The trend today is to ALWAYS make our children happy (at all times; at any expense). Recently I encountered a young family at Chik-fil-A® (I don’t agree with their politics but they serve a great chicken sandwich and my grandkids love the place!) who were cajoling Junior into eating his nuggets with the promise of ice cream and the indoor playground – so far so good. But when Junior was presented with the ‘free book’ that came with his meal, he threw it at the beleaguered mother and screamed, “I don’t like this one!” The frazzled father promptly promised to stop on the way home and buy him a different book after he had his ice cream and play time. I then promptly gave my grandson a ‘don’t even think about look’ while he was taking all of this in.
Now I’m compelled to share my wisdom as a service to all young parents out there (even though my own children would likely tell you that all their scars are emotional). So here in no particular order are my Rules for Parenting :
- Stop trying to be the perfect parent; they only exist in your mother’s imagination.
- It’s easier to negotiate with a terrorist than a two-year old.
- Don’t try to be your child’s friend (be a parent; it’s more rewarding in the long run).
- When doling out punishment, don’t flinch; once they see your weakness they won’t let up (give up, shut up) until you cave in.
- When they’re old enough to walk, they’re old enough to pick up their toys.
- Stop buying them so much stuff; love is free and it’s worth so much more.
- Be silly sometimes; be serious when you must.
- Pray (even if you’re just praying for sanity).
- Pick your battles; no child ever died because he didn’t clean his plate or take a proper nap.
- Reasoning with a preschooler can be like trying to nail JELLO® to a tree; it’s okay to just say NO (and mean it).
- Close your door; give yourself a TIME OUT when things reach the boiling point.
- Remember who the adult is and behave like one.
- It’s okay to be angry; kids can sometimes really piss you off. (But use your inside voice when you’re angry).
- Go outside; get some exercise and breathe some fresh air (and take the kids with you).
- You don’t ALWAYS have to have all the answers; it’s alright to say, “because I said so; that’s why!”
- When in doubt trust your instincts; my parents did and look how well I turned out.