Parents Let's Get Real About Parenting

By Courtney Daly-Pavone October 14, 2023

*This Article Is A 5 Minute Read

Johnny Cash once said, "If you want to know what I believe in ask me about it today." 

What he mean't was don't speak for him, don't make assumptions about him, and you need to acknowledge that he's evolving as a human.

You probably have experienced a reincarnation of yourself every decade, inherently gaining knowledge and wisdom, and there is no greater crash course in maturity than parenting. The moment you drive your baby home from the hospital you change, just to give you an example. 

Last Friday the thirteenth my nuclear family faced conflict. It started with my husband's job stress compounded by my thirteen year old son refusing to go on a weekend camping trip with the Scouts. My husband had committed to being the Scout leader last weekend. He was supposed to drive the kids, food had been ordered etc., and now he had to email the Scouts and make up an excuse, adding more stress and guilt on his plate. I was at my day job fielding the calls and text messages from both parties as to who was being a bigger pain in the blank. I was happy to be at work, but I returned home that night only to utilize my peace negotiator skills. 

"Can't you just go camping?" I asked my husband.

"No it's too late, and our son doesn't want to go."

"He doesn't know how much fun he'll have. You shouldn't give in to him so easily," I said for what seemed like the one thousandth time.

We went back and forth with this. My son's excuse for not going was, "These kids weren't on social media." 

"That's a pretty lame excuse in my book," I told him. 

Excuse number two was, "Well they don't hang out at the gym and have girlfriends." 

"That's another lame excuse," I said. 

I explained how you can do different things with different people, but it's important to get along with everyone and share new experiences. He slowly came around and understood. 

Now I had to talk to my husband who sat slumped in his chair working way past 5 PM on his laptop, and would sit in that chair until midnight, and he still wouldn't catch up on his workload. I felt sorry for him, but I was mad that he hadn't stood up to our son. 

So Let's Recap... 

My husband was stressed out about his job, stressed about the camping trip, stressed that his son didn't want to go after all of his preparation, stressed that he disappointed the other parents and kids that were counting on him to volunteer, and now stressed that his wife was mad at him for not standing up to his son.

That's five issues, would anyone else like to step in line and have a beef with my husband? 

This is just one story of a stressed out parent. You probably can relate. 

I believe music is medicine so I think it's time for another musician quote. Joni Mitchell once sang, "I see life from both sides now." I couldn't have seen this just a few years ago, but I do now.  

I have advice for my significant other. Tell the Scouts what really happened. Don't make up an excuse and look like a flake, or a jerk. Tell them what I just shared with you, and I am willing to bet that the other fathers that work so diligently to raise young men you can be proud of can relate to your situation, and share similar feelings and experiences, and that's called community. It's something our society has a deficit of. We are so busy trying to be perfect at work, at home, and online, that we forgot how humans evolved. We evolved in groups helping each other, talking to each other, fighting our battles together no one should be isolated. When the in fighting occurs in your nuclear family, hopefully you have extended family to offer guidance and support. Friends and neighbors can also be there, church, school, and so on.

I will admit I have faced challenges as a New York native who got married and moved 3,000 miles away from my family to raise a family. Doing it all on our own has been hard, and I am not the type to ask for help. Friends offered, but I always thought I had to save those times for when I really needed it, like an emergency reserve. I never wanted to exhaust my resources. 

Since my mom had raised us away from extended family, and my father's parents had passed before I was born I didn't think it was strange to move to California. I love it here, but my only child wishes he grew up with his cousins. He cherishes the time he spent in Vermont with his late Grandmother. In 2021 a long overdue trip to Italy gave him the opportunity to connect with his dad's family who previously were just ominous voices at the other end of a cell phone, and Facebook posts. They don't even speak English. Being on their turf was like being in another place and time, but now he understands his father better, why he thinks and feels the way that he does, and it has improved their relationship. It has made him closer to his grandmother in Italy. It built a bridge.

The Surgeon General gave a warning about a loneliness epidemic 

I'm really trying to take the time to see friends, family and neighbors face to face, and listen to them. I might have other things that occupy my time, but time with them is precious. 

Let's be social, not just on social. 

Let's be transparent and ditch the filters. 

Let's own up to our mistakes which are just lessons in disguise. 

I started my career as an intern on a PBS news program called The MacNeil/Lehrer Report. Jim Lehrer once said that "A good journalist isn't afraid to show their ignorance about a subject. If you don't know something, chances are the viewer doesn't know either so don't be afraid to ask." When I started reporting I thought I had to look knowledgeable, important, I wanted to be taken seriously. I pretended I already knew all the answers, and I sucked at my job until I followed Jim Lehrer's advice. His advice is applicable in all areas of life, because transparency and honesty are relatable to people.

Keeping up with the Jones' was a way of looking at your neighbors as adversaries, not friends. The grass is greener on the other side is another way of stating envy for another's life. This way of thinking didn't just suddenly appear in the age of social media, it's just been exacerbated by it, and it has had a polarizing effect on society as a whole. The only answer is complete transparency. Parenting is a tough job, but by being open about our common battles and supportive of each other in hardship will allow us to thrive in our global village.

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