Just Be A Great Parent & Raise Amazing Kids

A woman named Jennifer wrote a post about parenting. Over 6K people have liked it and another 13K have shared it. I hate it. (It’s included at the end)

I blame Facebook for even knowing about Jennifer’s post. See, I don’t know Jennifer. We’re not Facebook friends and I’d never have known about her post if FB hadn’t started including everything my FB friends like in my newsfeed. So when one of my friends liked Jennifer’s post, it suddenly became part of my day. And I don’t want to unfollow my friend cause I like what she posts. It’s one of the many reasons FB has really started to suck.

Anyway…Jennifer wrote a post about parenting. She realized she had no idea what was going on in her kid’s lives. And there isn’t much I care more about than my kids, so I read her post. And I empathize with Jennifer discovering she’d dropped the ball in parenting…it’s a common feeling. She seems really proud of herself for sharing and I respect that she was vulnerable and took a risk.

It’s her ‘take away’ from her experience that I hate. After realizing that in her absence her kids hadn’t raised themselves to be model citizens, she proceeds to give some advice to other parents. Her insights,

  • Too many teenage girls are entitled bitches
  • Too many teenage boys are the mouthiest, stupidest creatures on earth
  • Our children have us over a barrel due to political correctness
  • Take their phones, go through them. Go through texts, learn what KIK, askfm, snapchat, facebook are. Stop ignoring how they are growing up while you are living your life.

OR…maybe take the time to hang out with your kids and build a relationship on love, humility and honesty. Being selfish and self-centered is hardly a ‘youth’ issue, and political correctness has nothing to do with Jennifer’s parenting situation. She admits she didn’t know what was going on because she was busy living her life. Which is really another way of saying, Jennifer, like her kids, (and the rest of us) struggles with being selfish and self-centered. To me, that admission would be a great opening to a potentially awesome conversation with her kids. With anyone for that matter!

But her take away from discovering her kids mock her and think they’re better than her, is to mock them and call them names like bitchy, mouthy and stupid and to think she’s better than them. ‘Hi pot, this is the kettle…you’re black.’

I wrote Four Homeless Millionaires cause I love telling stories and making people laugh. But under the surface of all the hilarity, I hoped to inspire people, especially parents with young kids, that living like everyone else isn’t necessary.

My wife and I are both artists and love being creative and spontaneous and filling our lives with adventure. I remember people telling us, ‘oh just wait until you have kids’ like that would be the end of all that! But when we had kids the world didn’t end, and we kept living like we’d been living. Only now we had a couple awesome little dudes who loved being creative with us.

‘Oh just wait until you hit the Terrible Twos’ they said. But when we got there, the twos weren’t terrible at all. ‘Oh just wait until your kids turn into surly, bitchy teens’ say people like Jennifer. Only that hasn’t happened either.

Our kids are some of our best friends in this world, and we love hanging out with each other, and Jennifer’s post made me stop and really think about how our family got where we are, and why our experience has been so different from hers. I thought about how our family starts every day together; even if it’s just 5–10 minutes over toast and cereal…it’s just that moment of connection before we all step out the door into the world full of pressures and demands and temptations. Knowing that we come from a place of strength and support no matter where we go or what the day throws at us, and that a safe place waits for us at the end of every day. We sit down and eat supper together every night, which is when we all find out about each others day.

I’d never take my kids phone away as a way to find out what’s going on in their life. If I want to know what they’re watching I go hang out with them. Maybe we watch fail videos or PewDiePie, Rooster Teeth or Adventure Time. We text each other jokes and memes and music…these are all ways that I discover my kids sense of humor, their interests and ideas and perspective on life. We do dishes together every night after supper and laugh and joke or debate and discuss anything and every thing. We spend time together.

One of the things that excited us the most when we traveled around the world, was discovering that it wasn’t just our family. We met and made so many friends all over the world who have awesome relationships with their kids. From Fort St John and Kelowna to Australia, Sweden and Cornwall. Without exception, all of the parent’s had made a huge investment in time and energy so they’d have a great relationship with their amazing kids. You don’t have to sacrifice your relationship with your kids for your career. You choose to do that.

So while Jennifer is right…kids won’t raise themselves on their own while you’re off living your life…why in the world aren’t they the biggest part of the life you’re living?

Here’s the original post.

I took my child’s phone away last week, but have kept it on for my own educational purposes. I have been through it with a fine tooth comb with shocking revelations that I have absolutely no clue what my kid is up to in their life despite thinking I knew a lot… I did not. After four days of being subjected to a child’s social media, I have learned:

1. Kids have far more access to drugs and alcohol than anyone even dreams of and they use them freely, snapchat each other while they get high, text each other proudly like they are some sort of hero, and mock us parents that think we know better. We, as parents, don’t know. Trust me.
2. I am tired of watching 13–15 year old kids gets drunk or high and think they are the coolest shit on earth.
3. Too many teenage girls are entitled bitches that think they are 18 and taking over the world. Too many teenage boys are the mouthiest, stupidest creatures on earth.
4. Nineteen year old boys think it’s cool to hang out with fourteen year old girls. It’s an awesome game, and the one with the highest score wins. High Fucking Five…
5. Our system is broken, our policing system is broken, our discipline system is broken, and our children have us over a barrel due to political correctness.
6. We, as parents, have become accustomed to a new wave of teenagers acting older than they are. Stop it. 14 is not 18.
7. As a parent, I knew nothing until I knew everything. Get to know everything. Take their phones, go through them. Go through social media, go through texts, learn what KIK, askfm, snapchat, facebook are. Stop ignoring how they are growing up while you are living your life.
8. I have never been more devastated than I have been having to learn this and share it. Many of my friends are in the same position now as I have information shared over the past few days. They thought they knew too. They were wrong. Don’t be wrong. Be informed. It could save your child’s life.

Rik Leaf is a world traveler, slam poet, songwriter, storyteller and author of Four Homeless Millionaires — How One Family Found Riches By Leaving Everything Behind.