Our kids think that we’re making up rules as we go along. And we sort of are. For example, we have a rule that they can’t come into our room in the mornings without knocking. And their response is, “Well, everybody’s parents wake up before them, and then wake them up.”

I don’t want to wake you up. I hate waking people up, because I know how fun it is to sleep. I yell at you all night to go to sleep, if I yell at you in the morning to wake up, I’m sending mixed messages. Who’s the bad parent then, huh?

Still me.

Am I the only parent out there like this? It can’t be, right?

“Don’t worry about it,” I tell my kids. “Everyone’s a bad parent.”

Mordechai Schmutter is a freelance writer and a humor columnist for Hamodia, The Jewish Press, and Aish.com, among others. He also has four books out and does stand-up comedy. You can contact him at [email protected]

By Mordechai Schmutter

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