I very recently engaged in a brief and testy exchange on Facebook. I feel slightly idiotic even admitting to that because first of all I don’t do conflict and second, I don’t do conflict on Facebook. Before long, I took the whole thing down so that I would not feel compelled to continue to respond to a quickly escalating debate.
I won’t go into it – much – but what you need to know is that several childless friends with very strong views on Parents and Kids Today and Common Sense and Discipline voiced their views to me and I, feeling provoked, came very close to playing the You Don’t Even Have Kids card. And this got me to thinking about the time when I Didn’t Even Have Kids. I had the card pulled on me a few times. It’s annoying and somewhat insulting. And yet, it is true.
Having started motherhood rather late in life, I had a good number of years prior to that to work myself into a state of sanctimony over How Things Ought To Be. Maybe I hadn’t had children, I reasoned, but I had younger siblings. I had friends with kids. I had even been a kid. When I was around other peoples’ children, my focus was on their misbehavior, and my inner mantra became focused on the discipline! And that children need discipline! And discipline! And this is the mantra of my child-free friends.
But for all their theorizing, there is one factor that they don’t consider, and that factor is love.
Of course people know that parents love their kids, but the depth and extent of that love is hard to fathom if you haven’t experienced it. It is that love that keeps a good parent striving for ways to deliver discipline that will not leave their child feeling beaten down. It is the love that has us considering the connection that we have with our children, and it is the love that has us nurturing that connection as we search for ways to teach our children.
I had many years to theorize about parenting, and now eight years to practice. And I can tell you, the theories are not equal to the practice. Parenting is a complex operation, and there is scarcely a moment of the day that my children do not somehow factor into my thoughts, whether consciously or subconsciously. In short, I practice being a parent far more than a child-free person even thinks about parenting. And for that reason, I consider myself the expert.
Tell me, parents…do you play the card?