Some Thoughts on Enjoying Parenting

A few weeks ago, I put out a call on Twitter and on Facebook for detailed posts that people would like to see. I got enough great responses that I’m going to fill the entire month of July – one post per day – addressing these ideas.

On Twitter, Pinco shared this thought: “I love your articles about parenting. People enjoying parenting are hard to find, nowadays.”

I genuinely enjoy the process of parenting. I love teaching them new things. I love molding their behavior from the charming anarchists of toddlerhood into socially stable children. I love reveling in their crazy ideas for play. I love introducing them to new foods and new places and new experiences. I love encouraging them to refine their skills and watching as they try very hard to do just that. I love watching them assert their independence and handle tasks on their own. I even relish the harder tasks, like correction of behavioral problems.

I love all of these things.

Watch

At the same time, I don’t think everyone does love all of these things. I don’t think everyone is meant to. I think many people are swept away by a romantic idea of parenthood only to find that such a romantic view doesn’t match the reality of being a parent.

For some, the nonstop nature of parenting becomes a burden. They’re very good parents in bursts, but when it comes to the long slog, they beg for a break from it. Other parents are distracted by other interests. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen a child begging for the attention of a parent but that parent is distracted by work or by checking sports scores or by texting. Others have been molded into a state of seriousness by their careers and their earlier life so that it’s hard for them to relate to children. I have witnessed all of these things (possibly within the last week).

If you’re considering becoming a parent, I encourage you not to become a parent unless the following ideas really excite you.

Parenting of a child that will turn out well requires regular focus. That means turning off the cell phone and paying attention, even if what they’re saying or doing doesn’t match your personal interests. That means caring about the castles they’re trying to build out of blocks. That means understanding what the current challenges in their life are, who their friends are, and what they’re struggling with – all the time. If the intricacies of a castle that your five year old built out of blocks sounds much more dull than a night at the club, then stick with a night at the club. I’d rather hear about my daughter’s epic princess castle that she spent an hour building out of magnetic tiles.

It also requires being willing to talk to a young child. By talking, I don’t mean the cutesy “child talk” voice that people constantly get when they’re talking down to a child. I also don’t mean treating your five year old like your drinking buddy. I mean genuine conversation with children, where you listen to what they’re saying and respond to them seriously. My kids eat this up. They feel valued, they feel as though they can tell me what’s going on, and they know that I’m listening and that I care about what’s important to them. Children aren’t incompetents that you need to talk down to, nor are they your drinking buddies. They’re people with feelings and thoughts, and you’re one of the most important people in the world. Put yourself in a five year old’s shoes for a minute and imagine if your parents did nothing but talk child talk to you or else did nothing but treat you like a drinking buddy.

There’s also a requirement that you’re willing to abandon many of the habits of your previous life. I’ve dropped most of my hobbies and shrunk my social circle significantly (though it’s grown a bit as well as we’ve made friends with other parents) since becoming a parent. Guess what? You don’t have time for a lot of the things you used to have time for. At first, parents tend to just sleep less and try to maintain as much of their old life as possible. Eventually, that doesn’t work.

It’s easy for these things to seem like burdens. Here’s the thing, though: they’re only burdens if you don’t like what you’d be replacing these things with.

Face painting

On an average day before kids came along, I might go golfing with some buddies and out for drinks afterward. I might go out to the movies with my wife. I’d do some extra work in the evening. I might spend four hours laying in bed reading.

On an average day today, I build a giant castle out of blocks. I cut a chicken breast into tiny pieces for easy eating. I listen to a young child wonder why their old friend won’t play with them any more. I bandage a wound. I roll down a hill covered in grass. I change a dirty diaper and listen to a baby make noises and watch him smile as I replace the diaper. At best, I might get an hour to read for personal enjoyment just before bed, but I don’t go golfing and I very very rarely go to movies at this point.

Is that change a positive? For me, it certainly is. For others, it might not be. That’s fine.

The fantasy of parenting sounds appealing to a lot of people. The reality of parenting is fun to a smaller group than that. Make sure you’re in love with the reality and not just the fantasy before you bring a child into the world.

Trust me, the reality can be a lot of fun and very rewarding, too. Even if it involves changing some disturbingly full diapers.

If you enjoyed reading this, sign up for free updates!

Loading Disqus Comments ...
Loading Facebook Comments ...

50 thoughts on “Some Thoughts on Enjoying Parenting

  1. Cgirl says:

    As a woman who, at 30, is realizing I don’t want kids; I thank you for posting something being accepting of people who don’t have kids.
    Thanks

  2. Wiley says:

    I think it’s also important that parents know that they don’t have to enjoy every minute and everything. And that there are different paths for different people. I love my kids and truly enjoy parenting, but I think I would be a bad parent if I stayed at home with them.

    So, for us daycare/preschool/school works. For other people staying at home and then home school totally works. Find your own path.

  3. Vicky says:

    I’m very glad to see a post like this.

    Parenting is not for me or my husband. We realize this, and we find other ways to help out our community. I genuinely dislike being around young children, whereas my husband enjoys being around them for small periods of time, but neither of us want to give up what we’ve worked for.

    I’m glad to see how much you love parenting – I wish the world was full of parents just like you (and I keep wishing my dad was just like you). Children need attentive parents… and I’ll never be that.

  4. Benjamin says:

    I’m one of those that can become easily overwhelmed from time to time while balancing all of the things going on in my life. The challenge of course, is always demonstrating to my children that they are the most important things in my life!

    As parents we must realize that everything we do with our lives (hobbies, careers, etc.) affects our children in one way or another.

  5. Brittany says:

    “Other parents are distracted by other interests. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen a child begging for the attention of a parent but that parent is distracted by work or by checking sports scores or by texting.”

    So if I want to be a parent, I can’t be distracted by any other issues? Also, I can’t teach my children patience and self-control by asking/teaching them to patiently wait to ask for something from someone until that person finishes the task at hand? As a teacher, I wish MORE parents taught their kids that begging for immediate attention is not a successful life strategy. Building a culture of “What you have to say is important to me, and I want to hear it in a minute. However, right now I am working and need you to be patient until I am finished.” teaches a far better life skill than “I will drop every other interest and obligation any time you bed for attention.”

    My goal is to not criticize your parenting style; it’s just to ask you not to be so critical of others’. I think you have a lot of solid ideas and a great attitude as a parent (as well as towards non-parents), and I loved most of the article, but the snarkiness against other parents with different realities is very off-putting to me personally, both in this article and the one from a few days ago.

  6. Baley says:

    @Brittany #5: There’s a difference between teaching your children patience and consistently ignoring them on a long-term basis. I think what Trent was addressing is the latter. Otherwise, I agree with your post.

    I’m sad that the twitter commenter finds it hard to find parents who enjoy parenting. The parents around me seem to enjoy it pretty well, and I certainly do. I wonder if he just gets to hear the complaints of parents (hey, we all need to complain sometimes) without the positives. Maybe some parents really don’t enjoy it. But I can’t imagine that.

    Also, sometimes (okay, a lot of the time) parenting is hard, even if it is enjoyable. It’s hard to get up at 12:30 and 4:30 (for many parents it’s much more frequently than that) in the night to breastfeed my daughter, but it’s enjoyable once I get up and do it. I love those quiet moments even as I crave more sleep. I don’t necessarily think you have to be excited by the idea of giving up watching baseball games (as an example) in order to be a good parent or enjoy parenthood once you’re there. I think you just have to be willing to give up the baseball games, realizing that what you’ll gain in return is something far greater.

  7. Sarah says:

    I think I learned as much or more from being left to my own devices than I did from my parents’ participation or supervision. I certainly learned that I wasn’t the center of the universe, that if I wanted something I had to be creative and work for it, that my powers of concentration are my own best help.

    Futhermore, watching my parents pursue their social circles taught me how adults interact – the good and the bad. How they pursued their hobbies allowed me to learn how much is too much, how much is enriching, and how to relax. Being required to leave them alone while they read a book gave me the idea that I should protect my reading time from others.

    The parenting style/phase you are enjoying is called “helicopter” parenting – and doesn’t continue to produce well as children age. Just as you have come to understand that babies are not romantic – neither is early elementary like babyhood. Check out the “Love and Logic” series for more about the risks/benefits for various styles.

  8. Johanna says:

    I’d be interested in seeing you revisit this post when your children are teenagers.

  9. Kate says:

    @#5, I was surprised that you read the comments about distraction as a poke at parents who are balancing work and kids at the same. As someone who works from home, I’m sure Trent has (and enforces) boundaries about when he can be interrupted and not. I saw it more as a comment about people who treat their own kids with a disrespect they’d never extend to other adults. If you went out to lunch with a friend, and your friend was telling you a story about something that was important in their life, would you just pick up a magazine and start reading? Or if someone came up to you and asked you a question, would you just ignore them? I see parents in restaurants and stores do exactly that, without even bothering to say something like, “It’s time to be quiet and eat now” or indicating that they heard the question (is it hard to just raise their index finger in a “one minute” gesture?). I’m sure everyone does that sometimes, but doing that frequently isn’t a “different reality” – it’s just plain rude.

  10. Dash says:

    Great post, being a dad of twins I completely agree. Especially on the giving up of old hobbies to be replaced by new ones, I used to be the social spark in my circle of friends, always organizing everything, being in the center of it all. Now I’m married with two wonderful kids, it’s a completely different stage in my life and I am very happy to be in it. Yes it’s hard but nothing replaces hearing dad when I walk through the door and having my kids run up and hug my legs. It’s just priceless and until you have kids you really can’t quite put it into words how special it truly is to be a parent.

  11. cc says:

    thanks for the post, very refreshing viewpoint.

  12. Brittany says:

    @9–It’s been a consistent theme lately. Actually for a while. (Any parent who has adult interested or obligations outside of parenting are bad parents!) Perhaps I’ve overreading into this article’s comment in particular.

    Agreed, Sarah.

  13. Johanna says:

    @Kate: (Disclaimer: I am not a parent, so I’m mostly talking about interactions between adults here.) The way I see it, the real rude ones are the people who think they can demand my attention at any time, regardless of what else I’m doing.

    Most adults, fortunately, know better than to do this. But there’s one of my coworkers, who will barge into my office to start talking to me about whatever’s on his mind. (No knocking, no “Excuse me, do you have a minute to talk about XYZ” – he just walks right in and starts talking about XYZ.) And every so often, I’ll run into some jerk on the train who will try to engage me in conversation even though I’m obviously reading a book, listening to music, and/or looking out the window lost in thought. (Invariably, the conversation they want to have is about stupid stuff, like “What instrument is that that you’re carrying?” while pointing to my obviously guitar-shaped case. If they had an actual important question, like how to find the stop they want, that would be another matter.)

    Now, with children, I understand that it’s not their fault they don’t yet know the social rules for when you can and can’t demand someone’s attention. But adults should know better.

  14. Matt says:

    @ #5 Brittany – Wow, you read this much differently than I did. I just read it as, “don’t ignore your children or demonstrate to them that something minor is more important than they are.” Of course you have to ask them to wait sometimes – but I agree with Trent, I see a lot of parents ignoring their kids for no particular reason – and not even asking them to wait.

    @ #7 Sarah – I don’t see Trent “helicopter parenting” here. I see him saying that you don’t have as much time to do your own thing once you become a parent – which is true. Also, that your focus necessarily changes – also true.

    Enjoying spending time with your kids (and recognizing how that affects other areas of life, and making conscious choices about it) isn’t helicopter parenting – it’s being a good parent! Helicopter parenting is when you make excuses for your kids (and their bad behavior) rather than teaching them. I don’t agree with Trent on everything about parenting, but from what I’ve seen he values teaching his kids – not making excuses for them or having them wholly reliant on him for every little thing.

  15. SMB says:

    This is the least judgmental post I’ve EVER read that discusses the fact that some folks just don’t want to be parents. Thank you! I’ve never had any interest in parenting, but I’m happy that it’s the right thing for YOU and that you get so much enjoyment out of it.

    I hope the comments can remain similarly non-judgmental…

  16. Kate says:

    @#13, your comment really made me think a lot – thank you! Yes, it is rude to demand someone’s attention without consideration of their context. The world is, sadly, full of rude people. Fortunately, just because someone demands your attention doesn’t mean you have to give it. If it’s your own kid, their rudeness is a teaching opportunity which, when capitalized upon, generates a benefit in the form of less rudeness in the future. Example: “Kid, when I’m on the phone, you must wait.” Next time: “On the phone, remember?” Next time: palm up gesture indicating to wait. Next time… well, not likely to keep happening as long as you aren’t rewarding the behavior with any kind of attention, good or bad.
    Alas, we can’t do the same with other adults, or at least not overtly. But we don’t have to pander to their assumptions about our availability. My favorite move with the annoying coworker (I do feel your pain) is to say at the very first break, or even interrupt if necessary (they do have to breathe): “gosh, [coworker], I’m really focused on [important project]. Can you please make an appointment [come back at noon/whatever] for our conversation?” Said with a smile.

  17. Johanna says:

    I should clarify that my comment #13 is mostly in response to Kate’s question “Or if someone came up to you and asked you a question, would you just ignore them?” To which my answer is: It depends on the circumstances and on the question, but in some situations, yes, absolutely I would.

  18. FMF says:

    Trent –

    It only gets better too. Our kids are now teenagers and we all are loving life. You have a lot of good times to look forward to.

  19. Des says:

    I agree that your priorities and social circle will change when you become a parent – how could they not? However, it isn’t healthy for your entire world to be solely focused on your children, to the exclusion of all else. That places a huge burden on your children, and it fails to model healthy adult behavior. I think it is important that parents make time for their own adult friends and interests. Obviously, this time will be small in comparison to what is was pre-children, but it shouldn’t disappear completely. After all, your kids will leave the nest one day and then what will you do if you have no friends or hobbies?

  20. Des says:

    RE #16 – My kiddos must be slow learners, because they would not sit and wait quietly for me to get off the phone after only telling them 2 or 3 times. And maybe I’m the only one with defiant kids, but sometimes they will do things they know is wrong to see if they can get away with it. I totally get why some parents would simply ignore a child when they are begging for attention. That might not be my chosen method, but then again I don’t have those folks’ kids. Maybe ignoring is what works rather than a detailed explanation of why the attention must be postponed. I did find Trent’s comment about that judgey. Just because your kids react one way doesn’t mean everyone’s do. Our are fosters that were severely neglected. The don’t respond the same way a healthy child would to his or her biological parents, and that is sometimes hard for people to understand. I think parents owe one another a bit of slack.

  21. Katie says:

    Plus, when you see someone out in public, you see one moment of their lives. It might be the worst one, for all you know. I think it is good to remember that – everyone behaves in unadmirable ways sometimes, and it doesn’t necessarily say much about their character overall.

  22. Jane says:

    Many people already beat me to my comments on this point. Overall I thought it was a very nice discussion of parenting and the demands and joys of it. But I also have to take issue with the thought that we always need to give our children attention and that somehow it is wrong of me to tell them to wait. And I don’t mean that I only tell them to wait when I am doing something important. No, I’ve been known to tell my three year old to wait even if I am reading a magazine for pleasure. Johanna got it right when she talked about the rudeness of breaking in on someone and expecting immediate attention. We need to teach our kids gradually that this type of behavior is not acceptable and that they are not the center of the universe.

    “As parents we must realize that everything we do with our lives (hobbies, careers, etc.) affects our children in one way or another.”

    I agree (sort of), but what a burden this puts on us as parents if we think about such a thing all the time! I don’t have any specific studies to cite, but I remember hearing on NPR once that several studies had shown that the type of parenting you engage in has very little impact on the long term mental health of your child. This sounds crazy in light of how much attention we give to the minutiae of parenting, but basically the speaker was saying that as long as you care for your child and create boundaries, they tend to turn out as functioning adults. Abuse in any form causes damage. But our definition of abuse has become so broad. In other words we label things abusive that really aren’t. I’m not going to damage my kids if I tell them to go away once in a while.

    Perhaps one reason people are deciding not to have kids these days is because we have such unhealthy ideas about parenting and the amount of self-sacrifice it entails. It’s okay to want to be away from your kids. It’s okay to be annoyed with them. You don’t have to give everything up for them. And you are not going to scar them for life if you are a not a perfect parent.

  23. valleycat1 says:

    #7 Sarah – I don’t think I’d characterize what Trent describes as “helicopter parenting.” To me, that term refers to the parents constantly monitoring the child’s activities & often inserting themselves between their child & another adult who is in charge (teacher, team coach, older child’s boss, etc), making decisions the child should be making from moment to moment, directing where the child’s attention should be focused now, making sure they play with toys ‘correctly’ rather than creatively, expecting older children to be in touch constantly when they’re away from home (or constantly contacting the child), etc.

  24. Amy says:

    Very interesting article and comments! I waited later in life to have my daughter and I am glad I did. When I was younger I think I would have resented (to some degree) the change in my life and all of the things that I had to “give up”. Now that I am older, I really enjoy all the changes in our life. I saw many of my younger co-workers mourning the loss of their old life once they had children. Not saying this is true for everyone, just an observation.

  25. jim says:

    You have to be ‘excited’ about ‘caring’ about the castle a toddler builds out of blocks or you shouldn’t be a parent? Thats a little much IMHO.
    You don’t have to genuinely be excited to play chutes and ladders, barbies or blocks to be qualified to parent. Its ok for adults to enjoy adult things more than childrens games and that doesn’t exclude them from being great parents.

    If you literally apply Trents rules / expectations here I think you’d rule out most of the world from the role of parents. So hopefully Trent doesn’t mean it as literally as he writes it. Or am I wrong here? I mean does the whole world act like this honestly?

    People should be interested in parenting and want to have kids and pay attention to them and recognize that kids will take priority. OK.

  26. Michelle says:

    I can’t disagree with Trent or with any of the comments for one reason. You’re all being thoughtful about parenting. I don’t think you’d be commenting if parenting wasn’t something you took seriously. You might choose different methods but you’re *thinking* about it.

    This is in opposition to people who only have children because it’s a cultural or familial expectation. You get bombarded with questions about when you’re going to get married. Once you’re married, you get bombarded with questions about when you’re going to have kids. Few ask the harder, more thoughtful question: “Do you want kids?”

    Some people fall into parenthood without asking themselves this question but then discover their passion for it and thrive in the role. Others fall into parenthood and discover that they don’t want to be parents which is sad and unfair to both the parent and the kid. I think these are the parents Trent is talking about with the sports scores and texting. They’re not trying to instill respect and manners; they’re truly indifferent to their children.

    I don’t want children. I have a friend who was so passionate about having children that she mortgaged her house to go through IVF. What we both have in common is that we’ve thought carefully about what we want. Have kids or don’t; just make it a conscious, deliberate, thoughtful choice.

  27. JS says:

    I appreciate how this post explicitly lays out the benefits of being a parent. We’re thinking about having kids in the next few years. I frequenly hear specific, detailed examples of the downsides of parenting but only general examples of the upsides. As a result, I sometimes have a hard time seeing the benefits of children even though I’ve always wanted them. Essays like these are the kind of thing I need to make an informed decision about being a parent.

  28. Amy says:

    @26 Michelle – Well Said!

  29. Kate says:

    @ #20: I didn’t at all mean to suggest that kids can learn to act appropriately after only 2 or 3 tries – only that when it’s your own kid, you have an extended period of time to interact with them and can influence their behavior. Everybody has to make their own decisions about how to use their influence and what behaviors matter. I think seeing the results of those decisions must be a wonderful part of being a parent!

  30. Megb says:

    @#24 (Amy)–I agree with you. I just had a baby at 37, and the whole experience has been very joyful for me (yes, even when I’m changing dirty diapers or when he’s sick). I think I can say the same for my husband as well. In some ways I think it’s because we waited so long–and it wasn’t on purpose, believe me. We have really embraced the changes in our life, but I’m not sure either of us would have done so as readily if we had had children at a younger age.

  31. Carole says:

    I don’t think people always know how they will feel about parenting until they actually have a child. Sometimes one is surprised how much love a child evokes and I suppose it works the other way, too. An unplanned pregnancy that seems like the end of the world may turn out to be the best thing that ever happened in retrospect.

  32. kristine says:

    Helicopter parenting means constantly hovering-like a helicopter! It means monitoring your child’s progress and interactions incessantly, and being constantly at their disposal. The child is not only the child, but the center of the household and the parent’s lives. The child-rearing eclipses the job, the hobby, and the social life. It frequently escalates to actual interference and manipulation of events in the child’s life, such as intervening with a professor when a child is in college, or meddling in their relationships. It does not model normal adult behavior- it infantilizes and stunts emotional growth by controlling experiences to an unhealthy extent, in an effort that the child never experience real or emotional pain. It is a misguided attempt to manufacture a “happy” childhood.

    Children who are the utmost center of the family, being put sometimes even before the marriage, can become self-absorbed-why wouldn’t they? All they ever hear is how they are the most important thing. And for these kids parenthood will be a real trial, as it would require turning on a dime into an entirely different person to cope with the sacrifices and delayed gratification.

    In helicopter parenting, the child is the planet, and the parents are satellites. Better, and ideally, the parents are the planet, with firm ground, and the child is a rocket that if launched well, will go off on their own and reach for the stars!

    Someone has to write the list “You know you’re a helicopter parent when…

  33. valleycat1 says:

    #32 kristine – just search online for helicopter parent quiz.

  34. kristine says:

    Valleycat- yes, did that. I am looking for a comic version. Anybody?

  35. Julie says:

    Kristine,

    The list does exist. I saw it about 3 months ago. Thankfully I was not one. I had to laugh at comment #8 as I have two teenage boys and there have been MANY MANY times in recent years that I haven’t enjoyed parenting. I think about 90% of my friends would say the same thing, and most of us have pretty good kids. Trent has only been a parent for 5 years folks. He isn’t an expert and I sometimes wonder why so many people are asking for his parenting advice. For our parenting mentors, we chose people who were quite a bit older that had successfuly raised 2 or 3 kids to adulthood.

    I also tend to agree with the posters who think Trent might be living in an overly child centered household.

    I also completely agree with Johanna regarding the co-workers that just barge into my office and start a conversation…often not work related…when I am OBVIOUSLY busy working. Sometimes I am even on the phone and they come right in and sit down and wait for me to get off. These people often deserve to be ignored…

  36. Julie says:

    Correction…make that 100% of my friends who are parents of teenagers are experiencing frequent time of not enjoying being a parent. I would guess that many of them even would tell you that the times of distress now outweigh the times of “enjoyment.”

  37. Julie says:

    Neither my husband and I were particularly fond of kids before we had our own…and we still aren’t. (especially poorly behaved ones) It is probably fair to say we are even a little intolerant. I am an accountant and would have never dreamed of being an elementary school teacher, nor do I have any desire to work with kids in a Sunday School class at my church. That being said, I can’t even put into words how much we love our own 3 children, and we never thought twice about the sacrifices we had to make for them once they arrived. We even jointly home-schooled them for 6 years…each parent on a part time basis. We traveled with them each summer in a small trailer (which often was very stressful) and they have been in all 50 states. The point is…don’t think that just because you don’t feel attracted to kids in general doesn’t mean that you won’t be absolutely head-over-heels crazy over your own. And I am sure I am going to feel the same way about my grandchildren someday too! In fact I imagine they will be just about perfect! :)

  38. lurker carl says:

    I laughted out loud at Johanna’s comment about co-workers barging into my office and expecting me to immediately hang up the phone to discuss their concerns. It’s a daily occurance from people with enough education to know better but without enough common sense to understand the need to wait their turn. It’s rather gratifying to be at a point in my career and life where I can push such folks back to the end of the line where they belong.

    Children must be taught the rules of society, too many are raised to believe they are the center of the universe and important above all others. And they grow up to barge into our offices and demand immediate attention regardless of their place in line.

    Parenting is a life long experience. You continue parenting your adult children long after they fly from the nest. And then you parent your grandchildren and hopefully great grandchildren. And you parent your parents as their mental and physical health declines. Fortunately, friends and siblings can parent us as we need it, as we do them. Such is the circle of life. You’ll never understand the extremes of joy, exhileration, sorrow and pain of parenthood until you experience it – as both happiness and pain will strike at once.

    As the youngest of the brood, I have seen my grandparent’s and parent’s generation die off and my generation age into the abyss of the elderly. Meanwhile, three newer generations have been born and are maturing with guidance from their elders. Being part of shaping the newest members of the human race has been most gratifying, it is time well spent. But the pain of watching them ignore your teachings is excrutiating.

    Working for a living really does interfer with raising youngsters of all ages. Anyone who thinks otherwise is a fool. Appearance matters. Behavior is critical. Taking calls from your clients after hours keeps your business prospering and lifestyle intact. Emergencies from work can and will overshadow family time just as family time will trump all else. Such is the nature of the world, everyone has to attend to the things that keeps their lives afloat – both in family and business matters.

  39. Julie says:

    Lurker Carl,

    Your points are eloquently made and i agree with most. However I would have to say that my parents truly stopped parenting me when I married 25 years ago at the ripe old age of 21 3/4. The financial support stopped, unsolicated advice stopped, and it was even difficult for me to get solicited advice. They would generally remind me that they raised me with the ability to come to the right decision on my own, without their help. They also have not “parented” my children, but have fully enjoyed their special position of grandparents…which has brought them the joys of children without the responsbilities. Yes, I know that they do worry of my kids, but they do NOT parent them.

    I do have co-workers and friends who have tried and or “needed” to parent adult children and grandchildren, and often the results are less than spectacular. It seems like these adult kids often fail to grow up and take responsbility for their own lives…

  40. Kate says:

    I was lucky enough to have become a parent before there were all these electronic gadgets. I utilized wonderful PBS when I needed to quickly get a load of laundry done but I tried not to use it as a babysitter. I think young parents now days have a harder time setting down all these distracting devices. It saddens me when I see a parent out walking with their child and the parent is either tapping away on their phone or deep into a conversation with someone when they could be connecting to their child. I know I’ll get scolded for being judgmental but step back for a second and try to realize that this time you are given with your wee ones is soooo fleeting. It’s the little moments with our children that are the most nourishing for all—parent AND child.
    This isn’t high-pressure parenting it’s just being present.
    BTW: the time taken in the early years makes the “teen” years so much easier.

  41. lurker carl says:

    Julie,

    Point taken. Part of being a good parent is knowing when to mind my own business. But part of being a good parent is knowing when and how to offer assistance when life spins them into a ditch.

  42. prodgod says:

    Yes, wait until these precious tots become defiant teens. Then, top that off with judgmental friends and family who will blame YOU for your kid’s behavior, regardless of how attentive you were and how well you tried to raise them. I know you can’t imagine your sweet darlings ever hating you, but it happens to the best of parents. Enjoy these years while you can; there’s a storm coming. You have no idea.

    (Yes, there are exceptions, such as #18FMF, but these are freak occurrences and defy the laws of nature). Beware!

  43. Georgia says:

    C’mon, prodgod. I often think I was a lousy parent, but my kids grew up to love my husband and I unreservedly. And, as teens, they were wonderful – hard headed, but wonderful. I had so few worries that I often felt I had been blessed beyond my ability to comprehend.

    They grew up to be wonderful adults also – witty, intelligent, hard working. Of course, they have some faults and a couple of them might be major. But I love them.

    The one idea I instilled in them, after love of God, was of independence. They both went against my beliefs on a single item – that I know of. But, I told everyone that, since I had raised them to be independent, I could not now grouse because they disagreed with me. They must make their own choices in life. And, boy, do they!!!!

    I had a hard row to hoe with my son before age 5. He is one who had to do it his way. So, at age 5, I came up with the perfect solution. I often wonder why it took me so long, but remember that parents, like every other human being, are also slow at times.

  44. prodgod says:

    @Georgia: “So, at age 5, I came up with the perfect solution. I often wonder why it took me so long…”

    Well, are ya gonna share that perfect solution???

    :-)

  45. Graciela says:

    I love your kids

  46. SwingCheese says:

    Excellent article, Trent! I just have to speak to the importance of having conversations with your children and taking them seriously. Sure, you might not be terribly interested in what they’re saying at the age of 3 or 4. But if you’ve demonstrated your interest, and continue to have those conversations, your children will continue to talk to you. Even through the teenage years. When I was a teenager, my friends always wanted to hang out at my house, mainly b/c of my parents. They genuinely enjoyed talking with us, and my friends always felt heard and understood. They frequently came to my parents with problems rather than their own parents.

  47. Bubamara says:

    I think I agree with Trent and most other posters. I am in a similar boat, 3 children under the age of 4. So no, we can’t really know older kids, we don’t have older kids. But I so agree with him about spending time and showing them an appropriate level of attention and respect NOW , and it will pay off later. Severely limit television and electronic toys, and they’ll be able to entertain themselves. Eat right and get outside everyday, that’s how humans are designed to function.
    Agreed: Many parents I know don’t seem to enjoy their children at all.
    My heart breaks when I see the same things he mentioned; such as the mom and kid alone at the park, no other children around, and the mom totally ignoring him while she pushes the swing or he plays because she’s texting or playing a phone game rather than interacting with the child. I see this ALL The TIME and it’s horrible. My own husband is guilty too.

  48. bogart says:

    I don’t know Trent or his family and really have no idea if he is parenting effectively or not (though clearly he’s committed to trying, can’t be faulted for that). But for those worried that he’s spending “too much” time with his kids or giving them “too much” attention … I have (just) one preschooler, he gets up every morning at about 7 and goes nonstop until 9. If you do the math, that means that in his schedule there are 14 hours every single day available for me to interact with him (or not). Even if I spend 4 of those conversing (etc.) with him one-on-one with him having my complete and undivided attention, there are plenty left to tell him he needs to entertain himself, respect my space, whatever. Or in other words, I don’t think we need to worry that simply because Trent is spending time with his kids, he’s not allowing them time to themselves or encouraging them to develop independence (or give him some ‘alone’ time).

  49. Allison says:

    Regarding making children “wait”… I don’t think that’s the same as ignoring a rude coworker or stranger on a train. A more appropriate comparison would be ignoring your best friend, your grandmother, your sibling who was telling you about the most important thing that ever happened to her/him. With a small child, every day is the most important day! Would you ever think of ignoring her or asking her to wait while you checked your text messages or finished a chapter in a novel? These are not random acquaintances–they are YOUR CHILDREN. You chose to have them–they didn’t choose to be here. Another important point is that it’s not this way every day for the rest of your life–obviously small children require time that teenagers do not. If you can’t truly commit to a child for such a short season of your life, then please do not have one!

  50. Steve says:

    I’ve heard parenting is annoying moment to moment but fulfilling on the grand scale.

    Personally, our first child is 14 months now and I am enjoying the moment to moment stuff quite a bit. I am not going to pretend it’s nothing but peaches and roses. But I do genuinely get enjoyment out of most of the small stuff.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>