By Heather Miller

Since moving into a fairly close knit neighborhood that is full of families with young children, it has become more clear to me how differently each of us parent. Before living here I was in a sort of parenting bubble as my kids were really too young to have much of an independent social life, and I was so in the trenches of being a new mom that I didn’t do much socializing myself. Therefore, as far as I was concerned, we as families, regardless of the makeup of the family, all parented about the same.

Boy, was I wrong. Allow me to list some of the ways.

The Out of Sight, Out of Mind Parent

While these parents may be home, they really have no clue what their children are up to. As far as they are concerned, all is well in the hood. Their little angels are out there in the street, sharing up a storm and being super nice to all of the other neighborhood kids. Thing is, this is not at all what is happening. What is really happening is that their spawns are out in the streets causing chaos. They are running it, coming up with bad ideas for the other kids to follow without a second thought. Why are they doing this? Because they know, good and well, that there is no way that their mom is going bother to pop her head outside and check up on them. If they are in sight, then they are in mind, and that is not at all what this type of parents wants. I mean, they already clothe and feed these kids, now they are expected to watch them? No way.

The Absent Parent

The kids of these parents get themselves up in the morning, get themselves dressed, fed, and out the door. Usually these parents work a lot, or have a very full, adults only, social life and don’t seem to have time to pencil their kids in. These kids get off the bus to an empty house only to wander around the neighborhood, knocking on doors, until another parents says they can come in to play with their kids, which basically means, yes, you can come in and play and stay for dinner. They get fed at other people’s homes on the daily, and rarely, if ever, are allowed to have other kids inside of their own home. I mean, come on, if their parents do happen to be home, they want to be catching up on their sleep. They have an event later.

The Dwellers

As all of the other neighborhood kids are out riding bikes back and forth down the street the kids of the dwellers are sadly looking out of their bedroom windows at all of the fun. Sure, most would say that these kids are old enough to be out and about, joining in on the fun even if it is not convenient for their parents to be outside right then, but they are made to stay inside. They are only allowed to come out when they are under complete adult supervision, and by adult, I mean their own mother and/or father, as according to them there is not one other competent adult on this entire street. Lets put it this way, these kids are the palest kids by the end of the summer. Funny thing about the dwellers, when they do allow their children outside and join them, it is usually at night, when your kids are trying to sleep.

The Middle of the Road Parent

This is the category that I put myself in. I like to think that our household has a fairly good balance as far as neighborhood life. Most days, once homework is done, I let my tribe run the streets with limitations until dinner. After dinner, they are done. There is no more outside time allotted for the day. On weekends they are in and out of the house at their leisure, most of the time, and when I need them to come in, I expect them to do so without complaint. Homework is always first and friends are not allowed to stay for dinner every night. Family time is just as important as friend time, if not more so. While the kids would love to attend every cookout and bonfire that is had in the warm months, they are not allowed. We attend what we can ,and complaining is not tolerated when we miss something. Whiners don’t get s’mores.

All of this being said, it is not lost on me that I may be judged differently by my neighbors than I am judged by myself. That is the point of this list. It is super easy to look around and spot what you feel other people are doing wrong in regards to raising their family. However, to them, they are doing a great job and could very well feel that you are the one who needs a little tweaking. Moral of the story? Live and let live. Who cares if you don’t agree with the parenting style of all of those that you are around. Do you care if they don’t agree with yours? You shouldn’t We are all doing our best, and that is the best way to parent.


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