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My One Piece Of Advice

When it comes down to it, parenting is pretty much a crap shoot. It is like rolling a 100-sided die and having to pick the exact number it will land on. And getting it wrong means you'll have poop or permanent marker smeared on your face. Sure, you know all 100 numbers backwards and forwards, but that won't help you when you have poop lodged inside your nostril or a poorly drawn mustache on your face for that important work meeting.

Because outside of a steady routine, just about anything else you do can be either entirely wrong for your kid, or the best parenting choice you could make. The worst part is you don't know which is what until its done. You can set strict rules and raise a good, god-fearing and law-abiding citizen who excels at everything he does; but you are just as likely to end up with some psychopath. You can provide no rules and raise a a free-spirited rebel, Gerry Garcia type; but you are just as likely to raise the next Charlie Sheen. It has as at least as much to do with the genetics of that particular kid as anything you do.

Add into this soup a little flavor: a lot of what you may think you know about parenting is wrong; as in scientifically proven wrong.

Forcing kids to eat veggies? Yep; wrong. Check out that link above. Or read about the Picky Eater Panic here, and why you probably don't need to push veggies here, or well, more about it here.

Doing homework with your kid seems like an important and foolproof method of good parenting. Done properly, that simply must be correct. Nope. Wrong again. And not just wrong, but potential deleterious as well.

Life, and parenting, would be better if it was as simple as applying Parenting Method Y in Family Family A while applying Parenting Method X to children in Family B. But no. Each kid from Family A probably need their own unique parenting method.

In a perfect world maybe someone could come up with a parenting manual. And outside the fact that that baby would be something like 120,132 pages long, with requisite footnotes, is the fact that there wouldn't be one manual. There wouldn't even be one manual titled TripeTheDad Parenting Manual. There would be a manual titled Parenting TripeTheDad Child 1, a second titled Parenting TripeTheDad Child 2, and so on and so on. And none of the manuals would apply to anyone else. It would be like if every single car required its own unique manual.

As a anecdotal aside, we got home from a short weekend vacation recently, upon which our 4-year-old daughter asked us where babies come from. We gave her the stock answer: when a Mommy and Daddy love each other they choose to have a baby. Done is done, right?

Nope.

She wants to know ... does someone give you the baby, or do you make it, or what? No, we tell her, Mommy and Daddy make one. And now she wants to know how exactly Mommy and Daddy go about making one. I mumbled through the best answer I could, knowing it was much more awkward for me than for her. Then I did what every good parent does - I headed to the internet for advice. I'm now fully prepared for a follow up from her that will probably never come. Instead I'll get blindsided by a question from my boys I can't answer.

That is part of my point above. Because those boys could care less about babies.They haven't given this a minutes thought, as far as I can tell. My little girl though, without much prompting or pushing, and with full access to the same toys and shows the boys watch, has come to focus on babies and their care. Its inherent in her DNA.

Each child requires its own unique parenting manual.

If you've read this far, this is starting to sound like a "what not to do" rant. You may well be starting to wonder whether I have any insights on what to actually do. What is that one piece of advice I promised?

Remember that vacation I mentioned? Take it. Because nothing revitalizes you and makes you miss your kids and their crazy antics like being away for a day or two. Suddenly hanging onto to your shirt collar is cute again, rather than annoying.

And take it without reservation. Kids are an ocean of love into which more is to be poured, not a cup that needs filled endlessly. Your day away will not deprive them.

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