I am relatively easy-going. Okay, realistically, I am a control freak who likes to pretend I am easy-going. I’ll be real. I do like things my way. But who doesn’t? Honestly?
I do, however, try to play the “Devil’s Advocate” while considering my own feelings, my life, my way of doing things – in contrast with someone else’s. In most circumstances anyway.
One thing I keep telling myself (over and over, while beating myself in the head, over and over again) is “everyone is doing the best they can.” That said, what someone else might consider their “best” is rarely what I would consider my “best.” I get that. Truly, I do.
And on most days, that simple observation and explanation does it for me. Ok, that’s it! My self-indulgent, control-freak, internal conversation and momentary judgmental, psycho attitude is over. Done.
But I am struggling to understand how a parent could routinely and voluntarily leave their adolescent or pre-teen kid(s) at home alone, or with a roommate, so-called babysitter, relative or otherwise – every night or every day, most often both – and not feel even the slightest bit remorseful for doing so.
And I’m not talking for a just the regular 8 or 10 hour workday. That and more, as this person is gone at 7am almost every day of the week, and comes home just long enough in the afternoon to make or buy dinner. After maybe an hour or two at best, they leave the home and the children behind for the night. Only returning a little (or a lot) inebriated, typically sometime during the wee hours of the morning.
Every night, and it is now the schedule they’re used to. At least every other week. You see, these parents share joint custody of these children, on a week on, week off schedule.
Two weeks. Fourteen days and nights each month. That is all that is available to each parent for spending with the kids. That’s it. And school nights go by so quickly, there isn’t much time left to spend doing family stuff.
Realistically, it is four days (two weekends) a month for their parents to spend sharing quality time with them. Not much time at all in my opinion.
Then again, I have (almost) always enjoyed spending time with my kids. Teaching them, playing with them, talking with them, holding them snuggle-bunny style while watching a movie. For me, the more I learn about them as they grow older, as I watch them become the person they will be, the more humble I am; my heart filled with joy and overwhelming gratitude.
And for a parent who is so blatantly ignorant of the children’s needs – quite frankly, pisses me off. And it breaks my heart to see and know the sadness in their eyes, their lonely, heavy hearts, and I know how it feels, as a child almost lost from a parent’s life. My dad was gone most of the time, and even when he was there, sometimes he just wasn’t.
For this parent, any time not spent as taxi driver and/or cook is far and few between.
I just don’t understand, and I don’t want to understand. It kills me, and the control freak in me wants to do something about it. And as I sit and stew, and brew on the reality of the situation, flames in my heart grow hotter.
I believe wholeheartedly these parents love their kids. But spouting off the routine spoken words, “I love you” as they are leaving the house just doesn’t cut it. And it’s certainly not the best they can do. Can’t you spend every other week doing what you do while you’re not doing for your kids? And focus your good energy and attention solely on them during your week? Can you imagine how special that would make them feel?
These children are young, impressionable, vulnerable and lonely. And this is not okay. This behavior is teaching them how to parent, and they will most certainly show this behavior with their own children and families later in life. Get it together.
Parenting is the toughest job on the planet, but ignoring or neglecting your children is not the answer – at any age. If you’re not there to guide them, someone or something else will be.
Our kids deserve the best of us, not the rest of us.
(Getting off the soapbox now) since beating good behavior into someone’s brain is certainly illegal.
P.C. Shoffner – ©2015
This work by Patricia C. Shoffner is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. Based on a work at http://www.pcshoffner.com.