This Week in Parenting is intended to be a weekly look at parenting talk around the web, amongst the DMD community, and occasionally, just stuff I’m dealing with around the house. The language is occasionally strong and the opinions reflect only the author. Let’s dig in. 

Strong-Willed Children, AKA: Possession-Prone Toddlers

This is not my kid. My kid would have made a run for it.
This is not my kid. My kid would have made a run for it.

My son hasn’t technically reached the “Terrible Twos” yet, but he’s somewhat advanced, both physically and mentally. That isn’t bragging; most of you will recognize right away that there isn’t anything good about that. My wife and I–and everyone, really–started experiencing his routine freakouts a good four months early, well before he could effectively communicate what he wants. He can climb up and jump on anything, but he isn’t far enough along to take a safe fall. He can run, and he prefers to do it in the Walmart parking lot. We recently tried to have dinner at Nana’s house a little earlier in the day than I guess his highness was expecting, and that tantrum only stopped when I carried him out of the house slung over my shoulder like Santa’s sack.

Shortly after we left, Nana very sweetly sent me a word of encouragement and an article about how strong-willed kids are often destined for greatness. Regardless of your thoughts on the actual advice therein, the post does a great job of putting this phase in a positive light, which I appreciate.

Except…

If they’re allowed to choose, [strong-willed kids] love to cooperate. If this bothers you because you think obedience is an important quality, I’d ask you to reconsider. Of course you want to raise a responsible, considerate, cooperative child who does the right thing, even when it’s hard. But that doesn’t imply obedience. That implies doing the right thing because you want to.

I know I’m not about to win a Pulitzer here, but I actually do want my son to obey my instructions immediately. There are concrete scenarios where heeding my guidance could save his life–many involving actual concrete. If my son is addressing the United Nations one day and I yell “WILLIAM! SIT DOWN!” I want to see him hit the deck.

Participation Trophies

You win. Congratulations.
You win. Congratulations.

This discussion is taking place this week because it’s taking place every week and will forever, especially among dads. One group wants to focus on fun and reject the hyper-competitive trends of some youth sports, and the other group wants the game to teach their kids about life, improvement, and the reality of losing.

This is complicated for me. My son is still too young to worry about it, but I don’t have an issue with the idea of him playing soccer without keeping score to find out if he gives a crap about soccer at all. The next year it would be time to compete. You can bet I’ll talk to him frequently about doing his best, learning from people better than him, and losing with decorum when it all goes south.

But I suppose that’s just it: we can’t leave it up to a trophy–or the lack of one–to take advantage of teaching opportunities for our kids. It seems to me we have the ability to make sure our kids benefit from league sports, no matter the rules or non-competitive friendship guidelines.

If they don’t like their coaches, great! I can’t think of any more important life lesson than performing well under the instruction of someone you don’t respect.

Politics

Which is a shame. I didn't always.
Which is a shame. I didn’t always.

I hate that I even have to write on this topic.

Probably against our better judgement, my wife and I are active in a Facebook group made up of residents in our subdivision. It’s helpful when someone’s dog gets out of the gate or trash pickup has been changed because of a holiday.

What’s not helpful is when someone gives a heads up about a guy knocking on doors late at night for a specific state representative hopeful, my wife says “Thanks. We have a kid sleeping and this is very frustrating,” and some douchebag pipes up about “Well a little inconvenience is worth it. You should listen to him and go vote for him. I hope he gets elected!”

Without digging too far into the fact that good votes are not based on door knocks, the rest of the post went the way you’d expect–total chaos. It’s remarkable how willing our neighbors suddenly were to say completely shitty things to one another.

On the grander scale, and more than any time in my short life, politics have obliterated our relationships with friends, relatives, and pushed us that much further from total strangers, and that’s a hell of a lot more important than which candidate won. We all lost, without a doubt.

More importantly, we must adjust our behavior in front of our kids.

Whatever your beliefs, don’t let your kids hear you talking about how you’re scared for their lives, or how someone’s trying to keep you from protecting them, or how their future is in jeopardy. None of this is productive, and it’s coming from all parties. Let’s adult-up, explain to our kids what the latest round of elections and current events mean, and talk about how we move forward. Very few people are entirely pleased, but the more we focus our energy into the home and on the family, the less impact it has on us. Express some positivity about the future and talk to your kids about how they can make the most of it.

Attention

experimentThis post is making the rounds again. In short, the mom sits and watches her kids play, literally doing nothing but tallying each time they look at her–saying four different times that the number is 28. She then paints the world as a place interested only in Likes and Follows and begs us to put our phones down and hang out with our families. She did this…y’know…from her phone. Now, beside the point that this isn’t the first time I’ve seen a post just like this with a nearly identical photo from someone else (I wasn’t easily able to find it again on Google), people are starting to ask “Am I messing up by not staring at my kids?”

Well, if you don’t want your kid to act like Kanye, probably not.

It’s important that you remain involved with your kids. It’s crucial that you remain accessible to them, but the time that they spend playing and developing independently is absolutely vital. You’ll be hard-pressed to go to the parenting manuals and find anything about staring at your kids from a corner with a clipboard.

The post, of course, has been shared over 82,500 times, so it has ascended to Internet Facthood, regardless of any legitimate information I could provide to the contrary.

Christmas Trees

marveltreeI love the holidays. I love that parents are putting together thematic Christmas trees to get their kids excited and make the season more personal. It’s absolutely magical.

In a much more sarcastic sense, I love the crappy comments people make about it every chance they get.

“What does that have to do with the meaning of Christmas? No thanks!”

Hey asshole, no one was offering you anything.

This is the same kind of person who has to explain all of their Elf on a Shelf poses and then they still aren’t funny or interesting.

What’s the connection between Christmas and the fat white guy with his Alaskan/Canadian pets you were going to decorate with anyway? Go hang LEDs on a tree from the far northern hemisphere like baby Jesus did and try to relax. This is harsh, I know, but I have a hard time listening about the “true meaning of Christmas” in a comment crafted to steal someone’s joy.

But that’s none of my business.

Feel free to hit me up with topics for next week. I’m sure there will be more than enough to choose from. Until then, hang in there–they say it gets easier.

Photo Credit:
Completion of improvements at Murray Hil” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by North Charleston
tantrum” (CC BY 2.0) by T.O’R
ROK-US Friendship softball tournament” (CC BY 2.0) by USAG-Humphrey
I hate politics” (CC BY-ND 2.0) by jvumn
Experiment” by Brandie Johnson
Marvelous Christmas Tree” (CC BY 2.0) by JD Hancock