Dear Dr. Laura,
I am a mom to four children from 7 to 16 years old and we all listen to your show during my afternoon "drive time." I have three different school pickups and then we turn around and head off to doctor's appointments, chorus rehearsal, youth group, sports and the teenager's job. I spend a lot of time in the car! Your wisdom has guided so many of my decisions and now it is seeping into my children's brains while they ride home!
I want to take issue from an attitude I hear from friends and some of the callers on your show. Why do people feel that parenting is a thankless job? I get an awful lot of thanks and praise from my children. My teenage daughter tells me multiple times a week that she is grateful for the big and small things I do for her and that she is so glad that her dad and I are HER parents. She says that she is one of the few kids she knows who can tell her mom anything and everything. Sometimes she wishes she could keep things private, but she usually ends up telling me what is going on, whether it is something that has upset her or excited her. Is she a freak of nature: a grateful teen? While I do think she's special, I think the reason she's grateful is because she knows how important she is to both her parents.
A few days ago I was driving my kindergarten son home from school and listening to the tales from the playground and the great tragedy of the lunchbox that got knocked over by the wind. He asked me, "Mommy, what do kids do at "childcare?" He has been frustrated that so many kids he wants to play with go to childcare after school. I told him that at childcare they have snacks and playtime and watch movies (trying to be as neutral as I could be). Quietly he said, "So they stay at school until nighttime?" I said yes and then very slowly he said, "That's why you don't work, right? Cause I really like playing Legos in my own room and getting to be with my own mom again!" I said yes, that I don't work because I want to take care of my children myself, instead of paying someone else. What happened next astounded me. In the silence of the minivan I heard one small boy clapping. If he wasn't buckled in I might have gotten a standing ovation. Who says you don't get thanked?
So why am I getting praise? Am I a perfect mom? Hardly! But I think if you want to get thanked for parenting, you actually have to show up and do the job - each and every day, instead of paying someone else most of the time.
What made my son's praise especially poignant was that when we first met, he was almost four years old. He has overcome an early life in an orphanage, learning English and lots of speech therapy (he has cleft lip and palate.) His determination to love and be loved makes my son my hero. It was amazing to get praise from my hero.
Thank you Dr. Laura for helping me do the right thing!
G., a Grateful Mommy!