When will you let her get her ears pierced? Will you allow her to dye her hair? Does he have to wait until 18 to get a tattoo? How do you punish him if he gets a speeding ticket? In other words, how do you plan on parenting your child? The smallest issue, like ear piercing, can represent a greater picture of the kind of parent you plan to be. Whether or not you let all of it fall by the wayside as soon as your kid hits five months old, you’re already planning your tactics on maneuvering some of the many obstacles you’ll eventually have to climb.
How your parents handled such situations will also mold your decisions. Maybe they let you run wild as a teenager, and you feel you would have benefited from more structure, or maybe they kept you in a cage until your twenty-fifth birthday, and you wonder if that was such a great idea.
My parents trusted me as a teenager, for the most part, and I followed their unofficial rules, for the most part. Granted, I had an evening or two of pretending to be Jane Shmo’s mother and calling my friend’s mother, so my friend could stay out all night, but I’m still alive, so it’s all water under the bridge, right? But will the same parenting work for my child? Whenever I see a preteen girl wearing jean shorts the size of diapers, I judgingly think, “how could her parents let her leave the house like that?” But who knows? Maybe that girl will grow up to be a self confident CEO of some women’s empowerment firm that helps fund organizations that counsel young girls who dress like tramps. What do I know?
I know that I want my daughter to grow up feeling like she doesn’t have to expose her body in order to be significant. I want her to get a tattoo after the age of 18 because I want it to be something she chooses to do on her own, and doesn’t need permission from me. I want her to get a car as soon as she, or I, can afford it, because practice makes perfect. I want her to have only real juice, and none of this Capri Sun stuff, because I want her to respect her body and what goes in it. I want her to go on dates (ah hem – supervised, or in a well lit movie theater) because I want her to gain experience on handling herself with the opposite sex. And I want her to get her ears pierced because she’s ready, and not because Joe Shmo told her she should.
But again, what do I know? I’ll probably throw all this stuff out the window the second she asks for Oreos, instead of fat free Jello, because hey, Oreos are awesome.