I’m about to direct you to the best parenting instructions ever. I mean, these instructions won’t change your life, and whatever parenting struggles you have now you’ll still have after reading it. But read it anyway, because the best thing we parents can ever be reminded of — and we should promise to remind each other of this every now and then — is that kids are supposed to do that, and you’re not the only one this is happening to.
Writing for Deadspin, Drew Magary shares the nine things he learned at what he calls “Shitty Parents Anonymous,” a fancy parenting class in D.C. Best of all, he reveals that even the parenting “experts” suck at this stuff. So that’s really kind of good news.
Here are my three favorite bits from a really great list. Caution: his language is salty so this is an opt-in kind of thing:
Never repeat yourself.
The second you repeat yourself, you’re dead. The kid will just be like, “Hey, I can just sit here and dad will say the same shit over and over again. COOL.” Kids think this way because they’re evil. Say it once. If the kids don’t act, take them by the hand and guide them to their task. This piece of advice caused me to ask a question:
ME: What if your kid is naked on the floor and screaming her fucking head off and you literally can’t take her by the hand and guide her to the sink to brush her teeth?
Accept that your children are going to do annoying shit.
We were told there was a list out there that detailed typical behaviors for children based upon their age. Two-year-olds will throw things. Five-year-olds will break things. There are certain annoying facets of children that are simply the cost of doing business, and accepting that makes it a little bit easier to tolerate it when your kid is spitting in your goddamn ear.
The only person you really have any control over is yourself.
That’s pretty much the beginning and end of this. There’s only so much you can control with your kids, and it’s best to praise them when they do what you want instead of berating them for the times when they fail to act. You’re never gonna get them to do everything you want at all times. They aren’t programmed that way (even though they ought to be). You have to learn to tolerate some of their bullshit, and then be firm and friendly in the face of extraordinary rebellion. It isn’t easy, and I’m probably gonna have to take a lot more classes just to fail less. But trying is the most important part. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go tell my kid to stop throwing baseballs at the TV set.
I feel like a better parent already.