Thursday, May 12, 2016

On Parenting



There's been a time or two in my life when someone has remarked about my parenting. Mostly good, I'm glad to report, as I'm always making an effort to be the best father I can be. But the praise I get tends to be about the things I do visibly, like taking my daughter to the park or out to eat or just generally doing stuff with her. And while yes, doing stuff is important since children just adore doing things, that's not really the area I want to write about. I don't really want to talk about parenting style, though I may touch on it a bit, and I certainly do not think I have all the answers. I know I don't.

I would like to express the things I think about when I think about parenting.

BALANCE

I think finding a balance is THE most important part of parenting. It's a part that a lot of couples seems to forget about when they have a baby. It's an important part of life in general. You've got to balance work and play, the good and bad, fun and serious. 

I see a lot of parents finding a singular role: Mom's the nice one, Dad's the mean one or Mom's the punctual one, Dad's the goofball. My ex-wife and I split up when my daughter was 2 so I quickly needed to adapt to both sides of the coin. 
I am authoritative when I need to be and easy going when needed; I'm strong when I must be and gentle when I must; punctual when there's a deadline or appointment and laissez-faire when there isn't.

An important part of that is that I'm not always trying to be DAD. When she's at her mother's house, or I'm at work and she's at school, or she's safely in bed for the night, I make sure to take some time and be myself. Just forget the dad part of me and enjoy something I specifically enjoy greedily for myself. It could be a beer with a friend, or just playing a video game without taking turns, or even just a cup of coffee since she's not old enough for it yet. Just my time and my interests to refocus my mind and have a quality of life that's not driving one to madness.

Balance comes into play with discipline and safety too. With discipline, I try to gauge which battles to fight. Find what's really teaching them a valuable lesson and work with that, worrying less about things that you just don't like. With safety, and I know it's really hard, I try to protect her as much as I can but I know I still have to let her get some bumps and bruises along the way. Sometimes a hardship is a great way to let a lesson sink in.


NO CHILD ASKED TO BE BORN

Now, it seems obvious but I don't think people think about it much. And I know a lot of people take it out on the kids. No matter what shitty circumstances brought this child into existence, it's not their fault, they didn't ask for it.

There are parents in this world angry at their children for needing their natural needs. Food, shelter, attention. I know this may come as a shock but YOU caused that child to exist so you're on the hook until they can fend for themselves. I suggest that you accept that they will need constant attention, constant feeding, constant shelter, constant parenting until adulthood and probably beyond. Find those times for yourself when you can but not at the child's expense because YOU made that child exist on this planet so don't be mad that you're inconvenienced at the kid, be mad at yourself.

I know it's incessant, and sometimes I wanna run away, but this is my duty. I chose to make a child, so I parent.


EVERY CHILD IS AN ACTUAL HUMAN BEING

Shocking! Those little people are actually people! With their own thoughts and feelings! 

I've never been a fan of "Because I said so!" I guess the theory goes: Tell your child something and they should immediately understand why you want those things. Even if they don't understand you don't respect them enough to try and teach them? 

You tell them "To get respect you have to give respect" so don't forget that lesson yourself. As soon as a child starts asking why, they deserve to be explained to. Curiosity is amazing and something lots of adults lose. I'd hate to stifle that in a child because I felt like they should just jump the second I tell them too. They ask because they want to understand, if they understand the reasoning for a rule or whatever, maybe they will respect the rule and adhere to it. 

Or maybe they won't. But you keep trying, as is your duty, like we discussed previously in the section above this one. They didn't ask to be born so you might as well help them understand the world that YOU'VE subjected them to. 

If you don't know the answers, there's no shame in telling a child "I don't know". They won't think less of you. They'll see that no one has all the answers, and if you make it a quest to find out the answer together, they'll see that learning can be a wonderful, lifelong pursuit. 

Along with that goes the fact that every child is different. You've gotta adjust your methods and expectations for each one, as they are all unique humans and their slight difference in experience and neurobiological make up is going to skew their perspective in their way. 

Hey, my kid is no angel and I'm just some guy on the internet, but I try to guide her on the path that leads her to the skills necessary to have a happy life.  My final advice would be to do it with love and try to see the world from their perspective, so you can find a way to show them yours. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Dearest Montgomery


Dearest Montgomery, 
     I hope this letter finds you well. All is grand down here on the plantation. Why, mother just whimspiddled her sootmunter the other day!
     Unfortunately, Martha had a right spell of consumption and was defecating profusely all over the fore and aft of the veranda. My heavens, the smell was incontrovertible proof of the existence of demons. That odor could only have been produced in the bowels of the underworld itself. 
     In better news, Arthur has met a fine young woman. Her beauty knows no bounds and Arthur will not stop singing her praises. He claims she even takes deliveries in the rear entrance, often and superbly. 
     Well, the visitors should be returning shortly so please forgive the brevity of my correspondence. I must sing their song promptly before the clock strikes three or the innocents shall bear the brunt of their vengeance. I certainly hope my harp plucking is quick enough to appease our furry travelers of the aether. 
                                                                                  Sincerely yours,
Maxwell