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Sunday
Oct162011

DON'T ASK. DON'T TELL: HELPING NEW DADS DEAL WITH A WORLD OF UNSOLICITED ADVICE

As a new parent, there are many cliches I don't have the time for these days. For instance, "think outside the box" or "it's the thought that counts"- if people actually believed these sayings I'd never feel obligated to ever buy anyone a gift ever again; but they don't. They are just sayings. They are just empty catch phrases that people use, having no clue what they really mean. Another one I'm not too fond of is the whole "it takes a village to raise a child" concept." I don't much care for this idea that a child is raised by an entire society. And, I'll tell you why...

As a parent, the belief that it takes a village to raise YOUR child simply opens your personal parenting philosophy open to criticism by family, friends, and the world at large. Why is it that other people think they have the right to tell you how to raise YOUR child? Why do "experts" and novices alike think they can tell YOU, the parent, how to raise your offspring? Sure, there are cases where some children are severely neglected, and I advocate someone stepping in to help them under those circumstances, but what about the rest of us, raising happy, healthy kids quite well without any help from anyone? What's some one's excuse for contradicting our preferred modes of parenting?

Apparently, adding your two cents and giving your opinion (when it is not asked for) to parents with young children is a global disease. It starts locally at family get-togethers with everyone around the table either telling you that you're a bad parent by chiming in every time your child does something they deem inappropriate and correcting YOUR child themselves, or asking if they can try to calm the little one, as if their futile attempts will work any better than yours.

Auntie Em: "Oh, what's wrong Billy? Why are you crying? Here Daddy, let me try to calm him down. I have the magic touch for these things."

You:  "Okay...so you've got the magic touch to run home to my house, get his favorite water bottle, the one with the built-in straw, that I forgot, and get it back here within the next three minutes before he calms down naturally on his own? Yeah,  I thought so. "

And that's just the beginning. Next, you have friends telling you how to raise your kids, scaring your wife in to rethinking her every move.

Your Wife: "Well, I'd like to buy these nipples for the baby but Cathy said this, and Anne said that, and Sally Anne said something else entirely. I'm so confused?"

You: "So I guess the pediatrician's not as smart as the three wise women that are raising the most neurotic kids in the state? I'll just wait over here... call me when your friends have made their decision."

And then it's the parenting magazines, the special interest groups (breastfeeding, positive parenting, natural parenting), the online parenting groups, the media, the government, the U.N.... where does it end? When does someone actually turn to you as a new parent and say: "just use your common sense,  listen to the advice of YOUR pediatrician, follow a parenting philosophy that works for you, and just tell everyone else to butt out?"

Oh, I guess I just did. But you can take that with a grain of salt. I'm not the one who has to raise your kids. I'm simply trying to raise my own without wanting to slap the hell out of everyone that thinks they know better simply because they had kids before me, or teach senior kindergarten, or run a daycare, or raised me and my three brothers, or wrote a book based on empirical evidence. To them I say "go away," you're making something that should be very simple and natural a lot more complex than it has to be, simply because you THINK you know better. Well maybe you can THINK to change my daughter's diaper the next time I leave her with you for six hours so I don't get her back with a raw diaper rash. That would be nice.

Let's start with the basics before we judge others, shall we?

All parents are entitled to raise their kids as they see fit (within the law). There's a line people. Try not to cross it.

Source: "Dexter"

Disclaimer: All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. In no way have I made reference to my wife, my mother-in-law,  my own mother, or my wife's friends in a derogatory way, as that would just be stupid. This blog post has been written for your entertainment. Anything you learn from it it also coincidental.

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