Parenting doesn’t come with a handbook or a certification course. In fact, for some people, myself included; it comes unexpectedly, without a plan, before you are ready and while you are really just too young to know better. Therefore, you take ques and techniques from your own history, from people you admire, from articles and parenting help books and you wing it. You do the best you can with what you have in your tool box. And if you are loving your child and doing the best you can; that is all anyone can do.

There is often no right or wrong to a parenting decision. I mean clearly, you shouldn’t beat your kid into a comma… or let your five year old smoke cigarettes (or dope), or drink whiskey. And if you are doing any of those things, you are doing it wrong and you need help. Seriously.

However, the minutia… for instance when you should potty train, or if your child should play an instrument, or be a scout, or when you should buy them a cell phone, or have the “sex” talk; that stuff doesn’t have a right or a wrong. It has a comfort level in your family and with your child. Even within your family, every child will be different. Trust me. So how you handle a situation with one could be, and likely should be, completely different from one to the next. And when they call you on the differences, and they will… trust me… the response is:

Life. Is. Not. Fair. Get over it. If they get caught up in the keeping score game now, it will serve them terribly at work, in their marriage and in life overall.

As we make our way through the parenting land mine of decisions, most of us end up comparing ourselves to other families in our efforts to be the best parents we can be. Too many of us do this instead of trusting our gut intuitions. And frankly, I totally understand that. This is a BIG job with A LOT of responsibility and very little training. So, it can be totally nerve wracking. Sometimes we do need to look to others for guidance. However, you can’t get caught up in comparisons. There is a huge difference between seeking guidance and comparing yourself to others. Observing others you admire and borrowing from their playbook is fine. Chastising yourself because you think someone else does it better, or trying to be exactly like some crazy ideal you think is “right,” is not okay.

Comparisons and unreasonable ideals will drive you crazy and probably result in you making the wrong decision for you and for your child. Besides, as you make comparisons you have to realize; you have no clue what goes on behind closed doors. Think of magazine cover models. After the pro make-up job, the perfect lighting and angles; they still airbrush the hell out of that shit before they put it to print. And, just like that… most people’s external life is airbrushed for public consumption. Heck, FaceBook is nothing more than a highlight reel. So don’t compare your reality to other people’s highlight real.

Furthermore, aside from the aforementioned totally WRONG parenting techniques, (i.e. cigarettes, dope, whiskey & beatings for your minor child), you are not allowed to judge other people’s parenting. If their style isn’t yours… well exactly! It isn’t yours. Good. Whatever. Move it along. Nothing to see here.

There is only one judge and it is God. He’ll sort us all out in the end and meanwhile, you don’t get to. And here is where you can tell I’ve done one too many P90x work outs: “Just do your best and forget the rest.” – Tony Horton

There are times you will absolutely second guess yourself. There are times you’ll make decisions that don’t work out the way you’d hoped. Rules will be broken. Rules will not work. Rules will need to be refined and perfected. There will be times you owe your child an apology. That is a wonderful moment because you get to teach them how to say, “I was wrong. I’m sorry. Will you forgive me.” Gosh wouldn’t it be great if the next generation actually knew how to say those words? I do not know many people in my generation that say those words at all, and if they do, most look like a cat hawking up a nasty fur ball.

There will also be times that you owe yourself an apology. Maybe it’s right now. Forgive yourself your failures. Learn from them. Move on. Tomorrow is a new day.

The 5 Love Languages of Children

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Secrets of the Baby Whisperer
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