Showing posts with label parenting. Show all posts
Showing posts with label parenting. Show all posts

Monday, April 11, 2016

Parenting: On Yelling and Hitting

My daughter is 7 now and I can count the times I have legitimately yelled at her on one hand. I have always talked to her, reasoned things out, etc. I prioritize her psychological health over anything else- us being late, me being tired, whatever. And I NEVER hit her. Or "spank" her (which is hitting, stop pretending otherwise).

I have always had a policy of "treat her like I'd like to be treated." No one would want to be yelled at or hit by someone six times their size, so why would we expect fragile little children to tolerate that? It's totally unfair (but I get it!!!! they don't understand our job and how they unintentionally make it harder and what we feel/go through, especially as single parents; we're tired, stressed, dissatisfied, etc....I do get it!).

People around me try to convince me to "toughen up" as they think sometimes things "take too long" (just yell and she'll do it right away, they say) but again my priority is her not me or them. Everyone always uses the running on the road example (what if she ran onto the road without looking, you're going to "talk" it out?) but she never does anything like that and she listens very well. She respects me because I treat/see her as a real person and I make sure to care about how she is feeling. In turn she doesn't want to disappoint me so she tries her best to be a helpful girl.

I know it's tough. We're tired, we're frustrated, the list of things to do never ends. But you have to keep in mind the nature of children, understand it and work with them- don't hold them responsible for their nature (they had nothing to do with it). Ask yourself why you yelled or hit and you'll realize your answers don't actually justify the response. It's always "we were going to be late or I said it four times already!" which really means "it didn't happen when I wanted it to" which is never worth even a minuscule amount of fear, anxiety, or hit to self confidence that they can (and do) experience. They are fragile and they need us to be on their side.

Monday, April 13, 2015

In Defense Of 'Crazy' Stay At Home Moms

We all know the trope of the 'crazy' suburban mom; you know,  the one who screams at her kids and husband all day despite being medicated to the gills with pharmacological agents and vodka coolers and while I have done my share of sneering at them to myself and others (shitty behaviour around kids is hard not to sneer at) I have been thinking a lot about these women and what might be at the root of the problem and I think that "they're just crazy" isn't fair and what really may be going on is totally not their fault but actually the fault of the way we engineered post-industrialization/post-agricultural societies.

If you travel back in time to say 50,000 years ago, what was the life of a mother like? Were they alone, separated into individual houses, or together as a community, dealing with everyone's' kids all at once?

It was the latter.

Assuming we all agree on this point, (and how can't we; I'm always right after all, right C-man? fuma!) what can we take from this? Well, it logically follows that evolving to raise kids in a community would lead women of future generations to basically needing said communities for support and ultimately, optimal mental health. So, separating into houses all along a street and living in their own little worlds with their kids and hubbies (when home from work) could possibly be setting them up for failure. Living contrary to ones' nature is a recipe for mental illness, right?

If we think about the nature of women, are they more oriented towards being solitary or in groups? I think we all know the answer. They are definitely wired towards being hive minded. Men are generally the more solitary creatures. So, in the interest of fairness here, is it really any wonder that once they are separated into individual homes alone with their kid(s) all day that they go "crazy?" They are living without the social support networks they evolved to need!

I always think/talk about how the way this culture is engineered is really bad for men, but I am starting to consider the possibility that it's bad for women as well. It's bad for all of us, I think. One day I'll stop being so lazy and really dig into this idea and post a detailed, cogent, thought out piece about it. I really think there's a lot about the way we are living that we need to rethink. I'm just so lazy.....damn culture's fault!

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Kids and Drugs II

In my experience as a father of a 5 year old daughter there's nothing in life that more poignantly exemplifies the notion of things in life being both immensely beneficial and seriously detrimental than does having a kid. I have previously written about the downsides of having a kid before so I will just summarize some of them in bulletpoint:

-Tremendous drain on time
-Tremendous drain on resources
--Seriously, the time drain. I have to say it again because "holy fuck can I just have 5 min. alone?" is a common thought
-Being woken up at 6:20am with the lights being turned on, a kid jumping on you, being asked to play, etc
-In a span of 3 hours you might be asked 100 questions
-You have to play the same kids games over and over and fake enthusiasm each time
-You have to consider another person and physically take them with you whenever you plan to do anything
-Dealing with things like tantrums, crying, screaming, shit, piss, puke, injuries, spills (constant spills at certain ages), etc
-Just having to constantly be "on-" You're a teacher, a mentor, a guard, a babysitter, a cook, a cleaner etc all day long

Now, all that aside, all that shit you hear about parenting being the greatest, most rewarding endeavour in the world is (mostly) true. There are moments between her and I that are truly the happiest and most endearing of any in this life and I sincerely mean that. The feelings that your little one can engender within you are far and away better, more intense and more satisfying than any you can experience elsewhere. It always sounded ridiculous to me when I was younger but now I find myself experiencing it: I will sometimes think about her and I will feel myself starting to tear up (or feel like I am close to it). She is the greatest, sweetest, brightest thing in my life and I am completely dedicated to doing the best job I can so as to allow her to become a self actualized, competent, happy, free spirited, inquisitive, motivated human (and in all honesty, so far so good, but not solely because of me; she plays a huge role in it herself).

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Here's What They Don't Tell You About Having Kids (And the Love you feel for them)

Parenting, on a day by day, minute to minute basis is a LOT of work, both physical and mental.

"Oh, I know that," you say.

Do you? Do you really know that?

Imagine being woken up at 6:20am by a fully energized kid ready to start the day off with a wrestling match, or a walk to the park when all you want to do is sleep (but you cannot) so you get up and you start the day. By 1pm you've already made breakfast for two, wrestled, done artwork, watched a kids tv show or two, played outside, cleaned 3 messes, made lunch for two, been asked 1000 questions and pulled in 1000 different directions and have had zero time to yourself. By 1pm you're already halfway to being wiped out but she's not going to be in bed until 8pm and her energy is endless.....btw, if you want to go to the grocery store, good luck. It will take 4 times as long as it would without a kid, unless you make them ride in the cart (and even then they will still find ways to annoy-try to escape, try to grab things off the shelf, ask for everything they see, etc.).

And this is when they are a bit more self sufficient. Take this and add crying/screaming/tantrums for toddlers. Now does doing that over and over sound like something you would want to subject yourself to? It's really not all that fun, at least quite often. It's mostly just tiring, draining work and internally you're just wishing for some time alone. I can see why a lot of parents retreat into their phones, although I HATE that they do it, because it hurts the kids.

Parenting makes you an entertainer, a cleaner, a cook, a boss, a role model, etc.

Those moments that everyone talks about, those "OMG AMAZING MOMENTS" like the "I love you's" and the kisses on the cheek, they are just that-moments. Moments surrounded by hours of work. Everyone points to these moments but neglects to mention the day to day drudgery.

A drug analogy really holds well here. In fact (and this is where I lose people) I believe the 'love' we feel for our children is, as is romantic love, just a chemically induced state (oxytocin, dopamine, serotonin) which we evolved to feel in order to keep us from either abandoning or killing the little buggers. Just think about it: How successful would we have been as a species if we DIDN'T feel that love feeling for the screaming little buggers? And so if this is true, the "love" that we all speak of to justify being a parent (seriously, other dads I talk to agree about what it's like but then invariably go to the "ya, but I love him/her/them and when they give you that random hug it's all worth it!") is actually the 'trick' if you will, that nature plays on us to keep us committed to the kids. We romanticize the shit out of what I believe to simply be an evolved trick of sorts.

Now, that all being said, as they age things change and it can become less one sided and more of a real friendship/relationship rather than just a worker/recipient situation. My daughter is now 5 and she is truly a kindhearted, intelligent, funny and fun kid and the feeling of things being "work" is much less frequent (and intense) as it used to be. Chunks of the day really have become less like work and more just hanging out and having an honestly good time. For example, we'll go on nature walks along the water or in a nearby forest and during times like that it's all exploration, inquisitiveness, appreciation and bonding between the two of us. She is getting much better behaved and so even going to the store has become less stressful (some days, some days I still want to kill her) and as long as you mediate your feelings, have an open heart, treat them well, etc you can have a good time.

But even then it's still a LOT of work and a total drain on your once free time, so potential parents should THINK HARD about the day to day realities rather than just the "aawww moments." Those "aww moments" are a high and the rest of the day is spent doing the drudgery no one really talks about when you mention wanting kids.

Monday, September 1, 2014

The Irony is, They Aren't Teaching Girls Equality

They're giving them a complex about it. My daughter (she's 5) sang this part of a song this weekend for the first time "boys can *insert whatever action* and girls can too!" So she'll skip along and sing "boys can skip and girls can too!" or "boys can jump and girls can too!" etc. I asked her where she learned this song and she said it was at school last year (SK, she starts grade 1 tomorrow, which seems insane but that's for another topic). Now, on the face of it, this seems like a great message to be sending little girls. And my initial though actually was in this vein "oh, cool, they start early with the equality now, that's good." Something to that effect. I mean, a main focus of my parenting style is to avoid limiting her; encourage her interests and objects of curiosity- never repress them.

Not long after this though, my (fuckin unstoppable and often annoying) need to question goddamn fucking everything woke up from its nap and started the process. It's tentative conclusion? That this might be doing less teaching about equality and more introducing the idea of gender inequality, leading to an immediate (and gender wide) inferiority complex. The central question here then, if my goal is to find out if I am on the right track or not, is simply is there an inherent, ingrained idea of gender inequality amongst young children which necessitates this kind of teaching, or does the post feminism practise of teaching equality from a young age actually just introduce the idea of inequality in them and do the opposite of what it tries to?

What do you think?

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Parenting Rules To Live By

My daughter is five. Here's a list of some of my parenting rules: (I try to stick to them as much as possible)

-If she gets dramatic/emotional to manipulate me into doing something, a) do not do it for her; b) call her out on it (with humour).
-No yelling or "spanking." There's no lesson that needs to be bullied into a kid in order to reach them.
-Say no but say it when it matters so it's not a pointless word that just starts battles.
-Think about her as a person. Empathize. Remember her age, remember her brain's limits. Don't just expect her not to be who she is because it's inconvenient or makes it hard for me to have control. Cut ego OUT as much as possible.
-Wrestle/playfight often. Don't go easy on her the whole time. Let her have some wins but mix in some moments of high challenge (build self confidence, teach her to overcome obstacles and stay persistent, increased physical strength and capabilities, exercise, bonding).
-Share jokes, and ask her opinion on things.
-Have fun
-Do things outside. Be in nature. Explore.
-Don't say no to things just because I, as an adult, no longer enjoy them. She's a kid, not an adult. If she wants to jump in a puddle, LET HER. Her shoes get wet, oh no! They'll dry, and she'll have a great childhood moment. Or, just have her take her shoes off. Think outside the box
-Like I said, think outside the box
-Question things, and have her do the same
-Try to show more than tell
-Share my love of learning and my awe of (and passion for knowing) the universe
-Engage her in things.
-Challenge her. Mentally and physically
-If she asks me to get her something for no reason other than laziness, decline. She can do it herself.
-If she tries to get something making sexy poses, point it out to her, and then ask her if perhaps there might be a better way. Never indulge it, but never shame her either. She did not choose her animal nature, so don't make her pay for it.
-If she falls, know the difference between real hurt and not so real. Attend to the first, handle the second with amusement and try to bring her into that frame. End result: hopefully she laughs off the not so bad ones instead of sits there vying for attention. (By the way, it worked. She "walks it off" and we talk/laugh about it or just keep playing. If she is really hurt I immediately know the difference and giver her the hugs and soothing that she needs.)
-TV isn't the end of the world, but don't have her in front of it for hours and hours either

That's good for now.

My goal is to have a confident, open minded, critical thinking daughter who isn't ashamed of her sexuality but doesn't wield it like a weapon. Ditto her emotions. It would be nice if she worked through problems, had some measure of self reliance and autonomy, and didn't just cry on facebook when something mild goes wrong. Nice, caring and empathetic but not a pushover and physically capable. Just an all around cool chick. Possible? I dunno. Signs are promising. She's a badass five year old. Then again she's only five. Grade one starts next month and along with it a year's worth of other kids and their influences. And those influences only grow with each passing year. For now I just do what I can.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Cell Phone And The Parent

The other day I was walking my dog through a park when I witnessed a scene that, far from being uncommon, is unfortunately repeated all across the world each and every day. A father (and I use that term loosely) was sitting on one of the park benches while his daughter, who seemed to be about 5 years of age, played on the playground. The entire time I was there the dad was on his cell phone (probably texting a girl), looking up only when his daughter would call out to him, asking him to watch whatever trick (in her mind they were tricks) she was about to do. And even then his glances were perfunctory; devoid of any emotion or attention.

Seeing this filled me with a potent mix of pity and anger. Pity for the girl (just imagine what kind of message her father's averted gaze sends her) and anger towards the man who is spending once in a lifetime moments with his daughter being distracted by his phone.

Those scenes sure would have made for an interesting home video. I should have offered to film it for him.