What’s that over there? Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No! It’s “Super Parent!” Faster at assuming a caring, involved persona than an Academy Award-winning actor! More powerful at convincing people outside of the situation that they have a great relationship with the kids and know what’s going on than a Starbucks triple espresso! Able to tell tall tales in the blink of an eye!
Have you met “Super Parent?” I have! This is the mom or dad who, behind the scenes, is only as involved as they absolutely have to. The bare minimum of parenting responsibilities get done. You and I know that kids in their care have hit-or-miss attention, help with homework and other needs, and questionable care in general. The more consistent and responsible parent often picks up the pieces and holds everything together for the child’s other adult caregiver.
It’s not a phone booth, an illuminated call for help in the sky, or a damsel in distress tied to the railroad tracks that prompts “Barely Adequate Parent” to transform into “Super Parent.” Nope, it’s usually a parent-teacher conference, social media, a public event (e.g. a school play, soccer game, a large social event) that magically brings this charismatic, nurturing, and seemingly superior alter ego to light!
The typical M.O. of this character is to push off responsibility on others, complain about the way everyone else does things, and to usually have a less-than-solid idea of what’s going on (below the surface) in their child’s life. Then, Wham-o! Bam! Kazow! The spotlight shifts to them and they suddenly become the most upstanding, accountable, admirable, and loving parent ever known to the human race!
Surely, more villain than champion, it takes a genuine and skilled hero, such as a seasoned teacher, coach, case worker, or counselor to see through the fog and special effects emitted by “Super Parent.” Many amateurs who have faced off against “Super Parent” have fallen under the spell of what he or she says so convincingly- especially when the other parent is so quickly thrown under a speeding bus or other weapons (e.g. showing some cleavage, shedding a tear, or bringing a plate of brownies) are deployed to keep everyone’s focus off of the truth.
One has to wonder if “Super Parent” really believes the rest of us to be so blind that we can’t tell when a child is really being raised by “Barely Adequate Parent?” How long can “Super Parent” distract us or juggle the lies and perfect parent act?
Some do fall permanently under the spell, believing what they see and hear on the surface. Inevitably, a few wise ones see through the sham and call “Super Parent” out when things don’t add up. When this happens, “Super Parent” is likely to take his or her ball and go home, moving on to greener pastures where their reputation is unknown, and calling to question the integrity, knowledge, and motivations of anyone who would challenge their powers.
Some “Super Parents” are exceptionally gifted at pulling the blindfold over everyone’s eyes. More often than not, inconsistencies in their story, clues their kids give off the other 364 days of the year, and the natural aversion to B.S. that most people possess serve to reveal their secret identity!
“Super Parent,” let me just tell you that the rest of us are tired of your game! Take off your mask and your fake cape, and get real! Instead of expending so much effort in trying to make the world think you’re all that, why don’t you try actually putting in the time and work with your children? Your kids deserve a parent who truly is down in the trenches doing the dirty work of parenting, not just one who pretends as such.
Why do you play this game and put on this act? Are you secretly threatened by your child’s other parent? Do you feel insecure about your abilities? Or, is your priority not really your kids on a 24/7 basis, and you just can’t admit to this fact?
“Super Parent,” just so you know, no parent is perfect! Even those of us who are in neck deep with our kids every single day get burnt out, screw up, and need to get a break. Parenting, especially if you’re a co-parenting or single parent, is really hard! How can you not feel that other parents, teachers, and anyone else around your child isn’t sizing up you and your kids to assess how good of a job you’re doing? The pressure of not damaging your kids is immense, made all the worse if you feel unsure of what you’re doing, have limited support, and perhaps didn’t have the most solid role models to base your parenting off of.
You will always get more sympathy, respect, and support by being authentic. Even the best parents stay up all night with worry, lose their cool sometimes, and fantasize about nice long vacations without kids. If you’ve slipped up, are uncertain, or are frustrated, just say so! The perpetual fake “I’m so awesome” act is what’s going to get you busted.
If you can admit to being clueless (hey, it’s the first step to breaking out of the “barely adequate” mold), then do yourself a solid and check out some parenting books at the library, hang out for coffee with other parents, or fill yourself with some knowledge from the vast collection of parenting wisdom on the internet! The one way that you can best get to know your kids is to actually spend time with them having fun with them, helping them, and guiding them through their childhood.
You could do worse than being a “Super Parent.” Just know, that you were given a priceless gift in your children, and all the staged photos on your social media or pantomiming of how connected you are in the world isn’t going to fool everyone all the time, least of all your kids!