Listen. This parenting gig is a hard one. It can be relentless and it can make us lose our minds. But if we can remember a few things, we might just be able to avoid becoming the batshit crazy parents we're all scared of becoming. And that is a win, is it not?
So here I present you with 4 Surefire Ways* to Avoid Becoming a Batshit Crazy Parent.
1. Listen to your kids.
I realize when you have small children, this can be tantamount to sainthood. THEY TALK SO MUCH. But, when you listen, you'll also notice they tell you exactly what they need. Now granted, what they need might change from moment to moment, but that's beside the point. What's even fancier is from time to time, if you listen closely, they might even tell you what you need. And those days are like miracles. Later, your teenagers will say very, very little, so the few things do say then are vital. Listen.
2. Think about all the things your parents did that drove you (or still drive you) insane, and then DON'T DO THOSE THINGS.
This one's tricky. You might actually have parents with diagnosed mental conditions. You might have parents with undiagnosed--but clearly still present--mental conditions. Or you might not be able to place a finger on exactly what they do that make you crazy. Or your parents might be in perfect mental health, and still make you nuts. Or it might be the way they breathe or they way they chew and there's not much you can do about that (because our basic human functions will annoy the crap out of our kids, too. Guaranteed.) BUT, being aware, at least, is the important step. If you actually try not to irk your children, that has to count for something, right? (Say right.)
3. Be attentive and available, but don't climb up your children's butts.
Your kids want you around and accessible when they want you or need you, but they do not want you all up in their business. Which is good, really, because that ain't healthy. Your kids need to know they can do things on their own--even at a young age--and it's good for them. As hard as it can be to loosen your vice-like grip on their little arms, do it. They'll thank you. And so will their future teachers/friends/partners/bosses.
4. Show them respect.
R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Find out what it means to me. And them. And everyone. Your kids are people, too, so it makes sense to treat them as such. Don't patronize them. Don't ignore them (for prolonged periods of time, anyway... a certain amount benign neglect is good for them). Don't do everything for them. Trust them enough to allow them to learn. Help them when they need it. And love them like crazy. When all else fails, just love the hell out of 'em. That counts for a lot.
And that's it! Four easy (not actually always easy) steps to being a totally decent parent. And that's really what we hope for most, right? To be decent parents. Aim moderately, Smarties, and prepare to do okay!
* Okay. So... maybe not surefire. Maybe more like...probably likely to work. Or helpful! Helpful tips. ANYWAY.I know all of this is a lot easier said than done. You'll fail sometimes. I fail sometimes, too. Okay, I fail a lot. I fail ALL the time. I maybe am not super great at this parenting thing. Or this life thing. BUT I AM TRYING. The point is, we're human. So, when you fail, forgive yourself--apologize if you need to--and move on. Practice means progress, right?