| Family Farce: Purim 5783 |

Sidekick — Frankly, Raising Parents Is Hard, Too   

We speak on behalf of not only ourselves, but most children in the world today

IT has recently come to our attention that our mother has been gleaning material for her articles from our daily lives. While we have no idea why anyone would find that subject matter interesting, we do understand why she would choose to write about us. What else could she write about?

On a related note, she really needs to get out more.

After much discussion, my brothers and I decided that if there are people willing to read about our mother’s parenting adventures, then perhaps it’s time to share the other side of the story.

We feel it’s our duty to bring awareness to the often ignored and swept-under-the-rug issue of how hard it is to raise parents these days. We speak on behalf of not only ourselves, but most children in the world today.

For starters, the fact that we as kids are given the task of revamping our parents’ sleep schedules is expecting a bit much. Don’t get us wrong — we knocked that job out of the park, but it sure wasn’t easy. The early years were especially rough since our verbal skills needed work, but we’re pleased to say that we can now disrupt healthy sleep rhythms with really, really long conversations about why sleep isn’t necessary tonight, why midnight is an appropriate time to wake up and insist on baking the cake for next week’s birthday party, and why five a.m. is officially morning.

To all children out there who are still in the middle of their parent-sleep-training journeys, know that you’re not alone. Stay strong, we’ve all been through this rite of passage, and it does get easier.

Speaking of verbal skills, we don’t want to make light of the time and effort we invested in this area. For some odd reason, parents have this crazy expectation that when they’re talking to another adult, they should be able to get out a complete thought or utter a single sentence without us interrupting by sharing opinions/questions/demands or participating in some life-threatening exploit.

And sometimes we only have a small window of opportunity to find out whether balancing on seven stacked cookbooks and a wheeled suitcase to reach something sharp is a good idea or not. We’re not here to rest, we’re here to explore, and some parents just have a harder time adapting than others.

When teaching your parents how to communicate, it’s important to impress upon them that details matter. For instance, when they say, “find your shoes,” do they mean that you should search for your sneakers seconds before you leave the house? Or do they mean when you finish reading the book you’re in the middle of? Or do they mean right this minute?

When your mother asks you to clean the playroom, does she mean only the toys you played with and touched with your own hands? Or perhaps only the toys you touched within the last five minutes? Surely she doesn’t mean that you should clean all the toys. If only she communicated more clearly, so much unnecessary frustration could be avoided.

It’s important to establish that although parents should use more details when communicating, we children should remain as vague as possible. For instance, when parents hear a loud crash from down the hall, they might yell, “What was that?!” This is not the time to tell them what actually occurred. They really just want to know if anyone is bleeding or needs to be rushed to Urgent Care, so a generic, “It’s nothing! We’re fine!” should suffice.

Similarly, when objects or bones get accidentally broken, as they sometimes do, full disclosure about how they broke is not always helpful. Parents only think they want to know the details, but that’s before we give them the details. Then they regret asking.

Remember, we’re here to help build our parents up and give them a sense of success. Providing too much information could backfire and potentially set your parent-training back significantly.

We recognize that simply raising awareness and offering support to others in our difficult situation is crucial to being able to not only survive — but to hopefully thrive — while in the Parent Training years. For our fellow kids out there trying to raise parents as best you can, we see you. You got this.  


(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 833)

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