Saturday, August 6, 2011

Parenting - The World's hardest, most rewarding and frustrating job.

I'm aware I haven't 'blogged' for quite some time. It's very simple really, teaching full time, parenting full time and living full time makes the 'extra' bits hard to fit in. As I'm getting on I find I do enjoy my sleep and don't like to pass it up.
Speaking of 'getting on' I will be the grand 4-0 next week and whilst I've never fussed about my birthdays (I feel they are more a day for my Mum to reminisce) this one has come around amazingly quickly. I always thought I would reach an age where I would know exactly who I am and what I'm doing. 40 is obviously not the age... perhaps it will be 50....
I found the following article in The Australian and wonder that I wasn't able to obtain the kudos for writing it as it's pretty much my total philosophy on parenting (never mind if I actually succeed at any or all of the bits). I just had to share it. Enjoy.

Show me the terrified parent and I shall show you some rules
Tom Jellett illo
Illustration: Tom Jellett Source: Supplied
WE are made to fear parenting. Going by what you read, even in fine publications such as the one you are enjoying at the moment, there seems to be little chance that your child will turn out well.
Every day there's yet another article about how we are creating a new generation of unmotivated, obese, anti-social morons who will never leave home. And it is all your fault. Or if not, it may as well be, as you will be hopelessly ill-equipped to deal with a society determined to destroy your gorgeous little bundle.
You joined your lousiest genes with those of your partner and created a chromosomal catastrophe just waiting to grow up.
The method of birth you chose has ruined any chance your offspring might have had at a successful happy life. As you stumbled sleepless through their early years, your amateurish attempts at parenting have given you a toddler who is spoilt, full of neuroses and bad habits, developing an allergy to everything, and who is lagging behind at every developmental milestone.
Your actions during their formative years have destroyed your child's self-esteem, undermined their resilience, blunted their creativity, failed to lay the foundations for future learning and encouraged a range of repellent anti-social behaviours.
As the child grows and attempts to mature, there is no doubt that he or she will turn into an overweight video game addict with psychopathic tendencies. They will be precociously sexualised before being stalked, bullied and warped by the hours spent online. They will be unable to form healthy relationships offline and turn out in general to be selfish, narcissistic, unimaginative, demanding, unrealistic, charmless blobs unable to fend for themselves and do anything else but sneer on Twitter.
Look, I've done a bit of parenting, and like anyone else who's had a shot at it, I'm full of advice.
Here are a few simple rules to follow, which I believe will turn your child into a functioning adult with a positive outlook and body mass index figures in an acceptable range.
Rules for parents:
  • Stop reading the articles.
  • Don't read the books and above all, don't listen to other parents.
  • Don't do your child's school project.
  • Don't smoke in the car with them.
  • Don't scream at them at sporting events.
  • No whacking.
  • Sarcasm not good. Yeah, right, try parenting without it, smart boy. (See what I mean?)
  • Feed them. Try to vary the diet.
  • Play with them.
  • Talk to them.
  • Read to them.
  • Watch some TV with them.
  • Take them to the movies. Let them buy popcorn.
  • Let them play with the weird kid you don't like. They'll like some other kid next week.
  • They will see inappropriate movies and TV shows at some other kid's house. Don't worry about it.
  • Make them go outside.
  • Let them get bored.
  • Let them make a mess.
  • Don't worry about what they're wearing.
  • They need to know how to use a knife and fork.
  • It's "please" when you ask and "thank you" when you get.
  • They don't know the rules of hide and seek; you have to teach them.
  • Throw a ball to them.
  • Go to the park.
  • Get a pet.
  • Teach them how to cross the road and then let them walk to school. Getting hit by cars is tragic but statistically unlikely.
  • Same for getting snatched off the streets by perverts in white vans.
  • Get them to bed on time.
  • Let them stay up on Saturday night.
  • Take them to funerals.
  • Take them to parties.
  • Answer their questions.
  • Let them finish their stories.
  • Whatever they're into, get into yourself. Play Xbox. Listen to Justin Bieber. You don't have to do it all the time. Just a few times. Remind yourself that this too will pass.
  • Make sure they know school is important. Go to parent teacher meetings. Do some work in the tuck shop.
  • Make them do their homework.
  • Say no.
  • Let them fail.
  • Tell them when they're doing stuff wrong.
  • Give clear instructions.
  • Have a routine.
  • Sometimes throw the routine away.
  • Look pleased to see them.
  • You will get angry. They won't hear what you're saying while you're angry. Only that you're angry. Apologise for being angry and tell them what you were angry about later when you're calm.
  • They may not be very much like you. They might be quite different.
  • Most of them won't be concert violinists, discover nuclear fusion or play for Australia.
  • Wrestle with the boys.
  • Be there.
  • Praise them.
  • Hug them.
  • Tell them they're great. Tell them you love them. Let them go.
Do all that, and then the rest is up to them.
I'm not suggesting my kids are wonderful. Nor that I'm a wonderful father. Of those rules I observe about half of them half of the time. The other half of the time I'm a nagging old idiot, thinking only of myself and looking at brochures for boarding schools.
If only they'd been selected for Hogwarts.

The best use of an ironing pile yet!
Well, what do you think? I have had a shot at this parenting thing twice. The first time was rather unsuccessful, the second going rather better to plan. May be more the children than the parent that's the greatest variable to my philosophy. Speaking of which, back to watching Mary Poppins snuggled up in bed with my 2 cherubs and their Other Mother. Time to get up shortly and head off to dance class. Then, who knows, it's not good to plan too far ahead.

Have a great day.


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