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Immaculate Suggestions: Taking Parenting Advice from the Childless

31 May

No one wants my parenting advice. But like just about everyone else, I won’t stop giving it. The difference is, where most people celebrate their “expertise,” I revel in my ignorance.

I’ve had an advice section for a few weeks now, a page where I can field your question, queries, queests about how to best raise your kids. The difference between me and most advice columnists is that I don’t pretend to be an authority; I admit I don’t know shit about parenting. But at least I have kid.

Those people that don’t even have kids but insist on telling you how to handle yours? Wow.

Those Other Parents I often bitch about are obnoxious because they come from a place of superiority. A misguided and sad place, but a superior one just the same. They think that what’s right for their kid is right for everyone’s. And while they are 100% wrong about their specific experience being the one true template for the entire world of parenting, I can understand where they’re coming from.

Those people whose only experience with raising kids is borrowing a family member’s kids for a weekend of aquarium visits and movies and swimming and hot dogs and think they’ve got the hang of it? A weekend does not a parent make. Trust me.

Oh, he was a delight when you took him on a field trip and gave him whatever he wanted and tired him out with tons of fun? I’m shocked! And he listened to you that one time you told him to come here and stop whatever he was doing? WOW. YOU SHOULD HAVE KIDS RIGHT NOW BECAUSE YOU’RE AMAZING AT IT!

It’s adorable when the childless share all their plans for how they’ll raise their kids should they eventually have them. I had similar ideas, once… What’s that they say about best laid plans? I think it’s something like: keep them to yourself you fucking idiot.

Being a parent isn’t about weekends or holidays or popping in once a while to take the kid on a field trip. It’s about weathering moods that neither you nor the person having the mood understands. It’s about thinking you’ve gained some ground, thinking you’ve made progress in one of your countless battles only to get beaten back the next day.

It’s that happy Wednesday when your kid finally eats the macaroni and cheese and you’ve finally solved dinner by finding something he likes!, followed by that Thursday when he throws that same mac and cheese in your face. It’s one step forward and two steps back; it’s not one step forward and then drop the kid back at your brother’s house.

It’s not a sprint, or even a marathon. It’s a decathalon, followed by a biathalon and then a triathalon, rinse, repeat, then run the American Gladiators obstacle course. And that’s when you only have onekid to raise.

I have no problem with people who don’t have kids. In fact, I sometimes envy them those people who choose not to, especially if they can get their fix – or maybe some validation of their choice not to procreate – by borrowing someone else’s every once in a while. But listening to them tell me how to raise my son is like me giving them pointers on the dating scene. Any advice I might have is totally irrelevant. As my brother likes to remind me: I have a kid, it’s over for me.

And if you, childless friend, keep insisting that you know better – one guy even clued us in on how to handle our occasionally unruly toddler (“they don’t understand talk, they understand action.”) – it will soon be over for you too.

Because you’ll be babysitting during our two-week trip to Europe. Thanks!

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One Response to “Immaculate Suggestions: Taking Parenting Advice from the Childless”

  1. RobJules May 31, 2012 at 2:25 pm #

    If it helps, as you know I don’t have any kids, at least any I’ve been told about, and it’s essentially over for me as well.

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