Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Stop Making Parenting Harder Than It Is

Parents of all stripes, but new parents especially, are prone to worry. And why not? The early months of parenting are unlike anything you've encountered before. You are bone tired and lost at sea, having never been too sea before and without any way of knowing where you are, or even if you are on Earth.

Many parents react to this situation by promptly taking out an auger and drilling a hole right through the bottom of their boat.

The question is - right after "hey, where did they get that auger?" - why? Why do parents make it harder than it has to be.

For one thing, if your kid does it, its probably normal. Like 99.9% probably normal. You see parents in advice columns and busily pounding away questions at Google like... My kid does X, is it normal?

In fact, the first five Google suggestions for "my kid does..." are:

1) doesn't want to go to college
2) doesn't sleep
3) doesn't listen
4) doesn't play sports
5) doesn't eat

Now, kids are bundles of energy. They pretty much are doing at all times. They are little doing machines. They really do nothing but do. That the first five responses all involve supposedly negative conduct is crazy.

Just stop making it harder than it is.

Your kid doesn't listen? So, your kid is like 99.9% of all other kids? This "kids don't listen" thing isn't in any way unique. It's a common meme. You might as well wonder why "my kid doesn't have a third arm?" That is kinda part-and-parcel with the whole "kid" identity. And its the third item on the list, embarrassingly tucked behind "my kid doesn't sleep." Well, yeah, you pretty much can't avoid the not sleeping thing. You can never have a kid of your own, and have no close friends who have babies and no uncles or aunts or siblings who have them, and I bet you'd still be exposed to the whole "babies don't sleep" concept.

I laugh a little inside every time I hear someone say they "slept like a baby." For some reason people always mean this as a good thing, like they slept all night. What a misnomer. Babies don't sleep. Especially early on. "Sleeping like a baby" more closely means you slept in 2-hour increments, and required feedings and coddling in between fits of sleep.

And enough with the eating thing; what I call the picky eater panic. I'm telling you right now, your kid won't eat veggies. Maybe today he does. Maybe he or she has for months. At some point that will stop. It isn't the end the world.

Stop making parenting harder than it has to be.

You, the person nearest to you, and I all survived some days without veggies. Heck, for most of us college, or ages 18-25 for those of you who never went, consisted of almost entirely junk and  very few veggies. I'm sure I ate veggies in college, for instance. But I can distinctly remember 5 or 6 foods I ate, and several entire meals, and veggies aren't present in any of those memories.

"But," you say, "that was college-age you. Nutrients are more important for babies." Sure they are. But are you sure your kid isn't getting enough fruits and vegetables? The actual amount they need is surprisingly small.

Relatedly and not for nothing: your kid doesn't need naturally organic, free trade, gluten free, hydroponically-grown cane syrup flavored, super washed in pure virginal stream water, food either. If you want to go to those lengths, good for you. The free-trade thing is probably especially important to the good of mankind. For the love of all that is holy - and for parents, that pretty much means sleep and down time - stop posting about it on Facebook and searching for it on Google. As I said, if you want to feed your baby that, great. But not every parent does, and I'm pretty sure you and I weren't and we survived.

And then there are the parents I mention in this column. They are worried that their  son's job isn't good enough. Not that he doesn't have a job - he actually has one he loves, and its both pays decent wages and is secure. No; they are concerned that he could do better. Talk about concern trolls.

Speaking of needless worry: look at #4 on that list. Sports? That is what Google thinks is the fourth most likely search for that term? Talk about Live Like Daddy Syndrome! It is behind concern about eating, which while I addressed why that is pretty tame up above, is still a fundamental function to life. Your kid doesn't play sports? Horrors! Let me tell you, if your kid not playing sports is your top concern, you are doing all right.

There is no doubt parenting can be hard at times. There is no escaping the fact that certain issues, events and times are going to probably be the toughest you have ever encountered. You are going to worry when they break their foot, or need a corrective surgery, or have some tick or other health or developmental issue.

The rest of the time though, it should be a pretty easy ride.

Its not very often you'll find me advocating that people had it easier back in the day. I have an entire page dedicated to how great life is these days. And I'm not a technophobic parent who worries endlessly about technology ruining their kid.

But this is one time that I will say that our parents did less, worried less, and got more out of, parenting.

Stop making parenting harder than it is

No comments:

Post a Comment