Photo by Marc Faladeau
I was at a work conference in Portland. Across from me, at the catered lunch, was a non-parent who, when finding out I ran a daddy blog, insisted on giving me parenting advice. As she spoke, my eyes glazed over, and I thought about all the stupid advice I get about parenting from non-parents and how I’d like to respond. Here are a few examples.
Don’t let them eat in the car. Then it will not be a mess. Problem solved.
Listen, dipshit. Have you ever driven more than 20 minutes with a crying hungry toddler? Imagine yourself in a mobile sweaty hell with little screeching demons whining for graham crackers and constantly touching each other and bitching about it. Now imagine doing that everyday for a few years, and you know what, you will do anything to keep the peace so you don’t drive your minivan into oncoming traffic. Sometimes it feels like the backseat of my car is a prison yard and I’m doing what I can to keep inmates from revolting, and if that means handing out fruit snacks that will most likely be wedged into the seats, so be it.
Your kids wouldn’t be such picky eaters if you didn’t give them any other option.
When was the last time one of your adult friends came to your house for dinner and looked at what you served like it was a long dark terrifying hole? Sometimes it’s everything I can do to get my kids to take one bite of a burrito, and then I get the pleasure of watching them gag with big watery eyes. That alone turns my stomach. Then they whine, and gnash their little teeth, and cover their little tummies, and make me feel like an asshole because I wont give them dinosaur shaped chicken nuggets. Honestly, it’s not so simple as being a hard ass, or presenting options. It’s an ongoing, every meal battle, that is maddening and exhausting, and makes me want to serve nothing but Mac and Cheese.
If you really loved your kids you wouldn’t let them eat at McDonald’s.
If you had kids, you’d understand that your statement is bullshit. Here’s the thing, McDonald’s is going to happen. It’s just too powerful. I hate the place. I hate the food. I hate the way the toys seem to be breeding in my backseat. But kids love going to McDonald’s just like you love going to Starbucks. It’s expensive and unhealthy, but sometimes it just makes the day a lot easier.
You need to stop letting your children control your life.
What does that look like to you? Does that mean I get to go out whenever I want by leaving them in the back yard with a water dish and a bag of chips? Or does it mean taking them out without shoes because I’m not going to take the time to help them find the damn things so I won’t be late? Or does it mean spending money on myself when I can clearly see that my kids need new pants, or some other silly thing that is essential to them not looking like hobos? Let me tell you something about being a parent. My kids are my life. If they weren’t my life, then I’d be failing as a parent. In some cases I’d be arrested for neglect (see water dish example above). It’s just that simple. Kids are all consuming in the most wonderful way, and if I didn’t fully invest in them, they would terrorize my neighborhood and I’d find myself trending on Facebook for being a neglectful jackass.
I don’t understand why you are so tired all the time. Just tell your kids to go back to bed.
Really? And then what? Tie them up and gag them? No. I don’t think so. Telling a kid to go back to bed is about as easy as telling a cat to get off your lap and stop shoving it’s butt hole in your face. Last time I told my 5-year-old to go back to bed when she got up at 5 a.m. for no reason, she flipped her shit, stomped down the hall, and then banged her legs on her bed for five minutes. In the middle of this fit she managed to wake her brother and our new baby, and suddenly the whole house was up and moody, and ready to throw fits over toast and Cheerios, fits that lasted most of the day.
My dogs have the same problem. I just make sure they know who’s the boss.
Did you really just compare your dogs to my kids? Listen. I get it. Your pets are your children. That’s sweet and all, but here’s the deal. Kids are not pets. Sure, they both crawl around on the ground and ruin carpet, but kids are far more complex, prone to fits, and can’t be left home alone without legal action. And here’s something else, as much as I think I’m the boss of my children, the fact is, I control the lessons, but they control the classroom. Parenting is not about laying down the law and expecting a sweeping change. It’s about a million small adjustments, met with tears and frustration that take years to see the benefits of. So do me a favor: take your dog comparison and shove it.
What is some of the worst advice you’ve heard from non-parents?
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Clint Edwards was blessed with a charming and spitfire wife, a video game obsessed little boy, a snarky little girl in a Cinderella play dress, and an angry baby girl. When Clint was 9-years-old his father left. With no example of fatherhood, he had to learn how to be a father and husband through trial and error. His work has been featured in Good Morning America, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Huffington Post, Scary Mommy, The Good Men Project, Fast Company, and elsewhere. He lives in Oregon. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter.