Thursday, August 5, 2010
How to be a Perfect Parent in One Easy Step
Step One: Be completely selfless.
I'm not kidding. Well, maybe a little bit about the one step being easy.
This does not mean that you should indulge your child's every whim, or wait on them like a man-servant. What it means is that you must put what your child needs before what you want. Just make sure you have a clear definition of need vs. want.
I've been trying to do this, and I admit, it is not easy. It is, in fact, impossible, because I am not (and neither are you) completely selfless. But it has given me a new way of looking at things, that has really made my life easier.
As I have written before, I am not raising children. I am raising adults. They just happen to be children right now. So, I try to picture the adults I want my children to be.
I want my children, now and in the future, to be responsible, and respectful. (I also want them to love Jesus, but that is a different post.) So, every time they are disrespectful or irresponsible I should correct them or direct them in the way they should go, even if it means I must get off the phone/the computer/my ever widening butt to do it.
Oh, and sometimes, they just want to spend time with me. I am, after all, one of the people they love most in the world. Kinda sweet, huh? While this is something that they want, I think, that at their age, it also qualifies as a need. Kinda convicting, too.
Some scenarios for you:
You sit down to dinner, finally, and you want to eat while the food is still hot. Your five year old, who is already half way through his meal, says, "I need some water." Unless he is so dehydrated his tongue is beginning to swell, he can wait twenty minutes for a glass of water. What he really needs is not water, but patience and manners. You get to eat.
Your baby is poopy. You need to pee. Your need trumps hers. You have to take care of yourself or you will be worthless, right? In fact, I am going to go out on a limb and say that your needs, true needs, especially the pressing ones like lunch and potty breaks, trump hers every time, unless hers are life-threatening. Oh, except sleep. You don't get to sleep. Sorry.
You are sitting on the couch playing video games. (This would be a Dad scenario.) Your five year old is watching intently. Even helping with commentary. "Kill him, Daddy. Kill him! Stab him with your Sword of Mordechai! Oh, look at the blood squirt out! Take that you zombie son of bitch!" Is this really acceptable behavior from your five year old? Because he now thinks so. He needs to not be exposed to this stuff. You need to turn it off.
You are on the computer, checking your facebook, then your blog, then you e-mail, then going back to facebook to see if anything new has happened. (This would be a Mom scenario.) Your three year old is pulling all of the tissue out of the box. You ignore him, because he is not really hurting anything. Then he helps himself to a box of dry cereal. He is eating it with his very dirty hands, right out of the box, and getting most of it on the floor. You ignore him, because, again, he is not really hurting anything. You don't eat that kind of cereal and you're going to have to sweep the floor anyway. Is this really acceptable behavior from your three year old? Because he now thinks so. He needs to be corrected. You need to get up.
Now, I know moms need some alone time or some girl time. I get that. And, dads apparently need to play video games or use tools. I don't get that, but I shall respect it, and move on. May I suggest that we schedule these things? It won't be huge swaths of time to spend on yourself like it used to be, like you want it to be, but it should be enough to meet your needs. Mom can take the kids to the park on Saturday morning so Dad can eviscerate vampires, or whatever he does, and Dad can keep them on Saturday afternoon so Mom can have lunch with her sister. And hey, Dads. If you think the solution to this is a separate room where you can play Blood Carnival XII, without having to worry about the impact on the kids, you are missing the point.
Having said all that, I would like to let my regular readers know that I will be leaving town tomorrow and I will be gone all weekend, without children, in a house by the sea, where I plan to do nothing. Nothing. No. Thing. All thanks to my wonderful husband. For other disclaimers, see below.
DISCLAIMER: The "How to be a Perfect Parent in One Easy Step" program comes with no warranties, express or implied. The author admits she only has three children, all ill-mannered, the oldest only five. The author further admits that, while she firmly believes in her program, and is following it herself, to the best of her ability, she may be full of carp (that troublesome fish). The author further admits that, in the event she has no idea what she is talking about, she has established three funds to care for her children in the future: One for therapy, one for rehab, and one for bail. She suggest that all parents taking her advice, do the same.