Jan Scruggs
Memorial founder

Jan Scruggs

Founder and president of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund.

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Good parents/popular parents

Q: Parents, a Wall Street Journal article says, have become cool. On TV, at least. After years of shows about youthful rebellion, teens are bonding with their fashionable and understanding parents. It might be so in real life, too. One study says 75 percent of teens get along with their parents. Is this necessarily a sign of a successful family? Or are some parents overplaying the "friend" card with their kids?

Hang with your kids at Starbucks and, the next thing you know, they might start liking you. This is fine, but the issue is how your kids will ultimately face the challenges of competing in a tough and unforgiving world.

Parenting is not a task for the weak of heart. Trying to be your kids' "buddy" will not help you instill values like the importance of academic success and moral behavior. Molding these youngsters into highly motivated achievers is up to each parent to navigate.

Generations ago, there was a considerable amount of emotional distance between the authority-figure parents and their kids. In my house, we kids would be trotted out when adults were visiting. We would call them "sir" and "ma'am" and speak only when spoken to by these towering giants known as adults. It is not like that today. I have noticed that my friends' kids call me by my first name, like we are pals or something. I, for one, like the familiarity and informality.

No matter how things have changed, one thing stays the same: teens will rebel. It is typical teenage behavior to turn on their parents, who are suddenly viewed as old fashioned, very un-hip and just not up-to-date.

As Mark Twain said, "When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years."

It isn't easy to be unpopular with your kids, but sometimes, to be a good parent, you have to be. As Mark Twain reminds us, this too shall pass.

By Jan Scruggs  |  May 10, 2010; 3:03 PM ET  | Category:  family and friends Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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Sure, we have several "cool parents" in my neighborhood-they are so cool in fact, that their kids in their mid 20's are still "finding their way". Just like in California! Oh Boy! Bottom line-what you expect is what you get. Life can be a bitch to those who want to be a success and have high standards. I don't want my adult sons interrupting my alone time with my sweetie of 30+ years . By the way, we get along with our 2 sons, they have opened their eyes to the fact that adult kids at home=passionless relationship for Mom and Dad! The truth hurts.

Posted by: rlmayville | May 12, 2010 10:07 PM
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Parents never become 'cool' in anyone's mind for real until an individual has a few years under their belt as a parent.

That's the way it is, and will always be. Parents of teenagers no matter how hard they try are not 'cool'.

Posted by: alaskansheilah | May 12, 2010 7:53 PM
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Totally agree. My 16 year old daughter and I are are close. And even some of her friends comment on it. However, that does not mean I'm her bff. She has one of those. And sometimes being a good parents means that they absolutely can't stand you. It goes with the job description.

Posted by: kentbarb | May 12, 2010 5:32 PM
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The positive difference I see in parenting styles now is the reluctance of parents to play the 'authority card'. When adults are capricious in their use of authority, when it appears random, or exercised to demonstrate power, dominance or insecurity, children see it and of course they rebel.

What I see in many of my friends and colleagues is a mutual respect for each person's role in the family, and their opinions, life experiences and challenges. When the mutual respect is there, just like in the workplace, the quality of the relationship follows and it's just easier to get things accomplished.

Posted by: LAGirl1 | May 12, 2010 3:12 PM
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The important thing to communicate to them is your expectations. Teenagers will try to meet their parents expectations if they are reasonable. My teenagers are my buddies and they achieve almost everything I expect of them. Can't ask for more.

Posted by: MHawke | May 12, 2010 10:03 AM
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