Parenting Advice From a Childless Man
There’s so much more to be said on parenting, but here’s just a few things I came up with from the perspective of a person who does not have children. I’m usually on the parent’s side on most issues, but there are some things that really get under my skin when I see them. Enjoy!
People Without Children Do Not Understand Your Struggle
Listen. I understand that we all have needs. We all need to eat, and we all like to have fun on occasion. But not everyone understands the day-in-day-out struggle of new parenthood. All of a sudden, you’re not allowed to have fun anymore because you can’t leave your baby alone for more than a few minutes at a time, and while the child is so young, it’s difficult to find a babysitter you can actually trust.
If you actually find the courage to take an infant (or any child less than a few years old) to a restaurant or movie theater, get ready for the dreaded “look of disapproval” from most non-breeders around you. Unless your baby is completely mute, it’s bound to happen. People might even come up to you and tell you to control your child or ask you to leave if he/she is being too loud. A screaming baby is the last thing someone wants to hear when they’re trying to enjoy a nice Filet Mignon or watch Guardians of the Galaxy. You can’t really blame them. I’m not going to tell you to stay out of restaurants and theaters, just to understand you’re going to get some shit for it.
My advice: Stick to “lower-end” areas. People might be less likely to judge here. There’s probably a few other screaming babies already there to greet you at the door. Go to the dollar theater instead of the Megaplex. People kind of expect crying children at these places. Just try your best not to get shot or stabbed.
P.S. The average childless person probably thinks they could do a better job as a parent than you can (spoiler alert: they have no idea).
On Breastfeeding in Public
This isn’t really advice as much as it is my personal thoughts on the subject.
Personally I don’t have anything against this, but it really depends on the situation for me. Again, not everyone understands a parent’s struggle. There are many situations where you might not want to breastfeed in public.
Public breastfeeding doesn’t bother everyone, but it’s really easy to look trashy in some situations. If you’re worried about it, go out to the car, the bathroom, put a cover over yourself, etc. There are a multitude of ways to get around it. If you want to purposely draw attention to yourself, do it anyway. You don’t have to be that guy. But if that floats your boat, go for it. There’s nothing wrong with the act itself, but just remember this: the average person is weird as shit. People get outraged over the most trivial occurrences. I’m not sure I’ll ever understand our “outrage culture” as I like to call it, but it exists. If I had an infant, more than likely I’d just stay out of public as much as possible. Honestly, you probably don’t even notice people breastfeeding in public most of the time.
People are so quick to judge. They’re probably judging you even when you’re not doing anything wrong, just making things up in their head, putting labels on you. I swear to God I’d be a hermit if I had a baby. Oh wait, I’m already a hermit.
“OUTRAGE! THIS IS AN OUTRAGE! SHE’S BREASTFEEDING IN PUBLIC! OH GOD, THIS IS AN OUTRAGE!”
No… No, it really isn’t.
For God’s Sake, Be Nice to Your Kid!
I’m going to say this a third time. I can’t even imagine how difficult it must be to have a child. I seriously can’t, but holy shit if it isn’t every week I’m in Wal-Mart and I see some woman driving around in her motorized shopping cart yelling at her kids (straight-up yelling at them). Pulling him/her by the arm, whispering in his/her ear, loud for the whole aisle to hear, threatening to spank him, or actually doing it.
The line between discipline and child abuse is thin. Remember that these kids will someday be parents, and if you treat them poorly, they will learn to treat others poorly as well. There’s no guidebook for “How to Become a Responsible Adult”. You have to teach them respect by respecting them.
It must be infuriating having a child acting out in the middle of a store, but get it together! Calm down. You’re just teaching your child to behave like you are.
Communication is really important. Take a deep breath, count backward from ten to zero, and handle the problem like a grown-up. Being stern is fine, but don’t embarrass them in front of the entire store.
Remember: Putdowns are a no-no.
Teen Level (Hardcore Mode)
Listen, Encourage, Understand
Being a teenager is difficult. Seriously difficult. You must remember what it’s like. Kids go through all kinds of awkward phases during these years. As a parent, all you can do is listen to them, be both a parent and a friend to them, and understand what they’re going through. Saying “Well, when I was your age,” doesn’t work as well as you might think. Sometimes all they need is for you to shut up and listen. Ask what they want instead of telling them what they should do.
This video is talking about getting your children interested in science, but his advice can be applied to almost any field or subject. Get out of their way. (Also, thanks to my wife Abby for reminding me of this video)
Be the parent your child deserves, and the one it needs right now.
Don’t Live Vicariously Through Your Child
I don’t know if this is a real thing or if it only happens in movies, but don’t live vicariously through your child. Just because you missed out on an opportunity when you were young doesn’t mean your child has to do it for you. If he or she doesn’t want to play football or join the military or whatever else, they don’t have to. If they do, that’s totally fine, but don’t force it. I’m going to say that again. Don’t force it.
Find out what they really enjoy, and let them explore options in relation to that. Is your child really passionate about drawing or playing music? See if they want to take an art class or join band. Basically all I’m trying to say is don’t force your child to do things they don’t want to do just because you never were able to. Don’t try to make them the popular kid in school. Maybe that’s not who they want to be.