Town Crier: Parental protection lasts only so long
by Yolande Barial
Jul 06, 2012 | 3895 views | 1 1 comments | 28 28 recommendations | email to a friend | print
When my children were babies, I could give them any kind of medicine, and they would take it. Whether they kept it in their mouths depended on whether they did or did not like the flavor of the liquid healer. If they didn’t like it, it would immediately come oozing back out of their mouths, and their faces would be disfigured in disgust. Crying would ensue.

If they liked it, it was never to be seen again — mission accomplished.

When my children were small, I would take them to the doctor for their scheduled shots, vaccinations that would immunize them against the microorganisms that cause disease. Still, a shot is painful — it hurts!

When they are young, we can enclose them in a playpen for their protection, we install baby gates near stairs, put safety locks on cabinets and drawers, and put door latches high on door jams to prevent them from walking out of the house.

We do all of these things when they are small, because they are unable to know what is best. Their little bodies and minds are under our control. We are their protectors, and decide when they get up, where they go, what time they eat, what time they go to sleep and who they play with.

This kind of control is empowering in a parental kind of way and makes the growing up a blessing in disguise. The disguise is that even though their bodies are growing at a phenomenal pace from one day to the next, their minds do not keep pace. The powerful pull of peer pressure dominates, and before we know it, they can slip out of their playpen and leave the house and get themselves into a world of trouble.

As summer kids, they get up when they feel like it, which is often right around the time you are coming home from the office. They eat cereal for lunch, they are allergic to the washing machine, they have no idea how to put on a new roll of toilet tissue, the dishes in the dishwasher are dirty because they kinda-like forgot to turn it on. Then these geniuses want a few dollars to go to the mall to “hang out”!

As they grow older, we no longer feed them medicine. We allow entrance and exit. We remain their protectors, and if we have crafted a relationship that allows for back and forth communication, we are also their confidante in a parental way.

As parents, we would like to be the ones they come to when they find themselves in some kind of pickle. The reality is that they just might not.

My son recently had a 17-year-old decision to make, which he did with benefit of conversations with me and his coaches. But at the end of the day, his decision was final.

Keep your spoons ready.

• Yolande Barial is a Tracy resident and mom. She is among a select group of local residents with columns in the Tracy Press.

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July 11, 2012
This is great advise to parents and I'm sure that many of us can relate. Well said.

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