Monday, April 21, 2014

3 Things I Know About Raising Children

If you've been reading here long, you know that part of my schtick is pretending that I know all there is to know about everything.  That I am, in fact, Granny The Great and All-Knowing (and Fabulosa!)

It's simply not true.  I don't know everything about everything.  I humbly admit that I am only completely positive and 100% right about several things!  Well...  at least I'm pretty sure about several things.  So, listen to Granny, children.  She figured out a bunch of stuff the hard way so you don't have to.

Here is an example of a battle worth winning:  "Fasten that seatbelt, kiddo, or we're not going."  In this situation, there are only two acceptable outcomes:  either the kid complies, or you drag him out of the car and back into the house without further discussion.  Backing down is not an acceptable outcome -- and not only for the safety factor in this example --  because any time you engage your child in battle and let her win, it puts your parental authority in jeopardy.  So I don't care how anxious you are to get to the store/restaurant/emergency room or how tired you are of arguing.  When it matters you must demonstrate that you mean business.  Swiftly and decisively.  Accept no refusal, no negotiation, no argument.  Period.

Here is an example of what shouldn't be a battle to begin with:  "You have a bookcase, sweetie, so why are you stacking all your books on the floor?  You like it that way?  Well, I think they look much nicer in the bookcase, but okay ..."  Kids should be allowed some preferences because that tells them that what they think matters.  Kids should be allowed to try kooky things so they can learn how the world works.  So when something doesn't really matter, loosen up a little.  Choose your battles.

Don't joke, exaggerate or spew empty threats lest you end up teaching your kids not to believe you.  In time they may become accustomed to rejecting whatever you say.  

For instance, never tell a kid something like, "Touch that again, and I will break your fingers!"  You know you wouldn't really break your kid's fingers, but to the child who hears that, only one of two things can be true:
  1. Mommy is a monster who might break my fingers.  Or...
  2. Mommy is a liar.
Which of these do you prefer?  Of course you said neither!  I knew you would, but you do see my point.

Any time you feel yourself on the verge of issuing some kind of ultimatum, stop, take a deep breath, and ask yourself what you are actually willing to do about the situation, because once you proclaim it, you are stuck with it.  The good news is, when you follow through consistently and fairly, your child learns a couple of valuable lessons:

  1. Mommy means what she says.  And...
  2. My actions and decisions have consequences.

My generation really screwed up.

In every generation leading up to mine, mothers and fathers worked and sacrificed so their children would have better lives.  So their children would be safer and healthier, so they would have a better education and more choices, in essence so they would be better.

My generation worked and sacrificed so our children would have better.  Nicer clothes, better cars, nifty gadgets, tons of activities, more entertainment, and less requirement to work and sacrifice for themselves.  In the process we cheated our children.  Maybe even crippled their spirits.

Look, I don't cherish my memories of the hardships I endured as a kid or my struggles as a striving young adult -- but those things made me strong.  So, yes, cherish and protect your children.  Yes, help them achieve their dreams.  But, no, don't hand them everything they want on the proverbial silver platter because

  1. We tend not to appreciate what we don't have to work for.  Think about the literal meaning of "taking for granted."  
  2. Anyone who has too much is grateful for nothing.  I have yet to meet a happy ingrate.  Don't cultivate ingratitude in your kids.

You may disagree with anything I've said here, but I think we can agree that raising a child is the most worthy endeavor any of us is likely to pursue.  It's also the most satisfying and joyful.  I'm pretty sure about that.


  1. This is brilliant!! My boys are grown men now but I always had a huge dislike for the 'we're all winers' attitudes some schools and parents would cultivate. That is so not how life works!

  2. Such a cute article! I don't have any kids so this was some great tips for when I have one!


  3. Love this - such simple but very true advice! Have a great day :)

  4. Really enjoyed the post ... spot on. I'm a Nana Fabuloso who is enjoying watching my two girls raise their children now. I think I will send this to both of them because they always take what someone else says more seriously and besides, you said it so well. Thanks!

    1. Ha! Ha! Isn't that just the way it goes... while you're at it, send it to my kids, too! :) Thanks for visiting! It's always great to hear from another fabulous granny!

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