March 28, 2005

Nobody's an Expert

Posted by Hello

It's the toughest, and yet most important job, in the world. People don't get paid to do it and there's no one likely to thank you for it. There are days you just want to throw in the towel and other days there's no place you would rather be in the world.

The job is called parenting and nobody has a clue how to do it.

Why doesn't parenting come with a manual? The hospitals should hand out free copies of "Parenting - Your Job for the Next 18 Years."

Hey, don't look at me, I don't have all the answers. Kevin and I were totally clueless when our sons were born. Our parenting skills have been purely trial and error. We've made mistakes and we've done some things right, but overall, I think we've done an ok job with our boys. They are both sweet, intelligent, kind and loving. What more could a parent ask for?

If you've never seen "Supernanny," you should. When it first came on, I just rolled my eyes. Good grief, not ANOTHER reality TV show!? But I have to admit, after watching it a few times, it has potential.

In a nutshell, SuperNanny is about disciplining children without getting physical. The show starts with the nanny watching a tape of the household that needs help and it's usually pretty bad. The kids run the household and are little monsters. The parents have had it up to their eyeballs and don't know what to do to regain control of their household. I have to admit, these kids are BRATS, with a capital B.

So this is the part where you sit back and scoff and ridicule the parents of these impossible children. How could they have let their kids get this way? To give you an idea how bad these kids are: they backtalk, they slap their parents, they disappear and often show up at the end of their street, they are truly unruly. You just want to take the parents by their shirtfronts and give them a shake or two. Hello!? Who's the adult here?

Ah....that's the problem. There is no adult present. Most times, the parents bicker back and forth with the kids, thereby stooping to their level. It's disheartening to watch. And the first couple of times I watched it, I was thoroughly disgusted with these so-called parents.

But then, I started to feel sorry for them. After all, nobody is really prepared for parenting, you're just sort of thrust into the thick of things. Oh sure, there are TONS of books out there, but who has the time or energy to read them? And then if you do read them, they contradict themselves. Who do you believe?

It's frustrating. In a society where you can't physically harm your child without getting reported to the Division of Family Services, how do you discipline your child?

We never had that problem. When the boys were growing up, I used a wooden spoon on them. I smacked them once on the back of the legs and that got their attention, immediately. They were issued one warning and if they didn't comply, SMACK. It sounds cruel, but it was effective. Our boys are well-rounded citizens today.

I believe in spanking, and let's define that while we're on the subject. Spanking means smacking the child ONCE to get their attention. Not to lose control and beat the child. That's something else parents tend to lose, control over themselves. Children need discipline. If they don't have it, if they don't know where their boundaries are, then you end up with children who backtalk you and slap you around. It's important.

But I have to admit, watching SuperNanny and her techniques, they make sense. It would be wonderful if the non-violent tactics worked, but let's be honest, they won't on more "stubborn" children. The show is great, it's a great lesson in patience, endurance, and consistency. But I have to wonder what the time period is between the time SuperNanny enters the scene and the time when the child actually succumbs. The show makes it look like it works on the first try, or at least, in a short time, and maybe it does. But I'm skeptical.

I guess my point is: parenting is not easy. It's hard and there's no references to consult. It's often times a trial and error learning experience. But this much I know - nobody's an expert.

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