Sunday, December 21, 2008

Tony's Parenting Tips

My friend Mike is going to be a proud papa soon, and asked me if I have any advice. Here's what little I have - not that I have the presence of mind to follow it as often as I like. And no, I don't claim to have thought of any of this on my own:

Adults are butterflies, kids are caterpillars. It's easy to think that kids are just little butterflies, but they're not. They are completely different,. They see the world differently, and they think differently than we do.

Kids are going to do stupid shit. When you get angry, ask yourself if what they did is worth getting angry about, or if you're angry because you're afraid other people are going to judge your parenting skills.

Your life isn't all about you anymore. You don't have all the answers and there is no more time to find them. You can't go off and do whatever you wanted to do or chase that dream, etc. Yes, you can still work on that novel or complete your med-school degree etc, but your plan to circumnavigate the globe in a lawn chair tethered to weather balloons or to run away to Bombay, India and be movie star has to be put on hold. Now your plans all have to be about your family. But the reward of having one outweighs it all. At least for me it has.

Nature takes precedent over nurture. Maybe you have a character flaw you blame your parents for, and you think, "If I don't do what they did, my kids won't turn out like I did." Then your kids start acting the same way anyhow, so you think that if you can punish the behavior out of them. It doesn't work. (It didn't work with you, did it?) Not that you should let the kids run wild, etc, just be prepared that the kids are going to act however their nature dictates them to, no matter what you do or how much you punish them, or how infuriated you get.

I need glasses because I can't see. Someone else might not be able to see either. However, my glasses aren't going to help them. I can go on and on about how my glasses helped me, and don't you realize I just love you and I just want to help you, why won't you let me help you, etc etc etc- but my glasses simply won't help. Problems are the same way - what worked for you might not necessarily work for your kids. Sometimes they need to figure it out on their own.

Don't compare your kids to your nieces and nephews or your friends' kids and don't compare your kids to each other (if there are more than one.) They all have their own personalities and abilities and they'll surprise you by how different they are. Just give them love and it'll work out.

Any more ideas?



Aravis said...

Not being a parent myself, I can't add anything. All I can say is that I think you're spot on.

String said...

Laughter...such a great medicine.

Knitting Painter Woman said...

This is an EXCELLENT "first dose" of parenting advice. You can be proud. (At some point I'd encourage self reflection (on the parent's part) on "what's the lesson for my child here?" AND "what's the lesson for ME here?"

Caroline said...

Wow! I wish my mother had had this advice when I was little!

The only thing I'd add, based on puppy training (of course) - is watch out for what your child sees as a reward and make sure you only reward the behaviours you want.

Be really careful about what is a reward, for instance, almost any sort of attention has the capacity to be considered a reward...