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Single Mom Slice Of Life: Are You A Cheating Parent?

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During my time here at Goodenoughmother.com,  I’ve shared a ton about my family including my sanity (what little of it there is left), my dating life (or lack thereof), my hopes and fears (a.k.a. dreams and hang-ups) and (of course) my kids.  We’ve discussed and debated about what kind of parent I am from spot checking on texts and emails to going to school with my 16-year-old, the death of Santa, and the fact that in some ways (who are we kidding – in many ways) my kids are more mature than I am.

Through it all though one of the things I’ve never really given any thought to is… what kind core values I am instilling in my children and am I really doing the world any favors?  Spoiler alert, the answer is ultimately yes, but it was an interesting road to that conclusion.

As I sat in the library I overheard the following sage advice from a father to his daughter: “Who says you have to read the whole book?  It’s the story of their life.  Just take parts everyone already knows about and write your paper. The teacher will never know you didn’t read the whole thing.”

WHAT??

Now, if you see something on a TV family, chances are (possible, not probable) it could happen in real life too (thank you, Bill Cosby). But to see something so eerily similar happen, as in t his case, the other way around, I have to think, Holy cow – have I really been too hard on my kids all this time? That’s not to say I haven’t lent a helping hand on a few science projects (3rd place – really? That was at least a second place Styrofoam solar system!). And yes, I will admit, one time I let 99.5 degrees count as a real fever so that we could stay home from work just to find out if Juanita’s baby was the doctor’s or the ranch hand’s (Sadly, the thing about Telenovelas is that they’re in Spanish, and I’m not fluent, but if I had to guess, congrats to Raul the ranch hand!).

But let’s get real for a second. I know for a fact that I am raising my kids properly and that in a black and white world of right or wrong, reading the whole book is the right thing to do, no matter the size. What bothers me is, how many other parents are like me, and how many more  are like “Cheat-it” dad?

I have been known to get too engrossed in the small details and forget the big picture. My concern then becomes have I been so worried about teaching my kids how to do something the right way that I forgot to teach them about the people who cheat the system? I myself have a very low patience for people who can’t follow rules, and only about 89.37% of that is OCD related. If someone says they don’t like the cloud for an email system, don’t find a way to sell them on the exact same system but without using the term ‘cloud’. Wrong is wrong, right? I was under the impression that part of our jobs as parents is to make the world a better place, to try and prepare our children to be better than average.

I work in an industry, family law,  where I see all sorts of jaw-dropping things. I’ve seen people give up their world for the right reasons, but I’ve seen also seen parents who refuse to follow a court order, not a week after it was signed by a judge, just because they won and the win was all they wanted. Not the kids, the win. I wish I could tell you how many times my office has heard the phrase, “I just don’t want him/her to win.”

I’m all for being good enough. I am one person,  one woman trying to raise two men; I have no other option than to be good enough. But to me good enough is suffering through the book even if it is too big. Being good enough means putting a kid on punishment for not turning in a homework assignment I myself could never finish (math should NOT have letters in it!). I have a pouting kid right this very second sitting on the opposite side of the room because he is grounded from anything electronic, telephonic, or remotely fun until his grades come back up, plus a week.  Anyone else feel another trip to 10th grade about to happen?

One my favorite sayings to the boys is, “Life isn’t as hard as you’re making it.” Yet, here I sit, completely dumbfounded by the fact that, in raising my kids the right way, I may have made life a bit harder for them. They will have to learn to suffer through life, walking on the sidewalk and not cutting through the grass and they have to accept that they don’t get the character counts awards because believe it or not, talking in class really is worth an infraction, even if the kid you were talking to didn’t get caught.

You know what?  In the grand scheme of things, I’m actually okay with that.

What about you? Have you ever run across cheating parents? How did it make you feel? And tell the truth, have you ever BEEN a cheating parent? What were the circumstances and how did you feel afterward?

More from Wendy:

Getting Comfortable With Change

All Alone And I LIKE It

Who’s Standing In Your Corner

Wendy Syler Woodward, 37, has been a single parent for 10 years, with two boys ages 11 and 16.   Originally from southern California, Wendy moved her family seven years ago to Phoenix where she manages a law firm for work, writes for fun, and is preparing to go back to college before the end of the year. Follow her on Twitter at @WendySyler

3 Comments

  1. Diana

    February 21, 2012 at 8:12 am

    I love this. So well written. My kids are only 2 and 7, so the only ‘cheating’ I think we’ve done is something like ice cream for breakfast once in blue moon. I don’t think I’d tell my kids to only read half a book, ever. Find something you enjoy about the reading and take pride in your work is probably what I’d say. I’m with you on trying to have my little people turn out to be better than average . Or at least better than people who do half a job just to get by.

  2. m.e. johnson

    February 21, 2012 at 1:02 pm

    You are a GEM, not worrying about being perfect. Good. When we have to remind them at age 13 to brush teeth or wash hands before dinner, don’t we wonder if they are deaf or if at age 26 their teeth will be rotten? While teaching them we need to remember that they are learning from others too. Do we teach them to break into houses or to snatch purses? My my, how could they possibly be doing something (good or bad) that we didn’t teach them? We hear moms on tv all the time, even after dude has confessed: “I know my son, he didn’t do it.”Mm-hmmm.

    Re that dad, his daughter knows it’s wrong, she may do as he suggested… this time but she will make her own decision. Story time: When we had to read “Tale of Two Cities”, a group of us decided each would read a chapter and tell the others about it (Moms hadn’t taught us that). Somehow we all managed a decent book report even tho we really didn’t understand what the book was about, or care. Years later I read the book, enjoyed it immensely and have referred to it in political discussions. So GEM, do what you can and trust that your children have a brain also.

  3. Kathy H

    February 22, 2012 at 1:00 am

    Most parents would be doing well if they were 1/10th as conscientious a parent as you are!

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Combing the aisles at Target in search of the best deal on Cheerios, it hit Rene Syler like the stench of a dirty diaper on a hot summer’s day. Not only is perfection overrated its utterly impossible! Suddenly empowered, she figuratively donned her cape, scooped up another taco kit for dinner and Good Enough Mother was born.

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