Setting the Example

I have had a very busy, but enjoyable week. I have been having dinner with the same four or five girls every month for the last five years. We all have children (ranging between ages 2 and 15) and just truly enjoy each other’s company. Each person makes a dish so it’s not extra hard on the host. This month’s dinner was at my house.  We never seem to know where the conversation will take us but this month we were primarily focused on the worry we have for our children. You constantly hear horror stories of girls getting beat up on the bus or a boy being jumped by a large group. This week I actually heard of a seventh grade girl beating up on a seventh grade boy with special needs. We worry about our kids choosing the wrong friends or being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

One of my girlfriends started to ask if these kids who act like this are from broken homes. She stopped herself quickly remembering that I’m divorced. I kind of laughed. I think most of the kids who are out running all over town with no supervision, getting into fights, being suspended from school, threatening other kids, being sexually active at a young age, etc. are from broken homes. However, I don’t think every divorced home is a broken home. My ex-husband and I get along very well for being divorced parents. Neither one of us would ever let our 12-year-old daughter just run all over town every day without knowing where she is. We both monitor her texting and Facebook so we don’t have to worry too much about cyber bullying. There is always a parent around at night to make dinner, tuck them in and be there in general. My ex and I always back each other up on parenting decisions and try to discuss those decisions before talking to the kids. He also will come to our house in a second if we feel that we both need to address and issue. We have luckily learned how to co-parent well.

The children I see running all over town, getting in fights, etc… are kids whose dad (or mom) is never around. The parents work second or third shift and the child is home alone. The family moves often from town to town or even from apartment to apartment in the same city. Now note, I lived in three apartments in the same city in a 7 year period. However, I never moved because I was skipping on rent.

The daughter of one of our friends is extremely close to a girl most parents consider trouble. The poor girl needs some positive influences in her life but do we want one of our girls to be influenced by her? Her language is terrible, she constantly has different boyfriends (she’s 12) and she runs all over town. So the thought was, how do we keep the daughter of our friend from being “pulled down” by this girl. We know if she’s told they can’t hang out that she will just sneak. How would you handle this?

I’ve spoken to a lot of different women this week between work, shopping, dinner at my house, dinner out for my birthday, etc… Another thought I had (as I heard an eighth grader at our school is pregnant) is that we moms, whether we are single or married, need to be setting the example for our daughters. If we are dressing in skimpy clothes (wow, you should have seen some of the dresses the seventh graders wore to their holiday dance – I couldn’t believe parents would buy such a thing), going on numerous dates that are children know about, having boyfriends or “hookups” over when our kids are there, using foul language, balancing several guys, talking about fights like they are cool, gossiping about other parents, etc… then our daughters are going to think that’s okay. Even if we think we are hiding the behavior…. These teens and tweens are not stupid. They hear things. We have to set the example for our girls. I want all of the women reading this blog to stop a minute and think…. Would you want your daughter having relationships like you have, behaving the way you do, dressing like you do, and talking like you do when she is your age? Seriously? And to those of you who let your kids run all over town all hours of the day and aren’t home with your kids much… is this really what is best for them?

I know we all do our best and I am not being judgmental. I just think that sometimes we need a reality check. J

I know this is getting a little long but I wanted to mention we also talked about the boys. All the moms in our dinner group tend to have boys who don’t really play sports, have huge imaginations, love chess and technology and are extremely creative. This makes the moms worry that their boys might be bullied someday. Although I think all kids get teased for one reason or another, my hope is that there are so many more boys like this nowadays that it won’t be an issue. What do you think?

I can’t wait to hear your input! Have a great holiday!

P.S. These photos are taken from Google Images.

6 thoughts on “Setting the Example

  1. Gina, this is a very tough discussion. I agree with your thoughts around setting a good example and being involved in your child(ren)’s lives and trying to keep an open communication about tough topics. Knowing who their friends are and making sure they are busy when the ones come around that you don’t want them to hang out with. I’ve also heard from more experienced parents that healthy activities outside of school are extremely important (like you’ve mentioned about chess, sports, theatre clubs, etc). Regardless, our children are going to see and be involved in some ugly things throughout their life. The best thing we can do is try to give them the tools they need to handle those or to make the right choice when forced to chose. I appreciate this conversation and look forward to other comments.

    • I like the distinction you made between divorced/single parents and broken homes. I think the most important thing a parent can do is develop confidence in children, which is how they grow up to be good decision makers who are not influenced strongly by peer pressure. But how do you develop confidence in kids? I think it is by giving praise for successes, providing support but not doing things for the kids,challenging them with difficult tasks or situations, making them get a job outside the home to earn money in middle/high school, and just letting them know they are loved and special. Kids need to feel some difficulty and challenge. Kids today are coddled so much more than we were as children. You become strong when you are forced to work through problems. And then I must add one more thought to the last comment. I don’t think Gina’s son or mine will have to worry about being bullied. They are good friends and a lot alike and they can take care of themselves. I’m glad I haven’t had to face the drama of adolescent girls yet, although it will be coming in 5-6 years.

  2. Gina, I am raising my children in what until now to my knowledge is called a “Broken Home”. I had no idea, this is how my family is considered… I guess it’s because I don’t speak this language! My “Broken Home” includes me, my two sons, 20 and 15 and my daughter who is 5. I work 40-45 hours a week as a Retail Manager. I have 3 great girlfriends who I try to keep up with at least once a month. I try to workout and I try to have some Laura time, just because I feel that is important for me. I am always on the go and get sick a lot, because I get about 5 hours sleep each night. What I find interesting is this perception, that a two parent home is not “Broken”.
    I have a food bill of about $1300/month, there is not a Saturday morning, on my way out to work, that I don’t walk over at least 5-8 boys who have slept over, I NEVER miss a school event, play or game. My children want for NOTHING! and everyday I wake up at 6:30am and make breakfast, lunch and dinner, before I go to work. I do not have a Nanny or family help at my finger tips. I do the grocery shopping, I do the laundry, I do the cleaning and I am the town “Taxi Cab Driver”. I could higher a nanny and a house keeper, but I don’t.
    Before I let my 15yr old out of the car in the morning, he gives me a kiss and tells me he loves me. My daughter the same. My 20 yr old calls me everyday and says, “Mommy, I love you”.
    The 5-8.10 boys that show up on Friday night and leave Sunday morning, know that, I am not to be made a fool out of! They know the rules and they know that if they are broken, they are no longer allowed at my home.
    My 20yr old has been going to school up North and his friends stop by and say hello, watch a movie or play XBox.
    They call me Laura or Mom.
    When they come in, they give me a hug and ask how I am doing.
    I love these kids as if they are mine!
    Several of them come from “Broken Homes” and many of them come from Beaver Cleavers home.
    My Son Brian, was just accepted into the Cincinnati Art Acadamy and my son Daniel is at Highlands and is on the Football team. Liliana is just having fun, but wants to be a dancer and could install any computer available!
    “Broken Home” is a MEAN AND HATEFUL word. Bad children aren’t born, they are a product of their enviroment.
    I have 3 Biological Children and close to 25 children who come to my home, my chaos, my world, because they know that I am watching, listening and will not hold back, because I CARE AND LOVE THEM!
    I hope this clears up the perception of a “Broken Home”!
    Laura Parks-Kremer

    • You are a great mom Laura. Which is exactly my point. Single parents can provide just as loving and structured, sometimes more, as a 2 parent home. I am also a single mother home that typically has way more children than my two. And I love that. I want the kids to feel comfortable here and the parents to know the kids are safe when they are here. If they are here, they are not getting into trouble. The issue is the parents, married or not, who aren’t setting good examples or who allow their children to run all hours of the night and then are shocked when their kid gets suspended. The other issue is when your child or one of your best friends’ children hangs out with this troubled girl. How do you ensure that she remains the positive attitude and doesn’t get dragged down with her? At what point do we speak up to parents and other kids? And to be clear, I don’t believe having a single parent home makes a broken home. Not for a second… Broken homes are made up of all kinds…

  3. I talk to my daughter daily about what is going on. We have a very close connection. She may be in a broken home when she is with her mother, but when she is with me she is safe. Her mom gives her the easy life, and pays for her cell etc without having her do much work at all. I believe in having your kid have responsibilities unlike her mother. So I would say a broken home is what u make of it. You need a strong mail presence to guide the child and luckily for her I am the one to guide.

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