I was engaged in the most curious conversation on Facebook last night. A friend posted that he thought it was ridiculous that some people smoke weed right in front of their children, because for obvious reasons, that is really poor parenting.
You are not your child's friend. You are his or her mentor, disciplinarian and the foremost authority figure in his or her life. It is your responsibility to guide your child into leading a healthy lifestyle.
Some of the responses I found completely astonishing. I could tell that none of the people engaged in this conversation have children themselves. They are very naive.
Some arguments were as follows:
"If you want to toke, go in another room."
"Raise a child open minded.. and non-judgmental.... perhaps?"
"If you want to indulge in drugs; do it in private. Set a good example for your child."
"I don't care what a parent does on their own personal time, just as long as they don't get in trouble for it."
"If my child is going to smoke and do drugs or what ever life choice they want, that's fine, I'll support them all the way. However, I will not be the one who sets the example."
There is something incredibly backwards about each of these arguments, in my mind. I have been parenting for almost four years. I can tell those of you who do not yet have children that it is a 24/7, on-call job. There is not a moment of the day where your parenting responsibilities are suspended.
Being a good parent isn't about just showing your children a good example but living the example that you set. Otherwise, you are a hypocrite and a liar. Doing drugs in front of your children has nothing to do with teaching them to be open-minded people. It has to do with teaching them to be responsible and healthy people. Why would you support a child taking up a habit that endangers his or her life?
Keeping illegal substances in your household when you have children is just playing with fire. If someone finds out that you have drugs in your house and reports you, is the fun worth having your children removed from your care? Is it worth the shame and embarrassment that your children must then live with? Is it worth the possible jail time and consequences that follow?
When you are a parent, there is no such thing as privacy. There is no such thing as "personal time." Your children have needs, and they have them every minute of the day. You owe it to them to be a functional human being, and they deserve it. Doing something that alters your state of mind and impairs your judgement and ability to properly care for another person when your main responsibility in life is to care for another person is simply assanine.
I go out to the bars occasionally with my friends still. However, my behavior and the behavior of my girlfriends that have children has drastically changed from the way that we acted in our early 20s. Now, it's more about: Who is designated driver tonight? What time do we have to be up the next day? How late do we actually want to stay out? Is there going to be a spouse/significant other around in the morning?
For me, being someone who is solely responsible for my child, I normally take a 1-2 drinks or DD route. My son needs me.
A child sleeping over at a friend's house or spending the night with grandparents or an aunt or an uncle doesn't mean that you are off duty. Ask any parent who has had to leave the house in the middle of the night to pick up his or her child from a slumber party because he or she was too scared to spend the night. Ask any parent who has been awoken from a deep sleep because his or her child is throwing up and running a fever at 3 a.m.
There is no personal time.
What does exist is a new quality of life where you put your childish behavior behind you and embrace the joys of a new chapter. Embrace the pride that you feel when your child accomplishes something new or surprises you with random hugs and I-love-you's.
Being a parent changes your life drastically, but the trade-off from parties and beer bongs to coloring and going to the zoo doesn't make your life boring. It makes it fulfilling, and it makes you realize why life is worth living.