How to: Parenting
I’ve read a great many books on the mystery, the joy, the way of parenting. How to parent a child the right way is a constant struggle that we go through at our house. What I’ve come to learn in my studies is that it doesn’t matter what choices you make, what parenting style you adopt, or how you parent your child; it will be wrong according to someone. And above all else, your child will be messed up in some way. So what is a parent to do?
Fortunately, I’ve learned some things that have worked for our family, and I will share them with you now. These are tried and true parenting tips that we have implemented and that do NOT include phrases like “consequence cushion” and “hug huddle.”
NUMBER 1- First thing’s first: keep the kid alive. It’s the main thing that is required of you as you leave the hospital. You do this with love and booby milk (or formula, depending on your situation), and NASA style car seats. Most people like to keep their new baby clean, so baths and lotions are good for that. Do this for a year or so and you’ll be fine. Stop asking me about sleep, they get to have it whenever they want. But it’s not in the cards for you anymore. Just get used to it. Learn to be a good person on no sleep. This is probably the biggest challenge. I don’t know about you, but when I have no sleep and I get a bunch of whining in my ear, I get cranky. And that’s just my wife! *rimshot*
NUMBER 2 – Listen to what your child needs, not what they say. “You never play with me and you hate me the most!” This seems pretty harsh. My son has shared these words with me. My initial thought is to call him a liar, point out the facts, and then give him a nasty consequence. But if I listen to what’s behind the words, he’s pretty much saying that in that moment he feels like I’m rejecting him and that if I reject him then I must hate him because he’s not worth playing with. It’s a total load of bulls*&^&, but that is how the little man feels, so how to parent this situation would be to respect his feelings and address them, not his words. I normally handle this situation by calling him a liar, pointing out the facts, and then I pretend my feelings are really hurt. I do this by curling up into a fetal ball and crying like I’m trying out for The Actor’s Studio. If a guilt inducing performance doesn’t work, then I would just be firm about what is and is not allowed as far what the kid can say to the parent. My kids aren’t allowed to say they hate me. They can go on and on about how unfair I am, or how frustrated I make them. Skies the limit with that crap. Just no hating.
NUMBER 3 – Understand that a child’s brain is small and doesn’t comprehend in the way that we adults comprehend. This is why children pee on electric fences and why we parents smack our foreheads and ask the heavens why our child was cursed with stupidity of epic proportions. It helps to roll our eyes for a majority of these “achievements.” Get used to saying things like “What were you thinking?!” And then get used to answers that resemble “I wasn’t.” For some odd reason the Maker of People thought it was a good idea to keep the smart decision making part of the brain absent until the late twenties. Or forever, if you are a male.
NUMBER 4 – Children are curious. Nurture that. Sometimes this means going with the flow and digging out scraps of wood because your 5 year old wants to build a boat. Just know that the formula goes: Curiosity x Supplies = God Awful Mess. It is such a glorious thing, the curiosity of a child. Check out this video of Alistair, and his powerful and loud interest in what makes the world “tick.” I’m not sure where he heard these words, but wifey and I are both pointing a finger at each other.
And it will remind you why you love being a parent.
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