KRISTINA BEERS: Facing reality starts at home

“It’s not fair!” and the accompanying eye roll and/or scowl that, perfected on a sullen teenage face and wasted on an immune adult, is a refrain most every parent has encountered at one point or another; more likely, many, many times over.

Life isn’t fair, whether we like to admit it or not. Getting a child used to this and working with him in the safety of a family who loves him is my goal as a parent. Facing reality is, in my experience, the best way to form youngsters into dignified, just, honest adults.

There is a funny meme I love, a picture of a crying toddler trying to escape his crib with the caption “Is that popcorn I smell….?? Those liars said it’s everyone’s bedtime!” (In looking it up for reference, I saw a companion meme: “I tried to login on my iPad. Turns out it was an Etch-a-Sketch and I don’t own an iPad. Also, I’m out of wine.” So there’s my humor.)

There are advantages to different stages in life. Right now, I may not have a crying toddler being upset he is missing out on a treat, but I do have a whiny teenager coming up with various ways to convince me he needs a phone (which he does not). 

Or the instance of last weekend where we met our new washing machine after retiring my stalwart girl of 13. After the Train (yes, I name my machines) was installed, I had three boys arguing about who got to do their load first. Not only did I break up that fight right-swift, I made it very clear MOM was the first to do a load. And not only did I get first, I get second through fourth loads as well.

You would have thought I just told them they had to move out of the house. The blank looks, the angry glares, the hanging chins — as if all three could not believe how unfair I was to make them wait! 

I assessed the faces and chose my next words carefully: “Oh hey, I didn’t realize you were planning on helping us purchase the washer! Forgive me! Of course you can go ahead of me — who is paying the most? He can go first.” That really incited all three because they knew they’d been had.

I take very seriously the need to contribute to the household and I don’t feel one bit guilty when I have to set things straight for a teen who feels he’s entitled to something simply for existing. We all have to work hard to earn those goodies and treats in life. Sometimes it’s hard work (jobs for phones, new washers), sometimes it’s maturity (growing older to stay up for popcorn), but it all starts at home.

Kristina Beers lives in the Remus area with her husband and five sons. She shares her thoughts on parenting teenagers and young adults on the first and third Saturdays of each month.