I don’t like to criticise other peoples parenting skills I really don’t. How they choose to parent, is their business. Who am I to judge? But when it comes to other peoples parenting affecting your children, what are you supposed to do? It can be so difficult.
This weekend, my son was invited to a pal’s house for a birthday sleepover and the thought of what he has been up to, just makes me cringe. But what can I do? Yes, it was a birthday so probably a complete one-off and yes, I am probably over-reacting (It has been known! Hehe!) But all the same, how do you handle other people’s parenting when it is so completely against what would be your own usual standards and boundaries?
To start with, it was just a casual verbal invite from his friend at school and being in High School now, you just don’t get to meet other parents like you do at Primary School. It’s a whole different world, and one that I am still struggling to get used to.
When I asked my son if there was an actual invite, he looked at me like I was mad. ‘No, it’s just a bunch of us going for a sleepover.’ Oh, okay, so I’m supposed to send you off to goodness knows where, with goodness knows who, until goodness knows when, just like that? So after a few texts back and forth between him and his friend, he conjured up a telephone number and address. I mean, I can’t be the only one who would want to speak to the parents of the child before letting my son sleepover? They are only twelve! Not even fully fledged teenagers yet. I mean, I’m not asking for a full CRB check here, I just want to know where my son will be for the weekend and have a contact number! So we did call his parents, and of course as expected, it was all fine and well so off he trotted for his sleepover.
We collected my son this morning and he looked as white as a sheet. Apparently, they stayed up all night long watching horror movies and playing horrific sounding X-box games and didn’t go to sleep until after breakfast. Oh, and they had a doner kebab for dinner – they were allowed to order whatever they wanted from the take-away *clutches chest*
Don’t get me wrong, it was a birthday treat, sleepovers aren’t renowned for their actual sleep element but there are treats and there are treats, right? If there was a complete opposite to what I let my son do – he found it all and more besides at his friend’s house! And he had a ball by all accounts!!
I just wouldn’t dream of letting my 12-year-old watch horror movies – I even censor pre-watershed soaps if I think there is a particularly hairy storyline coming up. I can’t be alone in this?
And yes, he does have a PlayStation and a Wii, but they are both downstairs and playing computer games is definitely a family thing – not a hidden away in their bedrooms for hours at a time thing. In fact, we don’t let the children have their own televisions in their rooms for that very reason – so we can see what they are playing – and how long they are playing for. And the games themselves – I wouldn’t dream of buying him a violent game – just the titles alone of the games that he’s been playing all night long sound horrific! But I can’t be the only parent to stick to the age guideline certificates can I?
As for the junk food – yes, it was a party and a complete one-off and it is not the end of the world. But what is it about parties that make some parents throw complete abandon to all thoughts of what we feed our children and ply them full of junk and e numbers? I mean, in all honesty, there is never a time that I would even think to let my children order a doner kebab from a take away! But now I am sounding like a complete snob..
I am the first to admit that I am terribly protective of all four of my children and I am guilty of cotton wool parenting. I know I am! And I guess that without meaning to sound judgemental, my son’s friend obviously has parents at a completely different end of the parenting spectrum. And do you know what, when it comes to how they look after their child – I couldn’t care less how they do it!
My issue is, how do you handle it when somebody elses parenting is enforced on your child by circumstances such as a sleepover?
I can’t stop him from going to sleepovers can I? But should I really just have to cringe and bear it?
I don’t know. I honestly don’t know.
I think because he is my eldest, we tend to encounter all sorts of ‘new’ problems with him and I guess it’s true that your inexperience as parents tends to make the eldest child the hardest done by. I don’t want to be the über strict parents and I certainly don’t want him to miss out on sleepovers and the like, but how can I let him go off and do all the things that I would never ever let him do at home in a million years?