Hindsight is a wonderful thing.
It’s also a mandatory part of the 'parenting package'*.
That is, once a parent you quickly realise there’s plenty of stuff you’d choose to do differently given the chance.
For me it’d be less worrying, less Googling and more napping during the day.
But for blogger Kate Forster, a mum of two adult kids, the list is naturally much longer.
In a recent post, Kate came up with 29 parenting dos and don’ts, to help us avoid becoming “dickhead parents".
Kate writes: “As I get older, I see what made a difference and what didn’t, where I wasted energy and where I was right to remind them to push a little harder in their own life. This is also based on watching other kids and their families, and the ones who have taken refuge in our house away from their dickhead parents. I have had several children here, so I get it.”
Here's the list that Kate refers to as her 'Parenting 101':
- Don't be a Tiger Parent. Don't demand they practise until they hate the thing they're learning. Just because you didn't get to learn the violin doesn't mean they want to. They will hate it and you in equal parts in the future and hold it against you. Start saving for therapy now if you continue this.
- Don't push them at school. Get them to pass and teach work ethic. My kid just passed her final year but focussed on her passions. She is now going to graduate with a double degree and is starting her Masters in what she loved since she was small.
- Don't go away on holidays for weeks on end and leave them behind. I'm not talking about a weekend away and they get spoiled while staying with beloved grandparents or rellies. I'm talking four weeks in Europe and they're stuck with a nanny. They remember. This will come up in therapy. It's called abandonment and it's gonna bite you in the bum one day, hard. Real hard. Keep adding to the therapy fund if you keep doing this too often.
- Don't lecture your kids about not drinking when you drink every night in front of them.
- Don't tell your kids to not try drugs. They will. You can't stop them. Educate them about safe choices instead.
- Tell them to have sex when they're ready when they feel really okay with it, and not before. Give them the power, and they will make the best decision for them, based on their feelings and self-knowledge.
- Teach them to laugh at themselves more than they laugh at others.
- Teach them self-awareness. Really. Stop with the selfies so much kiddo.
- Don't worry about the Grade 2 teacher. Ten years later and you won't remember their name.
- Help your kid find out what they're good at and build their interests and co-curricular activity around that.
- Ask them to try a food 10 times before they decide they hate it.
- Ask them to wait six months before they give up the instrument they are learning. If they still loathe it, then it's gone. My son said he wanted to give up guitar. We waited the six months and now he's studying it for his final year because he loves it so much.
- Being a kind person will get them further socially, than being smart.
- Tell them you enjoy parenting them, often and always. Don't make them feel like sh*t for being born. That was your decision, not theirs.
- Don't pay for them to go to a private school and then make them feel guilty about the fees. Again, that was your decision.
- Don't tell them you need "grown up time." That's a sh*tty thing to say. Find grown up time. You're a grown up.
- Answer every question as honestly as you can. Children remember the lies.
- Don't live through them. Let them shine on their own terms.
- Work. Especially if you're a woman. Show your children you are capable and able to earn your own money and that women contribute to the world also. If you aren't working, then tell them you used to work, and will work again and explain your time at home with them is your job, so they get that women do things and do them well.
- Spending quantity time with them is more important than quality time. No such thing. They don't remember the 'special' time. They just remember the time. The gaps of you not being there create anxiety and they turn on each other. Be present.
- Tell them you love them, even when you don't like their behaviour.
- Saying no is good when it is going to protect them from themselves.
- Don't f*ck around with mental health. Remind them that there isn't a problem in the world that can't be solved and that everything passes. Today's gossip will be replaced by something else at school tomorrow. Lie in bed with them all night if you're worried. Stroke their hair, tell them stories about when they were little and how loved they are, tell them about when you were pregnant with them. Remind them they are wanted and loved and that they can and will survive what is happening.
- Ask them about pop culture and things you don't get. Find out about their lives and what is in it. Don't dismiss it because you don't get it. Learn their language, enter their world, and they will enjoy teaching you about it all.
- Laugh at yourself and often.
- Say sorry for when you are a sh*t parent. It matters to them. It also teaches them how to apologise to others.
- Don't tell your kids they owe you because you feed and clothe them. You're supposed to do that, you absolute idiot. You don't get respect for doing the bare minimum!
- If your kid hates you, you caused that. Sorry, but you did. Sort it out, now!
- Don't invalidate their feelings. To not have your feelings heard and recognised is a form of child abuse. If they are upset, acknowledge it first, then respond.
* The unexpected onslaught of life lessons you're served upon leaving the labour ward.
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