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What Does It Mean to Be a Parent These Days?

There is a whole lot of parenting advice out there these days. Possibly more than ever before. And what have I learned from it all? Let me tell you that after spending a girls’ weekend with four of my college roommates in which, I am quite confident when I say, “we pretty much covered it all,” we pretty much covered it all.

With 12 kids, 4 husbands, 2 daughters-in-law, 2 sons-in-law, 3 grandchildren, 40 years of friendship, and 3 days at a lake house, I’m feeling pretty confident that my three college roommates and I discussed just about every subject under the proverbial sun, about raising kids. 

We live hundreds of miles apart and I must admit, during those crazy busy years when our kids were growing up, we rarely saw each other and communication was, sadly, minimal.

But one of the benefits of being an empty nester is reconnecting with old friends, which we now do on almost a regular basis. And while I came away from that weekend refreshed, rejuvenated, and filled with wonderful new memories, I also left with the confirmation that there truly is no one way on how to parent a child

In my work here at Your Teen I often see in the comments section, under articles on this very page, one parent replying to another (or to a thousand) “Be. A. Parent.”

Unfortunately, the parent to whom this “advice” is directed is often struggling with a particular issue or behavior and is seeking advice. 

I have often wondered what “Be A Parent” really means. Sometimes, I feel they are saying, “Do it my way. Parent the way I parent.” Is this an ego thing? Possibly. Do they not want to be alone in their parenting decisions? Maybe. Or could they (and here I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt) be attempting to give honest, supportive advice? (Hmm, that could be a stretch.)

After my girls’ weekend, it was clear that we each parented (and continue to parent) differently.

Our rules, curfews, philosophies and responses were not the same. Most times we went with what felt right for our kid and the situation at that time. Who knows if it was the “right” thing to do? And yes, we questioned some of those decisions and still, to be brutally honest, question them today.

But, you know what? Our kids are okay, we are okay. Perfect? Far from it. Bumps in the road along the way? Many and some bigger than others with a few still waiting up ahead. But so far, so good. Our kids are okay.

So rest assured moms and dads, there is no one way to Be. A. Parent. Our kids do not come wrapped in a neat little package with a nifty pamphlet of detailed instructions. Parenting is fluid. It changes constantly depending on the kid, the circumstances, and what we believe is best for that child at that moment.

So stay your course. Stay true to your values and your moral compass. Don’t let anyone say to you “Be a parent” because you know what? You are being a parent; you’re just doing it your way.

Mindy Gallagher is the Social Media Manager for Your Teen Magazine. She is the assistant coach for the girls’ lacrosse team for Solon High School in Ohio.

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