Parenting Philosophies

Universal Laws

I think most parents come into parenting with a “Parenting Philosophy.” It is probably a mix of things that their parents did with them, as well as some personal observation tweaks on parenting skills they have gleamed by watching the successes and failures of other parents.

I am no different. My parenting philosophy goes something like this:

  • I am your father first, and your best friend second (or maybe 5th or 6th after your real friends and your mother)
  • I ate vegetables and so can you. If you don’t eat them tonight, when you get hungry enough, you WILL eat them
  • After the approximate age of 3, you’re old enough to clean up most of your own messes and get your own toys and blankets from wherever in the house you’ve left them. I’m not your maid
  • When you’ve tuned out my threats of taking away your favorite toys, a spanking usually will do the trick
  • Just because we have kids, it doesn’t mean the house should look like a pigsty
  •  You can entertain yourself sometimes
  • anything else that I make up along the way

The problem with a philosophy, is that it’s just that—a philosophy. A philosophy is “a system of principles for guidance in practical affairs” (thank you The quick among you will see the fallacy at work here—the fact that a philosophy comprises principles. And what is a principle exactly, but a, “personal or specific basis of conduct  or management.”

Plainly put, a philosophy consists of a bunch of generally unproven beliefs. Which means then, that a philosophy is not proven and therefore seldom holds true in the real world.

Take last night. I met CareerMom and the boys out for dinner at the local binge-n’-purge. Things went well for the first 20 minutes as our oldest contented himself with coloring the little menu thingy and our youngest donned a bib and commenced to eat pretty much whatever we put in front of him. But then all that wore off and we were left with, “I’m ready to go home” whining from our oldest and, “Hey, let’s see how many times I can make mommy and daddy pick this up off the floor” from our youngest.

Once dinner was over, I volunteered to take our youngest home while CareerMom and my oldest went shopping for a last-minute Christmas gift for her Administrative Assistant at work who had made a point of telling CareerMom as she walked out the door that, “I have a Christmas gift for you tomorrow.”

When we got home, I put our youngest on the floor with some plastic containers to play while I washed up bottles and generally cleaned up. Well, he didn’t like that and he decided to cry.

Now, I had two choices here. I could A) Stand by my philosophies and let him entertain himself (or continue to cry) while I cleaned, or I could B) Pick him up, leave the mess and keep him happy.

Have I mentioned I’m stubborn? Well, I am so I stuck by my philosophy and treated myself to pretty much a nonstop 40-minute cry-fest because once he got started, nothing would stop him. It finally got close enough to bedtime, so I bathed him, put his jammies on and put him to bed.

God Bless the quietness!

But I’m at an impasse here because I don’t think he “learned” anything, which is really the whole point of sticking to your philosophy when things go south. So I’m not sure I won anything here and I’m sure that the next time the situation arises, it’ll play out similarly.

The only question that remains is, “How strong is my resolve?” I don’t know the answer to that, but what I do know for sure is that I will be tested; Oh yes, I will be tested still.

It’s Christmas for Goodness’ Sake

Nativity Scene

Despite whatever doubts I may have as to the validity of all of the things I’ve been taught regarding Jesus of Nazareth, and his time here on earth, the fact remains that I do believe. Down in whatever dark place I’ve pushed so many other things in my life, the belief that there is a benevolent God out there watching over my family (how else do you explain all the good things I have?) remains a small beacon of hope that if I’m not too bad here on earth, and if I don’t commit the same sins over and over one too many times, that maybe, just maybe when I die, I’ll end up somewhere happy and warm with my family and all of my dead pets.

I don’t believe in much; I have to be honest with you. I feel that the glass is perpetually half-empty and that given half a chance at getting away with it, most people will screw you over for $100. It’s a crappy way to live life, but hey, I’ve lived a life of facts and reality and my reality has shown this to be true for the most part.

I suppose then, this is why I take Christmas to heart like I do. I love Christmas. Oh, I’ll admit that I love the decorating and the cold weather and the fires and the gifts and the food (oh, the food!) more than I really enjoy sitting in church for two hours listening to the pastor try to come up with some unique spin on the Christmas story that no one has ever covered before, but it all goes hand in hand. So much about religion is really about how you feel about it anyway, so why should Christmas be any different?

Given all of this, I’m really offended, not just pretend-offended like so many people—I’m actually offended when non-believers relegate this time of the year to just “The Holidays.” And why do Jewish people get so offended over Christmas? I don’t know which faith first proclaimed this time of year their own, but can’t we all just get along? Can’t we all agree that, “Hey, something deeply moving and spiritual happened at some point in the year, and since we can’t really pinpoint the actual date, we’re all just going to be happy around December.”

To all the non-believers I say fine, you want to celebrate the Holidays, then do it on MLK and Valentines Day. On Christopher Columbus and President’s Day, go all out and decorate. Just let us Christians, for whom you have to thank for this time of year anyway (OK, and maybe Coca Cola is partially responsible too), enjoy this time of year without your having to pee in the punch bowl.