There are tons of books and blogs and forums and lunchgroups and tv shows dedicated to telling you how to raise your child, and anyone who’s spent any amount of time raising a child knows that 97% of what they tell you is subjective at best, if not utter crap. Every kid is more-or-less a snowflake, and there is really no right way to raise them except the way that works for you.
Parenting, like medicine, is something we forever practice and never really perfect. You feel your way through all the different strategies those before you came up with and sometimes you find a fit, sometimes you have to find your own way.
There are precious few universal truths in this game called parenting, aside from love them with everything you have and try really hard to do better than was done to you. However, along the way, you sometimes get bits of really solid, helpful advice mixed in with the soapy water everyone will offer you.
Below are the three that have saved my butt over the years.
They will eat when they are hungry. Sometimes, kids just don’t eat. It may be the single most frustrating thing about parenting. I know people who will bribe their kids to eat, threaten them to eat, bargain with them to eat. I personally like to save those tactics for getting my kids to give me backrubs.
When your toddler is little and refuses to eat you know without a doubt that you’ve failed as a parent and they will never, ever respect your authority as the keeper of their well-being. When your child is five years old and doesn’t eat you check the bank account because you know you’re about to have to buy a new wardrobe for that kid in a few weeks. Kids sleep when they grow – and they don’t really eat all that much. And that’s okay. Ultimately, a kid will eat when he’s hungry, and when he’s not…he won’t.
If I see you in public and your baby looks more put-together than you do, we are having words. My pediatrician said that to me at my first son’s three-month check-up, with a look on his face that let me know he wasn’t joking. I am 98% sure that my son was perfectly coordinated that day and I was in my husband’s college sweatpants.
There may or may not have been a scrunchie involved.
He told me that it was my job to strap the baby in his bouncy and take a shower every. single. day. and put on some real clothes. He reminded me that the baby had survived 41 1/2 weeks strapped to my uterus just fine. He explained to me, maybe for the first time in my life, that I can’t take care of anyone else until I take care of myself. And you know what? HE WAS TOTALLY RIGHT. 13 years later, I still double-check every time I walk out the door to make sure that I look presentable enough to not get yelled at if he sees me.
Head wounds bleed. My mother in law is not my biggest fan. She never had much to say to me about having children, even though they were her grandchildren. She kind of just sat back and waited for me to screw everything up, but she did say this one thing to me when my first child was born, and it ultimately turned out to be the single most useful thing everyone else forget to tell me about raising kids. Head wounds bleed.
They don’t just bleed, they bleed like the floodgates of the Nile opened up in your precious child’s skull. The blood that comes from a headwound is always completely disproportionate to the injury and always absolutely terrifying for a parent to see, if you don’t know it’s coming. Arm yourself with the knowledge that it’s coming so the first time you walk into a gymnastics center and are able to follow the trail of blood smears back to where they’re holding your future trampoline gold medalist, you won’t pass out before you can get to your kid and kiss his tears away.
What about you? What are some of the *actually useful* parenting tips you’ve received or learned?