As parents, our job is to take care of our children and give them the best possible future. But where do our responsibilities end?
Life is a strange thing, isn’t it? We didn’t ask to be conceived or born. We didn’t ask for the family we were born into, and we had no say in how we wanted to look, what sex we wanted to be, or what basic character traits we wanted to possess.
The reason we are here at all is because our parents had sex. Planned – or in my case, unplanned – and pop! Nine months later here we are. That single moment, when our father’s sperm becomes one with our mother’s ovary, defined and shaped our parents’ lives and put upon them many duties and responsibilities towards us.
But where do a parent’s responsibilities end and where do our duties commence? What is it that we can demand of our parents and, more importantly, what can they deny us? As a daughter and parent myself, I’ve finally discovered the things parents simply don’t owe their children.
Money – After a certain age, a parent does stop owing his or her children money. When you’re 16 and fully able, your parents should not be required to financially support you. This is for various things. Having said this, I personally believe that parents should continue to support their children’s education. If, as a parent, you want to give your children money to travel, buy clothes, go out or get the latest gadgets, that is completely fine. However, children should not expect it, and they should definitely not demand it. After all, that’s a privilege and not a right.
Guilt – Some children, including my younger self, make parents feel guilty. The you-brought-me-into-this-world-now-deal-with-it tantrum is something we’ve all done, and as parents, it’s something we’ve all experienced. Yes, we’ve brought children into the world, but we deserve a pat on the back for that not to feel guilty. If you’re a decent parent who has always looked out for their children’s best interests, feel proud… not guilty.
Popularity: We all want out children to be popular and well loved, to be looked up to and adored by teachers, but they can’t all be Evelyn. When my child comes home telling me his teacher reprimanded him, I always ask him, ‘What could you have done differently?’ Popularity is earned and not a given, and that is something children need to learn the hard way.
A cleaner: When my son was a baby, I obviously had no trouble cleaning up after him, washing him, making sure his stuff was clean, and everything else that comes with having a baby. Now, at 12 years old however, it’s his responsibility to make his bed, put his dirty clothes in the laundry basket and keep his room clean. I sometimes feel guilty doing it, I must admit, but as I’ve said before, he is his own person. Plus, having some responsibilities will help him grow into a better person – or at least, I hope it will!
Quick Food: As a mother, I always give my son a healthy and nutritious packed lunch and I always make sure he has money with him just in case he fancies a snack or runs out of bottled water. But I can’t stand him huffing and puffing when he comes home and the food is still being cooked. Children must be taught that patience is a virtue and that nothing comes out of nothing. I understand that, for my son, the difference between a homemade stew and a pre-packed lasagne is minimal. He probably prefers the latter, to be honest. Yet, I am a working mum, and I can’t always have dinner ready at 5pm on the dot. Seeing as I don’t starve my child, I’m fine with that.
Realistically, that which I find I don’t owe my child is personal. The truth is, if I could have dinner ready at 5pm every day, I would. If I could buy my child everything he fancied, I would too. But sometimes, it’s important to appreciate our limitations – not just physically and financially, but also emotionally.
Do you agree with Evelyn? Are there any other things you think parents don’t owe their children?
Let us know in the comments section below.