This week my son, Cole, will celebrate his fourth birthday and it is so hard for us to believe. In September, he will put on a little backpack and stand on our curb waiting to climb on a school bus bound for Pre-K. How does that happen so quickly? I clearly remember finding out I was pregnant with him and discussing with my husband how surreal it was that we were going to be parents!
He is our first-born and therefore, in essence, our guinea pig. Poor thing! My husband and I are both first in the birth order in our own families so we can relate to what that feels like but it won’t change the fact that it is Cole’s lot in life as well. It is impossible to avoid the trial and error process of learning what kind of parents we want to be, how we want to discipline, things that we consider important, etc.
Most parents are filled with excitement and anticipation when a child is born. You have high hopes, expectations and dreams for that little bundle as soon as they are placed in your arms. The next thoughts can be more frightening as you consider the “real world” that they will soon be thrust into. That is only natural as the balance of those considerations makes a good parent.
As my own children continue to grow, I have begun to swallow the fact that the days of tough choices, peer pressure and the like are not as far away as I would like them to be. Although I would love to keep them in my pocket to protect them from what is bound to come in one form or another, I know that is obviously not in their best interest. It is our responsibility, however, to make sure they understand our expectations on every issue, even the tough topics, every step of the way throughout their lives. Parents are the first and most important line of defense in the lives of our kids.
Cheryl Eckwahl wrote an article this month discussing adolescence and substance abuse. I was impressed with not only the enormity of this problem in our own county but also the fact that she emphasized how influential parents can be in curbing these behaviors. It is easy to put our head in the sand when touchy subjects, such as substance abuse, come up but we cannot afford to be naïve enough to believe it is harmless fun or that our kids just aren’t participating because no family is exempt from that possibility.
Cole is four this week but in a blink he will be sixteen. My husband and I are prepared to error on the side of caution, even if he doesn’t like it, in order to guide him in the direction we feel will be best for him. I would rather he feel challenged now and thank me for it in twenty years than have him be part of the one million 12-17 year olds in this country that are dependent on illicit drugs and alcohol. Read her article and remember that we can and will make a difference in the choices our children make if we choose to.