(Yes, I'm going there.)
What a blessing.
What a wonderful opportunity.
And a huge responsibility.
The stress... the worries... the choices.
It's the hardest thing any of us will ever do!
But it's worth it!
Sometimes, I am secretly an opinionated person.
Only about some things.
Confession: LIKE PARENTING.
I think this comic, below, represents a lot of us.
Before you have children, you wonder why the baby is crying on the airplane,
or why there are children screaming in the grocery cart and the mother is ignoring them,
or why there are many things happening that involve children.
Children you do not have.
Of course, I had opinions (just like everyone else) about what you should be doing with your children.
But I won't share those.
I will share that I have applied my thoughts to my own children - all though I have more understanding for the various scenarios...
(Hello! It's an airplane. Where would you like them to go? The baggage? Get over it, it's a couple of hours max. Nobody likes flying anyways.)
(Ignoring her child is the only way to get them to stop tantruming over that box of pop tarts!)
However... I feel like I have a little more experience in the parenting boat, so I can form some opinions, and actually have weight behind them.
Rule #1 - Don't hit your kids.
Not only does it not work, but it makes them worse, and teaches them to hit other people.
This includes spanking.
Worst. Punishment. Idea. Ever.
Rule #2 - Watch your children. Parent your children.
Also, at large gatherings with other parents and their children, please - continue to parent your children - this is an event, not a babysitting service.
Never assume someone else is watching your child.
Even when you ask someone to watch them, keep in mind that nobody will 'watch' them like you will watch them. Because you know them. So please, watch them.
Your child is hitting my child while you are chatting about how annoying your hair was this morning.
This makes the mama bear annnnngry.
Rule #3 - Don't use the tv as a babysitter.
This makes kids' attention spans sink to 0%, as well as makes them sleepy and lazy. How do you feel after watching hours of tv? Magnify it for tiny people still learning about things.
Imagination is a magical thing.
Also, some tv is ok - but appropriate shows, please! Why are people letting their kids watch inappropriate shows? I don't care if you have a 9-year-old who really, super duper loves "Glee" and so do you. Watch it later, on Hulu, when the kids are in bed.
Rule #4 - Let your kids be kids!
Don't make up your babies to look like tiny hookers because you think "it's cute" - no!!
Every little girl wants to be a princess for a day, and twirl around, but she doesn't need a mother behind her, pushing her into making it a career. If you didn't get to be a supermodel, cry about it in your pillow, but don't control your daughter's life.
Rule #5 - Use your brain.
I don't care if you think it's "cute" - as adults, you make your own choices.
About your habits, your lifestyles, yourself.
Children are taught by their parents.
Who should be adults.
Your job is to raise your child, and let them make their own decisions.
Rule #6 - Don't be afraid of a tantrum.
It's ok to say NO.
Children need rules, because they are still learning everything.
If they cried and cried because they wanted to touch a hot burner, would you let them touch it because you were afraid they wouldn't love you as much if you didn't let them?
Give me a break.
Rule #7 - Seriously. These are children, not tiny doll adults.
I wonder sometimes if there should be licensing in order to have children, but I think the population would suffer.
Rule # 8 - If you are unable to use your brain to be a parent, seek help.
I'm sure friends and neighbors, or even the great big wide internet, has someone out there who will gladly give advice on how to help you in a situation you are having.
Something I have learned - no matter what is happening, usually someone else has also been through it. It's good to ask for help!
Rule #9 - Don't yell at your kids about trivial things.
Think first - is this really a big deal? Think second - is yelling going to make a difference?
Usually - NO.
Remember, this is America.
If that lamp was so special to you, buy another one.
If that broken gift from your great-great-aunt Merva is really upsetting you, start thinking about how when we die, we leave it all behind anyways, and the next person to have it in their possession may not think it is as special as you did, and it will probably end up being thrown out anyways.
I'm tired of hearing parents scream at their children in the store - in the shopping cart, in the parking lot - about trivial things.
"Please, put your coat on."
"GET YOUR *****AHHHH COAT ON!"
"No, we're not going to be buying that today. But fun idea!"
"PUT IT DOWN!!! STOP TOUCHING EVERYTHING!!"
and my favorite -
When parents "count to 3" but always stop at 2, and either give the kids what they want, or drag it out to the 3, and then do nothing.
It's not that hard - this is how you count to three.
Prep it: "You need to calm down and put those fruit snacks back on the shelf nicely by the time I get to 3, or we are leaving this store with no groceries."
One.... two.... three.
Even spaces. Don't drag out the two to three! At three, leave the store with no groceries, as promised.
Yes, inconvenient. Yes, you will probably have to come back. But being uncomfortable once or twice in turn for good behaving children is more than worth the effort.
Rule #10 - Spend time with your children.
Children are people! I don't know why this is hard to understand.
We need to be gentle with them, and spend time with them.
Talk to them like a human being.
Tell them when they are doing something good.
Do crafts together.
Even if you throw them out an hour later.
Because it's doing something together, and learning together, that matters.
Sometimes I feel like people need a parenting manual.
There are so many stories out there of scary things happening to children.
Which is weird, because a lot of parenting is common sense.
Common sense + avoiding laziness = perfection!
These are our precious, delicate, treasured children.
The world is an ugly place - and it is our job to teach them truths, and gospels, and prepare them to face the world, brave and ready to stand still in the storm.
We have the responsibility of being tender with them, and to swallow our own pride, make sacrifices, seek knowledge, support, and grow.
We have to learn to shout out loud, and bite our tongue.
To spend time learning about our children.
And reminding them how precious they are. Even when they are old and live far away.
I think having a sense of humor as a parent should be a requirement!
I can't tell you how many times I remember laughing until I thought I was going to pee myself as a kid, because my Dad was the funniest man on earth.
We need to be gentle fathers.
And loving mothers.
And sometimes, we need to find ways where "punishments" are productive progress opportunities...
Parenting is hard.
Get over it.