Dear Fellow Survivalist;
One of the biggest concerns of parenting is that something might happen to our children. I’ve raised three kids and the entire time they were growing up, I was keeping an eye on them, not only to make sure they didn’t do the wrong thing; but to ensure that nobody was doing the wrong thing to them. I was always directly involved in their lives, even when they were old enough that they wished I wasn’t so involved.
One of the most important things I discovered along the way, was that my kids needed to know that I was in their corner and had their back. No matter how much they acted like they didn’t want me involved, they also wanted to know that they could depend on me. This was especially true at those times when things weren’t going right.
One of the ways I did this was to give them permission to blame me for anything. Someone wants them to go to a party, where some shady things might be going on? All they had to do was saying “My dad won’t let me.” Someone else wanted them to stay out late? They could get out of it by saying, “I’ve got to call my dad first.” Something fishy going on? All they had to do was call and I’d pick them up, regardless of what time it was or what I was doing.
We also had code words to go with those calls. That allowed them to communicate their concerns to me, without letting others know what was going on. Whenever they slipped one of these code words into the conversation, I’d give the appropriate response, taking the burden of saying “No” off of them and putting it on me.
This may seem like a minor thing, but you’ve got to understand how much peer pressure can affect our kids. Young people growing up are subject to a huge amount of peer pressure, most of which is negative, trying to get them to do things they shouldn’t. Expecting them to have the moral strength of character to say “No” on their own is too much. They’re kids; they probably haven’t developed that yet; at least not in the face of peer pressure.
Having other kids make fun of your dad as being “overprotective and controlling” is a whole lot easier for our kids to deal with, than having their friends make fun of them for not doing something. Kids can always get out of the ridicule and humiliation by talking about how bad their parents are. Other kids automatically understand that and will accept it, even though they don’t like it. They probably deal with some of it themselves.
Another important thing I did with my kids was to establish our home as the hangout for them and their friends, rather than someplace else. While this disturbed my peace and quiet and often meant they left a mess that we had to clean up, it also meant that I could keep an eye on what was going on. Not that I was obtrusive about it; but nobody was going to be smoking, drinking or using pot in my home while I was there.
Using our home as a hangout also gave me the opportunity to get to know my kids’ friends. As parents, we tend to be much more discerning about the people our kids hang out with, than they are themselves. By getting to know my kids’ friends, I was able to give them insight into who those other kids were. I never told them that they couldn’t have someone as a friend; but there were times when they decided to break off the relationship themselves, because of what I was able to discern.
All too many kids today don’t have a good home life, with parents who are doing their jobs. I probably had 30 or 40 oof my kids’ classmates who “adopted” me as their “dad” through their high school and college years. They needed an adult that they could trust and who they could talk to, and I became that for them. So, not only was I able to help keep my own kids out of trouble; but by being there for them, I found that I was able to be there for their friends too. At times, the friends would call me from college, looking for advice. Some of the problems those young people needed help with were pretty serious.
Protecting our kids doesn’t just mean protecting them with a gun. We need to be ready for that too; but that’s not all. Quite often, the protection they need is from much more subtle attacks, especially from the other kids around them. Like keeping your powder dry and your survival gear close at hand, staying close to your kids, especially in their most difficult years, is great protection.