Parenting 101 in 2014
By Jim Bucher
As I sat here pondering the subject for my next column, an unfortunate incident happened – yet another argument with my eldest teenage daughter.
So, while my original idea was to write about the rare do-do bird and how its eggs offer healing properties, I’m doing an about-face and put in print what I know best – how to raise two kids, for the most part on my own.
I think back to 18 years ago when the nurse in the delivery room handed me my bouncing baby girl. She remarked how perfect and sweet she was, but to get back to her in 13 years when my little girl turns into a teenage hellion.
I laughed and thought, “not my child, no way.” But boy was she right about my girl.
To protect my two kids’ identities they will be known here as daughters No. 1 and 2.
Now, Daughter 1 just turned 18; Daughter 2 is 14. The stage is set; let us begin.
It seems to me everything was going along quite swimmingly until Daughter 1 began to walk; from that point there was no stopping her. But seriously, the terrible twos turned into a horrific decade – well, not really, but the years begin to blur and, trust me, there’s more good than bad. I just have a hard time remembering the good.
But as I look back when “we” (my wife and I) decided to get her an iTouch for Christmas on her 14th birthday, that’s when things changed. The whole world opened up, including the Internet, music and connecting with friends.
Then, as life progressed, school began to be a chore for her; attending on a regular basis was even worse. Oh, she’d walk into school, but right out the back door. Then she met someone who smoked cigarettes and, for the life of me, I’m amazed at 16 she was able to get smokes when the legal age is 18.
Guess it was the same way when we were kids, and my buddy – Friend 1 – would always have a can or two of Budweiser at the tender age of 15. Of course, I would never drink a beer under the age of 18. [Yes, it was 18 back then. 3.2 beer – remember that?]
Now we move on to junior and senior high. More skipping, two or three school changes, suspensions, curfew violations, in and out of juvenile court and on and on and on. It has been a bit of a challenge. Greater minds than mine have tried to reason with her, cajole, twist and just lay it on the line this is not the path to follow.
I failed to mention Daughter 1 was diagnosed with ADHD – Attention Deficit, Hyperactivity Disorder (wonder where she got that from?) – which made it even more complicated.
When the family doc says “put her on these” (“these” meaning narcotics), as a parent you question the doctor and yourself. “These” did help her focus, do her homework to a degree and she started functioning normally. The problem is “these” are, for a lack of a better term, “speed,” which winds her up, and sometimes too tight.
Let’s skip forward to the present. Daughter 1 is almost to the finish line; there’s light at the end of a very long tunnel. The graduation diploma is within reach thanks to this awesome alternative school, because “regular” school was not her bag. (She did get that from me.) However, she’s still not driving – I can’t do that to my fellow drivers out there yet.
You see, the deal was, and still is, stay out of trouble, no nonsense, foolishness, muckraking or just plain stupidity. Not a week goes by the above takes place. When it stops, she starts to drive.
So the point of this column – yes, there is one – is this: you’re not alone out there in parent/kid land. Maybe this is a little cathartic for yours truly, and trust me, I’m no Dr. Phil and don’t have all the answers, but I’ve learned one valuable lesson, possibly the hard way. You can’t be your child’s friend; you must be their parent first and foremost. That means being tough when you need to, be complimentary, encouraging and always with love. Yes, you may hurt some feelings, but they’ll thank you later in life. At least that’s what I’m told.
As I wrap up here, you may be asking about my other daughter, – No. 2, the 14-year-old. It’s funny, but my brother and I were about four years apart, as my daughters are. He was the oldest, so when I’d see him upset my parents and push their buttons for confrontation, I’d go the other direction.
So far, Daughter 2 is the same way – she’s learned from her big sis’s mistakes.
Hey, am I a perfect parent? Not even close, and there’s no self-help, one-size-fits-all parenting book. You learn as you go and hope and pray that all turns out right. You have one shot, no do-overs. Godspeed to all you parents out there. Good luck, we’re all in this together.
For more than 25 years, “Buch” has been a local television icon. Known and loved by thousands in the Miami Valley, his followers describe him as trust-worthy, fun, the guy next door, a friend and a role model. When it comes to promoting your business, Buch has the ability to grab your customer’s attention. Reach DCP freelance writer Jim Bucher at JimBucher@DaytonCityPaper.com.