Sunday, August 19, 2012

Parenting by Papa

I love to hate parenting tips that the internet provides. I think it's because any crazy person can post their opinions online and simply because it's out there, it's supposed to have some merit. :) Also, I'd bet many of these so called parental experts don't have kids anyway. They probably learned from the tube watching Al Bundy in Married with Children.

With that said, I have a few pieces of advice that may run contrary to mainstream suggestions. My eldest daughter just turned ten so the majority of what I'll say applies to the rearing of kids under ten. Here goes.

Give them Band-Aids. Whenever they ask for them. Who cares if it's an owie that is full of blood or a invisible sort, that's not what matters. It's a panacea. Anything that goes wrong can and will be fixed by relenting. Just tonight, my three year-old begged for a Band-Aid for a rug burn and ten seconds after he put it on, he wanted it off. But in his mind it had done the trick. So, parents, don't ever fight it, just put on the Band-Aid.

Just put it on!

Next piece of life-changing advice. When potty training, don't read the blogs of your other parent friends and assume anything they do will be successful for you. I don't care if your kid was potty-trained at six months. One, I think you are lying, and two, I don't have the time to hold a toddler over the potty for three hours a day.

I remember spending hours in the bathroom with my first child trying to convince her that she wanted to "do a big dookie" when in reality she had no interest at all. I would use blank threats, say things I didn't mean, and cause frustration for me and my two year-old.

Did you ever hear the story about the kid who was so scared that he had pooped in his diaper that he removed it, took the poo out, and tried to hide the poo in the carpet by spreading it all over so mommy wouldn't be mad? Yeah, when I read that story I realized there must be a better way. With kids 2-5, I just think positive. I love spending $50 dollars a month on diapers. I love changing diapers while holding an intelligent conversation with my three year-old. "Hey dad, would you mind wiping my butt again, I think you might have overlooked a spot." When they are ready, they'll be ready. Don't push them to push it. :) One day they'll decide they want to go.

Last piece of potty-training advice. Don't ever use those public restrooms with the auto-flush because it will freak your kid out and set them back a few months.

Talk how you want them to talk. I had to go to Boston for some training and I stayed with a friend and his family. He has the cutest kids and I love the way the little boys talk. They are so sweet and polite. I remember thinking, "Man, I wish my kids talked so sweet and gentle." I then realized that my friend, the dad, talked the same way to his kids. It's wasn't that they had been born talking that way, they were gentle and polite because their dad talked that way. That was an eye-opener for me. My kids yell because I yell. One of the most frustrating, confusing, hard-to-accept parts about parenthood is realizing that all the actions you dislike in your kids are things they learned from you. You talk nice, and they'll talk nice.

Don't sleep with your kids. I once heard a mom say, childhood is too short to let those chances pass to bond with your child. I'll tell you one thing, if I don't get my sleep someone's childhood was going to be shorter! My philosophy is that parents need sleep to be able to have the patience to handle the situations of the next day. Can anyone explain to me the how having your child's foot in your rib cage is a bonding experience? Maybe their bad breath blowing in your nostrils does something for your relationship that I don't know about? Most people only complain about their kids being in bed with them, I don't often hear about the joy of the experience.

I will say, there are a few exceptions. If we've had a very sick child or there is thunder we make adjustments. I can honestly say however that our five children have maybe spent 30 nights sleeping in our bed with us. It is a very rare occurrence. What we do enjoy is laying in their beds with them just before they go to sleep so we can talk and cuddle.

I could probably add a few more pieces of advice but it is late. The last thing I want to say is this: there are no perfect parents. No one has it together. EVEN IF THEY SAY THEY DO ON THEIR BLOG. I've met some people who mention they love being a parent so much and how everything is perfect and there are butterflies and marshmallows in their kitchen and their children have halos, and then...I meet them and see how they interact and it is not anything like advertised.

I know many women worry often because they doesn't feel like they LOVE cooking and cleaning, and driving, and nagging, and reading, and changing poop, and cleaning up throw up, and bathing kids, and a million other things that are involved. There are people that act like they LOVE all those things, and I'm calling them all out right now. They don't. They like that overall job, but they don't LOVE it so much that they faint when thinking about how euphoric it is to pull chunks of vomit out of a carpet. And no mother sighs a giddy sigh when they reminisce about their child throwing a tantrum in Wal-mart because they couldn't buy a PEZ dispenser.

To all parents out there. Love your kids. Take it one day at a time. Don't sweat the small stuff. Give your kids a hug and tell them they are special. Read together. Play together. Get down on their level. Love them now, because it's your only chance.

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At August 19, 2012 at 11:04 PM , Blogger Cassie L. said...

Awesome Ben!!! You can keep going, I would love to hear more of your thoughts on parenting. I agree with everything. Except maybe the bandaids. And for the life of me I can't figure out why in the world we ever started to explain to them that bandaids can't really fix their particular ailment....but you are right, they are cheap, they make the kids happy and that should be enough, they don't need to understand why it doesn't heal a rug burn because they think it does. You rock!

At August 22, 2012 at 2:41 PM , Blogger Jeni said...

Here's a tip for those automatic flushing toilets - you can put a post it note (or a band aide) over the sensor before your child gets on...then you can be in control of when it'll flush.


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