Is Parenting Really Supposed To Be This Hard?
Oct 9, 13
by George Butiri
Yes! Now, let’s expand on this. I keep asking people who think life was supposed to be easy: “Who the Hell lied to you and told you life was supposed to be easy”? It might be easier from certain points of view, but definitely not easy. Nothing is easy. Even standing up requires the use of most of your muscles. That’s why couches are easier, but get you fatter somehow.
I come across many other parents who agree when we discuss how difficult raising a child can be. It’s not impossible, it just requires time and some sort of effort, be it physical, mental, or emotional. My last blog, I posted about marriage and other relationships. When you have a kid, it’s another relationship. Just like you keep your relationship with your parents, you have to keep an additional one with your kid. And it goes up exp
onentially the more kids you have. When you get 2 kids, not only do you have to keep a relationship with each one, but also with the “team” of kids.
My psychology teacher told me once. If you have any kids, have two. It’s the perfect number. One is lonely, and will always feel outnumbered. Three, well, you’re outnumbered, and two of them will always gang up on the third. Four is a nice balanced number among them, but they still outnumber the parents. Two is perfect.
As far as having Ethan, our son, it’s hard! I’m sure you’ve done other hard things in your life. Went to school, went to work, worked hard, and the reward was the satisfaction of it when it was finished. With parenting it’s a little different. You always worry, even when you’re with them at the time. When they get sick, when they eat something off of the floor, when they bring home a turtle (Ethan hasn’t yet), when they get their first F in school, when they get bullied the first time, or made fun of, when they find their first girlfriend and leave you all alone, when that girl breaks their heart and they come back to the nest for comfort, when they get in their first bike accident, car accident, when they drop out of college, when they lose their first job, when they marry, when they get a divorce… I could go on. It’s a long list until the end.
Go over the list above and realize that each one of those things have made you who you are today as well. It made you a stronger parent. More suitable to deal with these issues later in life. You can tell a blind man what an apple looks like, but they’re never going to experience the color red in their life. Let your kids touch the hot pan once. Let them run around and get a bruise. Believe it or not, we’re all animals still. We have instincts, we have needs, food, water, shelter, love, fun. We need to learn from our mistakes. We need to fall a few times before we can learn balance. We need to crash a car at least once in order to realize how much it sucks and to try to avoid it next time.
Watch out though! When he falls down and gets a bit of a scratch, it’s not the end of the world. It hurts, yeah. For them it hurts even worse because it may be the first time he experiences it. Let him experience it. The more he experiences it now, the more careful he will be to avoid it later. There are some exceptions, of course, as with anything in life. Falling of a cliff might actually end your curiosity, forever. Here’s the warning. When they get a little scratch, don’t rush right away to them. Don’t baby them. If you do that, they may never learn the right amount of pain. They may just feel a little bit, and learn that when something hurts, mommy or daddy will rush to them to make it feel better. Be careful here. Balance it in a way so that if he’s bleeding, obviously wash it out, rub some ointment on it, but let him learn the lesson of pain. And don’t give the “Poor baby” speech. Instead, tell him, “You do something stupid, something stupid happens”. Be realistic. It will prepare your kid better for the future to deal with reality and when it hits them like a train.
Ok, enough of that rant. I’m not saying if they get hurt to kick them down some more. Just don’t overdo it. Let them learn on their own. Your best lessons in life, you’ve learned on your own. Do that for their sake, not for yours.
Swearing. Ok, here’s one I have an issue with a lot of parents. Swearing is nothing than words. Words are part of the English language. I’m not saying drop the F bomb every sentence like an Al Pacino movie, but definitely drop the F bomb if it merits. You slam that hammer on your thumb, shout it! If your kid says it too ask them why they said it. Then tell them that they’re only allowed to say that when around family and friends. Definitely not language to use in front of teachers or co-workers, managers, what have you. Don’t limit their vocabulary from a young age. English is a beautiful language. You just have to know when to say what. That way, your kid is still allowed to say them, so they won’t hide behind your back to say it, and that will earn you respect in front of them. Communication is the key here. Talk to your kids about everything, and listen to everything they have to say. The more you know, the more prepared you are to talk with them when they’re ready.
Ethan started looking after girls his age from the age of 4. Don’t tell me that biology only kicks in at the age of 13 or 18. Studies have shown 4 year olds that can orgasm. It’s reality. Don’t believe me? Google it, or watch some House.
And if they grow older and tell you that they want to join the military, or that they’re gay, or God forbid, Republican, or whatever the case may be, don’t shout at them. That will turn them off right away. Don’t scold them. Don’t tell them how stupid they, or their decision is. Make sure that you do communicate that you don’t like the decision, but that you still love them. Don’t disown them. Don’t push them away. It’s the same as saying to your spouse that you want to divorce her because she now likes Chocolate ice cream instead of vanilla. It’s simply stupid. No matter what your attitude is towards their decision, they will continue down that path. Instead, you could ask them if they’re really well informed about their decision. “Did you know that” type of discussions could sprout up. Make sure that you both set some time to discuss this, and that you see each others’ points of view, even if you don’t agree. “Did you know that if you join the Army, you’re 10 more times likely to die young? Did you know that you join the Marines, your life expectancy in the field is 7 seconds, and that if you become a machine gunner, that number drops down to 3 seconds?” They might be making a decision based on misinformation. And we know that the world is full of it. “Join the Army, we’ll pay for your college”. You never hear the fine print, “… but you might not survive long enough to get to college”.
Make them critical thinkers. Make them ask the questions, “Why should I join? What are my benefits, what are the repercussions?” Make them make a list of pros and cons on any decision. Better yet, get together and make that list together.
Play with them! Spend as much time with them as possible. This is their learning stage. Until they’re 7 years old, you are their most important influence. Make games with them, be silly with them, talk with them, even if it’s through puppets or toy cars. If you have a girl, don’t be afraid to play tea party with her. It will be what she remembers growing up. You will be that little secret friend that played teacups with her. You should never feel ashamed of your kid, or things that you do with your kid.
In any case, how your kids end up is a total reflection of you and how you raised them. Stop blaming society. Get a job that allows you to spend more time with them, not a job that makes you more money. If you already have a kid (4-5 years of age), ask them, what would they rather have, a million dollars, or to see you more at home? If they say a million dollars, you’ve already failed and it will be that much harder to get them to understand why the other choice is the better choice.
I hear parents constantly, “Can’t wait to get away from the kids.” Wow, you hate your kids that much? Are they that much of a burden? You should not have been given the right to have kids. Sorry, but, Fuck you! You’ve failed! “Can’t wait for them to go to college!” Another Fuck you! You’re teaching your kids that you can’t wait for them to get out of your life. They grow up not knowing what love is. They feel rejected, like they did something wrong. “Oh, you’re 16? Get a job and pay rent!” Where is a kid supposed to find comfort anymore? If not at home, they’re going to try to find the easy way out. Home should be their refuge, their home plate, their safety net. You’re 25? No job, no car, no degree? You can stay here until you find your path in life, whatever that may be.
Talk about a path in life. Oh boy! So many kids are pressured these days to perform more and better and stronger and faster. What the Hell is wrong with parents? What ever happened with “Are you happy”? Gotta push those kids to work them mines, I suppose. Don’t worry about happiness, you’ll have lots of money when you graduate at the age of 28. Childhood? Not for you. You can act like a child when you turn 28. Starting to see a pattern here? No wonder most “responsible adults” act like kids these days. They weren’t allowed to when they were actual kids.
Instead of forcing them to go into finance, law, medicine, etc, talk to them, and ask them, “What do you like to do”? They may like other things than what you like. After all, they are a whole different person. maybe they don’t even understand what paying bills is at the moment. How can they conceive adulthood when they don’t even know how to drive a car?
I asked Ethan what he wanted to do while I was doing some programming with him. Instantly he said “Programmer”. Days later while he was watching TV, I asked him what he wanted to do when he grows up, he says, “Nothing”. The most honest answer! And I respect that.
All I know is that I will provide him with whatever resources possible for him to find his way in life. If he likes to paint, and wants to do that for a living, he better practice it until he becomes the best at it. Like to play the guitar? Be the best at it. Like to play with LEGOs? Build to your heart’s content, my future engineer. No matter the choice he makes in life, he will like doing it, and like it so much that he’ll want to do it for a living at one point. This is how I got to develop websites for a living, and I’m making a really nice buck while at it. Let’s just say that I make more than median household all by myself so that his mom can spend that special time with him and raise him right.
Anyway, you have a long journey ahead of yourself. Try to be as patient with your kid as possible, and keep it real for them. If something sucks, don’t sugarcoat it. Say it sucks. If they did a nice job, don’t overdo it like it’s the best thing ever. Tell them, “Nice job,” if it was a nice job.
Parenting is not easy. No one ever said it was. And if they do say that, they suck as parents! Parenting is hard, but the rewards in the end, and the personal relationship you gain out of it is truly something awesome.