Hey Kids!! Your Parents Know. We Just Don’t Say Anything.

Headline for all the children out there – most of what you think you are getting away with, your parents know.  How do they know?  They were once kids themselves.  They know how to get away with stuff, because they once did (or think they did). They may not say anything to you, but that’s part of what a parent does.

As my kids have gotten older and into ages that I remember reasonably clearly, I’ve tried to use my experience in my parenting.  I try to reflect back to put myself in their shoes.  Seems logical, right?  I figure, if I can think like them, then I can determine what to say to get them to understand my teachings.

However, when I think back to being 15, as my son is now, and think about what I was like then, I am afraid.  Someone once told me that it’s a miracle 50% of teenage boys survive adolescent stupidity, and I tend to agree.  However, I now know that I need to get over every little thing and move on, like, I presume, my parents did when I was 15.  And look!  I’m now 43.

I’d like to believe that I was a normal teenager in the mischievous department.  I ate candy and other sugars after I was told not to.  I stayed up later than I told my parents and, far too infrequently in retrospect, stayed out later than I was supposed to.  I “borrowed” money from my parents, usually in $20 increments, always intending to tell them later, but forgetting.  I experimented with cigarettes, also “borrowed” out of my mom’s purse, although I never intended to return those.  I may have, from time to time, told them I was going one place, really intending to go someplace else.  I’m sure there are other things that I’m forgetting.

I used to wonder how my parents never knew $20 was missing and how they never heard me walking on the wooden floor of our old house and how they never noticed that the bag of Halloween candy was lighter than the night before, even though I was banned from eating any more.  Now that my kids are older, I know the answer:  my parents probably always knew, but they never said anything.  They had a “forest-for-the-trees” mentality, which was about teaching us right from wrong, but not assuming we could be good 100% of the time.  It was a measured approach.

My wife and I are doing the same thing.  I know that my wife and I know more about what our kids do than they think we know. They just don’t know that we know, just as I didn’t know that my parents knew.  (Still with me?)

Headlines for the kids again — We know when you don’t go where you tell us you are going.  We know when you don’t wear your helmet when biking or rollerblading.  We know when homework isn’t done.  We know when you play video games all night when you should be sleeping.  We know whether you practiced the piano or not.  When we know you are fibbing about something, but we don’t always make a big deal.  When know when our wallets seem light and when the television is on an odd channel and the web browser is on an inappropriate site.  We just don’t always demand to know what happened.  We have fallen into the same measured approach.  Not everything can be World War III.

What worries (scares?) me as a parent, which I’m sure worried (scared?) my parents and my in-laws, is that we parents can’t possibly know everything.  The best we can do is teach right from wrong and choose when to intervene.  Our only option is to use what we know to the best of our ability and not worry about each and every decision they make at each and every moment.  That’s the right thing to do.

But wouldn’t GPS chips in our kids’ arms be really cool?


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