The Pendulum Swings

So last night Father Mario’s Homily really got me thinking why it is so difficult to BE a parent.


Well, no…the becoming a Parent in the Procreative sense is not difficult.  Too easy, if anything.   Yes, I know my grammar will be a bit off today, but what can I say, I am in a more “Laid Back” mood this morning  🙂

As I was saying, it is very difficult to BE a Parent, in the Parenting aspect of it.  The discipline, the enforcement of rules, the creation of those rules, the commanding respect, you name it…it is hard!

Now I am not whining about this responsibility that God has bestowed upon us, but wouldn’t it be nice if each child was born with an instructional DVD, book, CD, SOMETHING!!

My Mamá Lola always says that Children are like the fingers on your hand, each one is different, but you love each one.

In my Mamá Lola’s time, discipline was a Community effort.  Everyone was your parent!  What do I mean by this?  If you were a child, a teen, a tween, a young adult, you name it, every person was obligated to assist in your rearing.  If you said a curse word, any grown-up would likely smack you or in the very least chastise you for your language, and it was OK with the parents.

If you were rude, obnoxious, disrespectful, it got back to your parents either because someone disciplined you and they went and told your parents that they did; or because someone else saw you getting disciplined and they went and told your parents about it.  No matter how they found out, your parents were A-OKAY, they welcomed others’ assistance in your discipline.

Nowadays, you are weary to even tell a child, whether on the playground, outside, in a restaurant, “Sweetie, it’s not nice to hit.”

Or, “Honey, would you please let her/him have a turn?”

Or if they’re older, “Would you please not use that kind of language?”

And this is to your OWN kids…J/K!  😉  But seriously, you don’t want to reprimand someone else’s kids in any way for fear of them, the children AND/or the parents, lashing out at you in some way!  We kind of just look in the parent’s direction and telePATHETICALLY hope that they will say something.

I remember growing up, my Dad was HARSH, to put it quite mildly.

Here is a tiny glimpse into my childhood…

We, Mami, Dad, Sisters and I, were in Tijuana in a Mercado, and there was a booth with vaquero accessories, belts, boots, sombrero’s, spurs, horsewhips…yes, horsewhips.

Well, my Dad asked us to pick one.

I became overjoyed! I rushed to look at them along with my sisters and saw a really pretty tan and white Braided one, a really shiny black one, there were so many!  I quickly and quite excitedly pointed one out to my Dad.  He bought it! I remember thinking, “We’re getting a HORSE! There is NO Doubt!”

I could not have been more wrong.

When we arrived back to the Valley, my Dad hammered a nail by the entry way door and hung it there.  Again, I thought, “We are definitely getting a horse, and this is the reminder for him.”

Well, I am sure you may have guessed by now, we did not get a horse.  We were never going to get a horse.  My tender bottom later found out who the horse whip was for.

And that was discipline.  Granted, my Dad was a tad extreme, but back then you spanked your kids once and they usually didn’t do it again.  I know I didn’t!  For the most part 😉

Parents used the age-old adage, “You’ll thank me one day.”

“This is going to hurt me more than it’s going to hurt you.”

And my personal favorite, “As long as you live under my roof you will follow my rules.”  Point being that Parents were still pretty much in control.

Here is what I think happened.  My Mom didn’t want to be as Strict as her Mom and she let up on us.  And our generation doesn’t want to be as Strict as our Parents, and we ease up.  We grew up hearing about building a child’s self-esteem.  Let a child make decisions.  Give a child the opportunity to be his/her own person.  And personally, I wanted my kids to be able to voice their opinions. Heck, I wanted my kids to be able to SPEAK when I spoke to them!

I recall being reprimanded (yes, being yelled at) and told to look at my Dad when he spoke to me.  And when I did…He would get angry because he didn’t want me to look at him that way!  So again, I would put my head down and we’d start over.  Now, if I dared open my mouth, Dear Lord!  I’d get a good smack for being disrespectful.

I didn’t want that for my own kids.  I wanted to be the Cool Parent.  We all remember those, right?  One or more of our friends had the “Cool Parents.”  They were allowed to do things we weren’t.  They had more stuff than we did.  Their parents bought them stuff that we didn’t get.  Their parents LOVED them.  That’s what I used to think anyway.  Now I see that many times those parents bought their kids a lot because they were never home, or were too busy in their own lives to even be a parent.

Here’s another memory – I know, probably too many by now, but I’m on a roll, so – when my Dad used to work nights, he would still get up at around 7am and make my sisters and I scrambled eggs and bacon with avocado, pitas or burritos.  He would wrap them in foil and drive us off to school.  Not before doing 3 girls’ hair!  It was the worst ponytail imaginable, but he did it every morning for all 3 of us!  He would drop us off in front of the school and my sisters and I would head over to the lunch benches to eat our burritos.  I recall being so embarrassed sometimes because none of the other kids had a homemade breakfast, if they had breakfast at all!

Funny how memories such as those are so different now.  Back then I hated being different from everyone else.  I felt like my Dad didn’t love us, because he singled us out.  Now…well, I know better…He Sacrificed!  He Loved us Beyond our ability to comprehend.  He did the Best that he could…

We can be such ingrates…I can…I could…I am…

I know I have digressed.  And yet not so much.  Our upbringing makes us what we are, to a certain extent.

You would tell yourself at those times when things weren’t so great, “I will NEVER do this to my kids!”  I guess you just say it so much that you just stick with it.

Although, there are those times that we sound exactly like our parents.  We then whip around expecting to see them there, only to find that it really was us! When we catch ourselves, we sometimes beat ourselves up for it.

Point being, we don’t want to raise our kids as we were.   We don’t want them to WANT for anything.  We don’t want them to suffer as we did.

I want my kids to be strong enough to say NO!  I want my kids to be able to voice their disagreement.  I want my kids to have an opinion.

And there it is!  I wanted my kids to have all this.  I guess I just didn’t specify that I wanted them to have that at the right time, not against me and not while I’m trying to steer them down the right path.

My 17 yr. old voices her opinion alright.  A bit too much.  My kids can be disrespectful.  I have no one to blame but myself.  I opened that door to self-expression.  And it isn’t the self-expression that is the problem, it is the not knowing how to teach them to utilize it, apply it correctly.  I messed up.

Now, now I don’t care for it too much.  Not when they are being rude and/or disrespectful either to me and/or others.

At first, I thought I was being so progressive.  Being a “modern” parent.  Allowing for opinions and letting them make their own decisions, because I did not want to influence them.  I wanted them to be their own person.

It definitely doesn’t help that growing up I wanted a Dad like Dr. Cliff Huxtable.  I was taking notes.  Then there was Dr. Jason Seaver and Maggie Malone, and finally my other favorite parents, that I can recall at this moment, Elyse and Steven Keaton.

These were all GREAT parents.  I would watch them on TV and want to be like them.  I wanted my parents to be like that, I wanted to be a parent like that!  No one ever truly explained that it was all acting.  That on TV everything works out for the best in the end, because, well, that’s the point of a Sitcom!  You have 20 odd minutes to create and resolve huge family conflicts with everyone living happily ever after.

When I look around, I see that I am not the only one that suffered this travesty.  I honestly feel that many of us went from one extreme to the other.  The result…well, look around.  There has to be a Happy Middle.  We need to find it, quick.  No more metal detectors at school entrances, no more see-through backpacks, no more teachers being afraid of their students, no more kids mouthing off to any person just because they can.

We need this, KIDS need this.  You think it doesn’t frighten them to have this much power = responsibility?  They are kids and we have stolen their carefree days with our lack of parenting.

A very wise Parishioner told me last night after the Novena to St. Joseph, our Patron Saint – and I would try to quote her, but I will butcher it, so I will just sort of throw it out there, and if she reads this, I do HOPE that for ALL of our  benefit, she will elaborate 🙂 – that it is like a Pendulum.  We were at one end and we need to push hard, very hard to break past that middle and get all the way to the other end and allow it to fall where it is supposed to be, then perhaps there will be hope…

In the meantime, keep pulling on our Ears, Father Mario…eventually something will sink in…

5 thoughts on “The Pendulum Swings

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  1. …yes, I’ll elaborate!

    picture it: you are fighting against the devil, he has pushed the pendulum and now you know it needs to go back… what do we do? We push back HARD – we need to get that momentum going because we feel he is dug in deep…

    What does he do? Politely step out of the way, and all our momentum flings us to the other side… and he gets to sit down and have a tea as he laughs at us, knowing we did it all ourselves.

    We knew that having our parents break the 5th to discipline us was the wrong approach, but very few of us ever tried to figure out what that ideal was. We just pushed past it, assuming that our teenage minds would be able to create the perfect ideal.

    If we set our sights on that ideal, we will get to the center! We just can’t think that the ideal is no authority – that’s only the opposite of the past.

    So what is the parenting ideal?


  2. Buena historia, lástima que hasta que estamos viejos lo reconocemos. Precisamente hoy en la mañana le estaba comentando a mi esposos Pedro de los “errores ” de mi hija, con su hija, y le comento, se enfadan pórque las corrijo pero si yo hubiera tenido a mi madre conmigo a lo mejor huibiera sido igual. Bueno solamente hacemos lo que creemos que está bien verdad ?


    1. Hindsight is 20/20…

      Que quiere decir que ver al pasado siempre vemos Claramente del ahora…

      Creo que todos no hacemos caso a nuestros Padres hasta DESPUES =o)
      Es un ciclo vicioso de la vida, creo…


  3. The Pendulum…

    Last Friday I was reminded that in the Catholic Tradition, we are told that when the Devil pushes us, we are to push back HARD. The person speaking was talking about St. Louis De Montfort and the hereasy’s he was fighting at the time in France and he used the word pendulum when explaining the theologically errors of the day.

    The devil has many tricks, and the one I know very well is why work when the sinner does it all for you? He gets many coffee breaks on my watch with this pendulum trick.

    For those of us raised by wooden spoons and belts (or horsewhips!), we instinctivly knew that in breaking the 5th our parents were doing something wrong. They had taken the discipline pendulum and pushed it far off center.

    With a very minor twisting of the truth, we pushed and instead of pushing against us, the devil politely stood out of the way and all our momentum took that pendulum over to the other side and we find ourselves on the side with no authority! Why work, when we do it for him?

    Our error was in what we pushed against: instead of keeping the idea of discipline and authority, we threw it out with the methods our parents used to maintain that authority & the tools they used to discipline.

    What we needed to push against was the punitive methods – while holding on to authority. Is that possible?

    YES! First example: God uses natural consequences to teach us. And there are many other tools, we just need to spend more time with our bible prayerfully asking to be shown those methods. They are there, the bible is FULL of parents and how they kept their kids in line.

    …bottom line, we need to be very prayerful when pushing against errors because it doesn’t take much to twist a truth and get us pushing hard… and then we’ll find ourselves on the other side of the pendulum with no one but ourselves to blame.

    The whole truth is often found in the middle of the pendulum, not the ends.


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