Publisher’s Perspective: Parenting in 2018 – Part 3 (opinion)
February 1, 2018
Do I or don't I? Yes or no? These thoughts run through a parent's head many times each day. But how much does outside influence affect the answer? Well, it's complicated.
I asked the parenting panel whether or not they felt like their child gets enough sleep and whether or not nutrition plays a part in their lives. Answers to both questions can easily be governed by what other people say.
How many times has a child had a friend whose mom lets them stay up until 10 p.m. on a school night? Or who has encountered the kid whose parents' idea of giving them sweets is a banana?
I read a chart the other day that said my 3-year-old should be in bed by 7:30 p.m. Yeah, right. With four active kids some school nights we don't even get home until after 8 p.m. Hopefully all the homework has been done and, oh yeah, at some point we've got to throw some type of food in their gullets.
All I'm saying is that what's right in my house definitely isn't right for everyone. Many of the parents talked about keeping a sleeping schedule. We have so much going on, that just wouldn't work for us. Which is a theme that seems to be resonating in this parenting series — each situation is unique.
As one parent answered the nutrition question: "I don't find it hard to cook nutritiously because it's just part of our lifestyle. I don't feel guilty for the pizza dinner or fast food lunch because the majority of our meals are balanced."
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I think that can be said for my family, too. It's important to cook healthy and for their bodies to get the nutrition they need. But that doesn't mean kale chips and green beans 24-7.
They're only a kid once. You have to feed the sugar monster every now and then — if not just for your own personal enjoyment of watching a kid turn and burn through the house on a sugar high. It's quite fascinating, actually. I kid, but you get the point.
Another item that can easily be dictated by outside influences is disciplining your child in public. Opinions are all over the board on this, which is to say that it's also somewhat controversial.
Answers ranged from straight up no problem at all, to using sign language, to code words for when the stuff really hits the fan, to what one parent said, "always quietly, but always."
I think one parent put it best when they said that if things are instilled at home, they'll understand the looks you give in public. But it still happens. You have to be conscious of what and who is around you.
I'm not one to agree with yelling or belittling a child in public, but maybe that kid is at the end of their rope at that time. For the most part if I see a parent disciplining a kid in public, it's probably because they deserved it.
Only if it were unnecessarily violent or completely unnecessary would I feel it my obligation to say something. I think a lot of the "looks" parents get in public are from non-parents. They are the ones we parents scare into not having kids.
There are so many opportunities for a parent to give into outside opinion and/or influence. What and when do I talk about sex? How do I approach drugs and alcohol? Do you like whom they're hanging around with? I encourage you to stand your ground with your kids, but be open and honest. You will always know what's best, even if it means treating a boy different than a girl.
I asked our parents this very question: What's different about raising a boy versus a girl in today's society and does it change how you parent each?
I think a lot of us would say that we try to raise our kids equal. But after what we've talked about so far in the series, I don't think you can. You have to be flexible to the child and the unique circumstance at the time.
It's like the general answer about which kid a parent loves the most: They're loved equally, just different. I think that's how you have to approach parenting boy versus girl.
A father who is raising two girls and a boy answered: "My goal is to raise my boy to be a gentleman and respectful towards others. I find myself raising my girls to first respect themselves and be mindful of the dangers that this world can deliver. Girls are more vulnerable and can easily be targeted."
I think the recent "Me Too" movement has exposed that there are definitely obstacles that women encounter that men do not. That alone should tell you that you have to parent your daughters different. You have to teach them to be mindful of what can happen and be strong to stand up against it — which will most likely be hard as hell.
There's so much to fear in today's world — as a parent and as a child. While probably not a topic that will instill images of rainbows, it's one that I think is important enough to discuss and probably a good way to wrap this series up next week.
Publisher Rob Galloway can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-542-8046.
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