Friday, August 29, 2008

This Stuff Ain't Easy

I always knew being the father I wanted to be was going to be pretty hard to do. Not going too much into where I came from (not in this post anyway) I didn't exactly have the greatest of models. So now that it's my turn to be the Dad it just amazes me when I look into the mirror and realize that Yeah buddy, it's up to you. So, when I run into articles or stories that make sense, or that provide a good dose of "DUH" I like to reflect on them and share them when possible. Two such pieces are now sitting in front of me, both coming from Parents Magazine. While magazines of this type are typically geared toward the fairer sex (Wifey and I have had plenty of conversations about that - she holds that it is the women who take the time to be the readers and caregivers, I say it is a piece of a larger societal problem where fathers aren't expected to invest themselves in the thought process of parenting - thank God Obama called fathers out in his acceptance speech last night!!!) I still tend to find at least one thing in each issue that I can relate to.

So, from this month's issue...

"Memo to Mommy" - see what I mean? Why not "Memo to Parents?" Sexist?

Anyway, this article provides 10 good little "quotes" that every adult should keep in mind when raising little ones...

  1. Stop freaking out about the mess! There's always time to clean - but how often do we get to make mud pies?
  2. Love me, even when I'm naughty. I'll only be this age once.
  3. Be patient. I do everything for a reason, but I don't know enough words yet to give you an explanation.
  4. Let me do it. I know you can do it faster and better, but sometimes experience is the best teacher.
  5. Don't expect too much of me. I want to do what you ask and make you happy, but I'm still little.
  6. Don't try to reason with me when I'm having a tantrum. Trust me - I can't hear you over my own screaming.
  7. Keep your promises. It's all about trust. When I'm a teenager, you'll understand why it's so important.
  8. Don't keep asking me if I've been good. I'm not even sure what that means, but if I was bad I'd never admit it!
  9. Don't let me think that you're perfect. I feel a lot better knowing I'm not the only one who makes mistakes sometimes.
  10. Set limits. I can't actually eat a whole box of cookies - I just want to see if I'd get away with it.

So, there is the first. Great advice to read each and every day. In fact, Wifey even posted it up on our bathroom mirror. Not sure what she is saying about me/her/us but I'll take the help any way I can get it.

The second article is bigger, with far too many words for me to retype the whole thing so I'll just give their main points. It is titled "Teaching Old-Fashioned Values in a Modern World."

  1. Don't interrupt adults in the middle of a conversation.

    Wifey and I have worked on this since JAM was tiny and we are now getting into it with Red. It is actually pretty funny when we tell her to not interrupt and she yells out "I don't wanna wait!!!!" Well, it's funny right now, but not so much when it actually happens.

  2. Say "Thank You" without being prodded.

    JAM is so amazing at this - with everyone else but us. lol We expect them to say please and thank you each and every time. I've even gotten so far into the habit of prompting that I'll hand a glass of milk or something to a friend's kid and say "What do you say?" only to feel like a doofus for overstepping. Good thing we have such good friends.

  3. Greet adults with "Hello" and a proper name.

    This is something that we honestly haven't worked on much at all. We are very informal people, so we expect kids of friends to call us by our first names and we have always let our kids call other adults by their first names. This is really strange because some of our friend's kids do this by matter of course, but others, who had been students in Wifey's classes way back when, still call us Mr. and Mrs. even though we've tried to get them to stop. This is where having different sets of norms (does this qualify as a value?) is so interesting. I don't want to step on their rules or expectations but I also feel strange when my kids call their parents by their first names and they're calling us by our formal names. I'll have to ask more about that this weekend when we see them for Labor Day.

  4. Hold the door.

    DUH!!!!! Why wouldn't you teach you kids to help, treat others with respect, etc.? Honestly, I think the thing I like most about myself is that I'll go out of my way to help others and holding the door is such a simple way to do this. So when JAM sees me doing this, and now Red sees it too, I'm happy to be a positive role model for this. I'm also so pleased that the magazine chose this one thing as something to focus on. Too many people, especially college kids at UMD where I went to school and still visit and interact with quite frequently and high school-aged kids in my neighborhood, don't think about anyone else around them. I know, it is developmentally appropriate for this up to a certain age, but there is no point in not showing them the right way to act right? I especially love it when I hold the door for another guy. Some guys just don't know what to do with that. Good manners is good manners though right?

  5. If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all.

    Oh! Thank you for saying this! I had a funny sign on my wall when I taught that had some goofy sayings on it. One of them was "Never miss a perfect opportunity to shut up." A bit ruder than maybe called for but my teen-aged audience got it.

  6. Give up your seat.

    Did you read that everyone? I can't tell you how many times Wifey has come home from riding the bus somewhere and told me that someone didn't get up for her. Oh, did I mention that this was usually when she was visibly preggers? And if you know her, she doesn't do 'just a little pregnant.' When my beautiful wife gets knocked up she goes all out so it is very obvious that she is "in that way." So when I heard about college kids knocking over each other, and her, to get on the shuttle buses when she was trying to get on, sometimes with another kid in tow, I wanted to go stand out there with her and b*$%-slap anyone I saw cutting her off or not getting up for her. On second thought, maybe it is a good thing I wasn't there with her. But, I digress as usual. I try to model this one too, on the Metro when we use it, is usually the only place where this might come into play but it all comes down to manners and class. By God my kids will know how to act civilly in their community.

All right, that's it for now. Can't say enough about this topic though, especially when we are surrounded by the area where we live and its lack of basic civility and common courtesy. It's hard to raise your kids "right" when they are constantly being inundated with "wrong" but I'll be dammed if I am going to give up.

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