If there’s one thing that I’ve learned during my stint so far as a parent is that most people have no clue what they’re talking about when it comes to kids. Some people may very well have good intentions but it’s my suspicion that most others are flapping their dumpster lids about something they’ve read from another clueless soul or spouting opinions based on logic that doesn’t apply to how a child really thinks.
I admit that I was the same way. Before my own kid was born, I had all types of parenting advice for my friends with children. My counseling covered everything from discipline to learning. There was nothing I didn’t know. I had years of random news segments, magazine articles and about 10 hours total of watching kids to back it up. Thinking back, I have to say that it probably took every prayer of strength to not have cussed me out until they went hoarse.
One evening, I was at dinner with a buddy of mine and her three year-old. The little guy and I always got along, but he had just entered the lying stage of childhood development. In front of his mom, he scratched himself on the hand and pretended to cry. Then he turned to her and said that I did it.
Shocked and appalled, I expected her to discipline him right away because that’s something an “expert” in a magazine would say to do. Instead she said, “Larry, don’t scratch him” and continued with her previous conversation. I was even more shocked. What kind of future gangbanging cannibal is this woman raising? At this rate, the kid will have teardrop tats under his eye and a Riker’s Island jumpsuit before he can drive. It wasn’t until I became a dad that I realized what that moment was all about.
Here’s the Scooby Doo post-unmasking explanation of what went down. My friend has been dealing with her little tyrant all day. The kid has been whining, begging, crying and demanding attention to no end. We’re finally sitting down at this nice table at a restaurant and the boy isn’t losing his mind over a toy he wants in her purse nor is he trying to figure out how to make the dinner rolls bounce off the floor.
Yes, he scratched himself and lied about it, but disciplining him at this one moment of peace would start an hour-long battle that will surely ruin the entire meal. So if that can all be avoided by a “Larry, don’t scratch him,” so be it. My buddy knows that her son is lying, because that’s what kids his age do. It wasn’t the first time and won’t be the last. There will be plenty of opportunities to break him out of it; just not this one. Besides, I was the adult. Why am I going to protest for justice against a three year-old? In retrospect, I would have done the same thing.
The best advice you can get is from a parent or grandparent with multiple kids/grandkids. My mom came from a crew of 12 that she helped to raise and my mother-in-law had three kids and then seven grands (Liam included). Both of them are like military strategists when it comes to young people and if they don’t know something, they won’t hesitate to say so.
Every child is different, even though there are phases that they all go through much the same way. Something that works for one kid may not work for another. That’s why you’ve got to take the big mouths on social media with a grain of salt.
While a few may have interesting points, a lot haven’t learned the most important thing about raising children – that when it comes to kids, nobody has all the answers.