When did we become afraid to parent our children?

When my eldest daughter was 15 and her year 10 formal was the biggest event of her life, amongst all the dress shopping, makeup and hair discussions, the subject of ‘the after party’ came up. I had no idea that this would turn into such a major controversy.

Being the rather old-fashioned and strict parents that we are, my husband and I said a big NO to our 15 year staying out until 3 or 4 in the morning. In our naïve minds the formal was a school function that ended at 11.30pm and then the children, children being the operative word here, would go to bed. Why do 15 / 16 years old have to be out till the wee hours of the morning anyway?

It transpired that out of about 150 families my daughter and her best friend were the only ones who were not allowed to go to the ‘afters’.

Putting up with the tears and tantrums from my daughter was bad enough but what infuriated me was on the night of the formal when we dropped her off I was actually approached by another mother who berated me for not allowing my daughter to go to the “afters”. This women went on to say that it was important to be my daughters friend, and that couldn’t happen if I wouldn’t let her do what she wanted.

I calmly, well somewhat calmly, pointed out to this woman that she had no right to firstly comment on how I parent my daughter and secondly that the important thing here was that I was her parent, not her friend.

I will be my daughters friend when she is all grown up and running her own life, until then I see it as my duty to set boundaries and rules that limit her risks, and guide her decisions. I do not set out to be popular; in fact at times I have stated that if my children like me I am not doing my job properly.

I see the ultimate success of parenthood being measured by producing happy, well-adjusted adults who know how to think for themselves, understand the value of hard work and the concept of delayed gratification.

If we don’t say ‘no’ loud and often how do they understand that the world does not revolve around them?

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