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Saturday, 21 October 2006



Swinging in the wind. That's the best way to describe new parents. There are so many things nobody tells you during those birthin' a baby classes. How hard would it be to form classes that actually covered some topics beyond feeding the freakin' thing?

Because each child is his or her own person, we can't really do that. Were they just robots built and programmed according to spec, a user's manual would be no problem. One kid might absolutely love sitting still for bedtime stories; another might hate it. Or, and this is the fun part, a kid might hate it one night and love it the next.

I'm right there with you on everything you said. It's a credit to us that we contemplate any of this. The men who never do give us all a bad name.

We, too, waited until we were older to have kids. We wife and I married young (19 and 21, respectively), but not until I was 32 did she squeeze out our little one (that's completely the right term for it).

You ever notice that kids raised by their grandparents always seem to be the most well-adjusted, nicest kids? Maybe that's because they didn't have young, impatient, hormone-enraged parents yelling when they shouldn't have and following to the extreme the advice, "make the child fit into your life, not the other way around." Unfortunately, that last often turns into, "dump them onto your parents any time you get invited to a party." Man, the sacrifices I've seen some grandparents make so that their children can remain children after becoming parents. Blows my mind.


I feel an extremely interesting and thought-provoking commentary coming on. I'm just going to read awhile before I comment. It would be pages long... If I wait a bit, lots of people will say bits and pieces of what I want to say. Call me an old and tired parent (who's very proud of two great kids and 2 1/2 equally great grandkids) with lots of hindsight to share...


Sometimes it is possible to over think things. One thing my mother always told Pat and I was to trust our instincts in these things. Oh, and then there was the whole, "why not?" question. So maybe there's a balance to be struck.


You talk about worrying about excess rigidity when they're so young. Kids need boundaries and NOT to be in charge (it promotes all sorts of anxious behaviour otherwise). One of the best things we did was give the kids smaller choices within a finite number of choices (e.g. which of these three shirts do you want to wear today. It usually halts the escalation of the battle over getting dressed at all). Give them a voice, but ultimately, the big decisions and parameters are clearly yours. Not only do the kids learn to think instead of react, so do the parents.

Oops, I guess this counts as "what may have been suggested by those more aged and experienced". Feel free to know it all already ;).


I think you hit the nail on the head with the following statement: "...it would surely suck if we failed to do something for fear of it being the wrong thing. Inaction can be no less a bad thing than a bad action."

I think the men that grow up to be problems are those whose parent failed to act, not those who chose the "bad action." What I mean is, barring th obvious horrible things parents can do that you guys would never think of in a gazillion years (i.e. abuse), there are no "bad actions". As long as each decision is taken with thought, compassion and love, even if it wasn't ideal, it was a good decision.

Also, as for why our Western culture sucks at raising kids now, I read a great book recently that had a comment about that. Not sure if I wrote it here already, but the gist was that since WWI (or was it WWII?), people started settling father and farther away from their families, for jobs, opportunities, whatever. So the info and help that parents got from their parents was no longer as readily available. That's when psychologists and books started taking over. People were looking for help. The problem is, all those theories are just that, theories. Do those people even have kids? Were they active in raising them? No one really knows, and yet, people are so desperate, they are willing to put their children's futures into their hands.

I'm not trying to say they're all quacks. I use the books too. But it says something about our society nonetheless.


I was right...this is a good discussion. It's amazing to me that The Farm seems to attract such intelligent parents.
I always found a good and simple rule of thumb to be this: Raise children with a good balance of head and heart, always a little heavier on the heart side. The monkey wrench in the whole parenting thing is that if you're doing the right thing, it probably hurts a bit. (You more than them...) Watching children learn for themselves is one of the hardest things you'll ever do. I promise you that. And definitely, doing nothing is way more detrimental than doing the "wrong" thing... One of the best things you can do for your kids is to let them see that you are human and flawed.


I have to agree that the way we raise kids in this western world is horribly isolating. Every couple winds up reinventing the wheel. My take, now that I'm basically done, is that compassion is the thing to be taught. Compassion and respect. I think that a child who understands that his feelings are respected, even if you can't honor his requests, will in turn learn to respect the feelings of others. I found that with little boys in particular, people tend to be a bit cruel, as though boys have no feelings. Adults are, in general, kinder to girls.

Anyway, my advice is to just pay attention to the present moment and the future will take care of itself. Unruly and difficult boys often make for easy teens, and angelic ones vice versa.

Also, if you make a judgment call that you later, be in a minute, an hour or a week, decide was wrong, or harsh -- apologize to your children. That's how they learn that it's okay to change your mind, and to apologize for normal human weakness.

Lynn S

The first time I heard the line, "It takes a village to raise a child," I thought, 'the village just needs to mind its own damn business,' and now that my boys are 26 and 22 and doing fine thank you very much, I still feel the same way. Sure there were times we could have used some help from "the village" but we never got it. All we got was bad advice from people who thought they new all about us but didn't.

Too many people give advice and opinions on child-rearing as if they think a child is a blank sheet of paper and a parent has merely to write on it whatever kind of person they want their child to be but it's not that simple. Each child is born an individual with his own mind. You do influence your children but does everyone else they come into contact with. A teenager is an unfinished adult. If your teenager behaves badly it's not your fault, no matter what anyone else says. But in a few years the teenage years will be over and you'll wonder what all the fuss was about.

Ignore most of the advice you get, don't worry too much and just sit back and enjoy the ride. It'll be over way too soon.

Lynn S

GRRR... I hate when I make stupid errors.


I'd agree with Lynn S. Sure, it would be nice if my mum was younger and more physically able (she's in her 80's) to babysit my daughter every now and then, and teach her stuff - but then it's nice not to have to dodge unwanted advice and undo new bad habits too.

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