“I’d like to thank my parents, my awesome husband, my neighbor’s dog, well because we don’t have one…” What am I doing, you ask. Well. I’m rehearsing my thank you speech for this award I’m going to win this year. I’m virtually a shoo–in in this category.
Are you curious what award is it that’s so easy to win that even I have made the cut? First off, it’s not easy. It takes a lot of grit, determination and hard work but when you put in the work, you get nominated for the “Worst Mother/Father/Parent of The Year” award.
What have I had to do to make it to this prestigious category, you ask, all fired up. I’m not a selfish person, so I will share with you all my mantra for success. With a little diligence and a lot of hard work, you can be exactly where I am – nominated in this extremely competitive, extremely cut throat category of “Worst Mother/Father/Parent of the Year”.
Here are some gospel truths for you to assimilate before December next year…
1. Maintain consistent rules and schedules around dinner, bedtime, school work, playtime, music/piano/guitar/dance/add activity of your choice practice. Do this even when your child begs for 5 more minutes of whatever mind numbing crap he/she is doing.
2. Only feed them healthy food – spinach, broccoli, green beans, peas and the like. NEVER, I repeat, NEVER let them indulge in chips, pizza, ice cream or candy (Well, you can indulge them once in a while when they have straight A’s on their report card and have aced their piano exams and the spelling bee). Believe me, some sort of holy trifecta has to be achieved before the healthy food rule can be bent.
3. Showing them who’s boss – Have you ever said “My House – My Rules” or “Because I said so” and then cringed internally? A lot of the time there is no way to explain fully to a 5 or 8 or 11 year old why providing your home address and phone number to strangers is not a good idea. Until you have instilled a healthy sense of paranoia and distrust in your child either “My House – My Rules” or “Because I Said So” are perfectly good reasons.
4. No iPods, iPads, smartphones, or e-readers until all their homework, practice, projects are done. This one is a slippery slope. If you give an inch, they’ll take an ell and then all you will do is yell at them to get off the electronic brain rotter and all they will say is “In a minute”. Beware the puppy dog eyes and the “Please can I play on the phone/laptop/iPad for 5 minutes?” First rule of parenting – 5 minutes is 1 hour and no, them liking you for a minute is not worth the sacrifice.
5. This one is especially for parents of girls – delay makeup for as long as possible. Teach your girls to dress in a manner that instills confidence in them, not please the world at large or boys in particular. Teach them to speak their mind even if no one likes them in the short term. Teach them you have to like yourself – first. Teach them education is important and invaluable. Then support them in their choices. They may not choose to be like you but if they are happy, it’s your job to find happiness in their happiness. Last, but not least, SUPPORT them – they WILL make mistakes. It’s your job to be their safe harbor. The last part applies to all parents, whether you are parenting girls, boys, or babies of the four-legged or no legged kind.
What other pearls of wisdom can I share with you? Hmmm…. They will not always like you. The hugs and lisping ‘I love yous’ when they were 2, 3, 4, 7 year olds will morph into slammed bedroom doors, “You’re embarrassing me” and “Do you HAVE to ruin my life?” Learn not to take it personally. You were not put on earth to be their best friends. They have similarly aged reckless, gushing, well-meaning fools that fit the bill. You are here to parent. You are like the General that sees the big picture and ignores the inconsequential skirmishes. If they end a conversation with “I hate you” “Ugh, you’re the worst mother/father/parent in the world” you’ve struck gold. Stick to your path.
Even if they are all grown and hate you (a very, very miniscule probability of this happening) you will still rejoice in the fact that they are sane, secure, self-reliant, successful members of society.
P.S: Do not bother commiserating with your parents about your good parenting struggles. If they are anything like mine, they will rub their hands in glee and chortle “Payback time”!
I am mom to a quickly growing 11 year old. I have lived abroad for over 15 years and I struggle daily with the challenges that parenting and straddling 2 different cultures throws at me. I am an avid reader, a huge fan of the movies (Bollywood, especially) and a somewhat sporadic writer. I blog at MM’s musings.