Raising kids properly. I’ve always said there are three requirements for successfully raising children. If they are happy, healthy, and educated then you’re doing it right. Naturally, it’s nearly impossible to hit on three counts all the time. Kids get cranky. Kids get sick. Sometimes we redefine what educating our children means. We have no curriculum, after all. So we make forward progress, always trying.
Raising happy kids is a tricky business. On one hand you want to spend your day with them, bending to their will. However, we know in the long run that won’t make them truly happy. When it comes time for them to be on their own they will flounder, lost without our help. So we need to balance bending to their will with allowing them to figure it out on their own. Whether it’s entertaining themselves or working independently or problem solving, they need to try it by themselves first. A couple years ago I heard a parent being described as a “snow plow” parent. I’d heard of crunchy parents, helicopter parents, tiger parents. A snow plow parent is one who pushed aside and solves all their children’s problems. Didn’t get the grade? Parents talk to the teachers. Didn’t make the team? Parents talk to the coaches. Didn’t get the job? Parents talk to the boss. It’ll make your kid happy now, but in the long run they won’t know how to handle disappointment and failure. So we walk the tight rope trying to balance what our kids need with what they want.
Another factor in their happiness is attention. There’s much to be said for positive attention. When you praise your kids for doing good, even if it’s something they do all the time, they start looking for more positive ways to be recognized. I know this, yet I still find myself nagging and barking at them for doing wrong. Attention is attention for them, positive or negative. I’m now working on catching them being good and verbally recognizing it. It’s making a difference.
Keeping them healthy is an entirely different issue. They’re going to sick at some point. Once they start trading germs like Pokemon cards it’s inevitable. Good parents nurse them back to health. Crazy parents wish they could take their child’s place in the sickbed and be sick for them. Hell no. Parenting is hard enough. We don’t need to be handicapped in parenting with the flu. Let them be sick and get your extra snuggles. Give them extra screen time and extra juice boxes.
Keeping them healthy also means feeding them properly. Real food. I know not everyone enjoys the kitchen as much as I do, but it doesn’t take much effort to make real food. Of course, there are cheat days when you don’t have the time, the energy, or the desire to make a meal so you throw in a frozen pizza, or nuggets, or whatever is easiest. Real food is a great way to save money, too. It’s cheaper to make a meal for four than it is to buy a meal for four. Plus you get leftovers. Unless it’s fish. We don’t eat leftover fish.
Keep ’em happy. Keep ’em healthy. The rest will fall into place.