Back Seat Parents: Go Away

I have this person in my life. A friend, I guess you can call her. I have known her for a long time. We have been through a lot in the past. For the most part, she is a decent person. I just hate how she tells me to parent my children.

I am a single mother. I don’t know what help is. I understand she is a mother as well. By defintion, she is a single mother as well because she is not married. However, her children’s fathers are involved in their lives. She lives with one. The other takes their son a few nights a week. She gets help. She can go out. If I want to go out, I have to track down a trustworthy person, begged them to take a few hours out of their lives to watch my kids, and pay them. Sometimes I think it would be nice to just dump my kids on a live-in boyfriend and skip out to drink with friends.

I’m not saying I want that. My kids are my life. I do everything for them and if they can’t be involved, I don’t do it. I can go out drinking again in 15 years or whenever.

I’m just saying, our parenting is different.¬†She is a lot more tough on her kids. A lot more screaming is done in her house. A lot more that it gives me a headache. I try very hard not to raise my voice at my kids. It doesn’t always work out like that because I might find them drawing on the wall or spilling all the sugar on the floor and my anger could get the best of me. I try very hard though to count to ten, remove myself from the situation, calm down, and once we are calm to talk to them. Nor do I spank my kids. I feel like that doesn’t teach them anything other than to fear me, and I don’t want that because I am a single mother. I need and want them to come to me. I need and want them to trust me.

When I am around my friend and my kids have done something wrong, she feels the need to punish them. I don’t know how many times she has tried to send my son to sit in the corner while I was trying to deal with him. I do not do this at home. He has no idea what sitting in a corner is about. I don’t even get it. Yes, it’s a time out. Our time outs are a little more different than that, but my friend feels the need to inject herself into our family situation and make me use her choice of punishment. While I will give my son a time out, it does not consist of sitting in a corner, staring at a wall of nothingness. He will be seated at a table, with a notebook, writing out whatever I tell him — either an apology or an explanation of why he was wrong. I cannot guarantee he will be thinking about what he has done wrong if he has to sit in a corner, but if I have him write about it, it will be on his mind and I feel he will learn from it.

Sitting in a corner might work for her children, but not for mine.

A few weeks ago my son got into trouble at school. While it was a big deal, it also wasn’t a big deal. He didn’t know what he had done wrong was wrong because he is eight years old and doesn’t understand everything in life yet. He wasn’t punished at school because I had dealt with it at home and the teacher and principal had felt that was enough. Because my son was remorseful and apologized at school. I know the chances of him doing the same thing again are extremely low and that’s enough for me.

However, I mentioned it to my friend. She felt the need to “advise” me to ground my son to his room. For a whole weekend. No TV, video games, books, interaction with humans, or toys. That’s a little extreme in my books. I did ground him from video games for the weekend, but he was allowed to watch TV with his sister and play with his toys. I also spoke to him at great lengths about the issue and why he shouldn’t do it again. I was not cruel. I was not angry. I wasn’t even mad at him. He didn’t understand and I understood that. I used it as a learning tool. Taught him what was wrong and why he shouldn’t do it. I felt like that was enough for him because by the end of the weekend, when he had to meet with his teacher, principal and I at school, he understood he did wrong, apologized, and as I said, was extremely remorseful about it.

Apparently that wasn’t enough for my friend and she let me know… a lot.

I have expressed my annoyances about it to her. I have asked her to stop. She is not my children’s parent. She is not me. She doesn’t even live with me. I don’t know why she has to inject herself into that position. She has said it’s because I am a single mother and she is only trying to help. But I never asked for it. I don’t need it.

Yes, being a single mother is not an easy thing, but so far… I think I am doing alright. My children are fed. They get washed (maybe not as often as I like since my daughter has this unreasonable fear of water). They are clothed. They have more toys than they can play with in a day. They are loved. And they are normal. Neither of them are hurting others, expect maybe each other when they fight. They are respectful to others. They even say their please and thank yous without prompt.

So while I am a single mother, I am doing my best. I don’t know how to get her off this back seat parenting since asking obviously doesn’t work. I don’t back seat her two children, even though I really want to sometimes. My solution for the time being is to avoid her as much as possible. Limit the amount of time she sees them. Can’t parent them if they aren’t near you.

Maybe she’ll realize I don’t need it or want it. Or she’ll finally realize I haven’t totally screwed up my kids. Or maybe she’ll forever be like this.

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