Compassion For Your Kids Starts With Compassion for Yourself

 

A few days ago, I saw a set of “Bad Parent” memes posted on the Facebook. the message they conveyed was this:  If your kid does something wrong, it’s all your fault because your a bad parent, and you should be ashamed of yourself.  Yeah.

Firstly, this is an extreme oversimplification.  There are so many factors (and people) that can influence a child’s behavior.  Even if a parent does everything right, their child could still behave in ways that are undesirable.  But hey, maybe some of it is our fault.  Maybe kids wouldn’t lie so much if their parents wouldn’t have overreacted in the past.  Maybe they would have an easier time standing up for themselves if their parents weren’t always talking down to them.  But what good does it do to beat ourselves up about it?  How does it help to bully ourselves, and call ourselves bad parents?   How can we have compassion for our kids if we can’t have compassion for ourselves?  How can we forgive our kids if we can’t forgive ourselves?  How can we love our kids, if we can’t first love ourselves?

You and I are not bad parents.  We are growing parents.  We are learning parents.  We are trying, and getting better every day.  Are we perfect? No, far from it. Do we make mistakes?  Of course.  But maybe our kids don’t need perfect parents.  Maybe what our kids need is someone that can show them how to get up after they’ve fallen down.  how to admit that they’ve made a mistake.  And how to show love and compassion to broken, hurting, imperfect people.

Thanks for reading,

Dadosaurus Rex

http://www.fb.com/thedadosaur

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Coercion is unnecessary (and counterproductive)

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I want to share something with you all, but I don’t want you to get the wrong idea.  I am not trying to impress you.  I am not trying to increase my chances of being awarded ‘Parent of the Year’.  My only goal is to share something that has helped me along my parenting journey, which is this:  Coercion is unnecessary (and counterproductive)

My 2 year old son (Stegosaurus) says thank you.  When he is given something to eat, when a toy is shared with him, whenever he is feeling grateful.  Now, I have not once said to him, “Say thank you,” or, “What do you say?” So now, if you are wondering how such a small creature learns to do this without being told, I will not keep you in suspense.  Tri-Sarah-tops and I thank him when he does something for us.  We thank other people when they do something for him (unless he beats us to it) and we thank each other.  Bam.  Presto.  It really is that easy.  And the best part is that when he says it, he is not saying it because he was told to, but because he knows those words are used to express gratitude.

Ok, how about another example for the remaining skeptics.  Water.  My kids drink water when they’re thirsty.  I have actually had other parents ask me, “Hey, how do you get those kids to drink water?”  Well, when they were younger and said they were thirsty I gave them water.  Tri-Sarah-tops and I drink water when we are thirsty.  We take water with us when we go out, and lastly, we don’t push the issue.  If they ask for juice or milk we give them juice or milk.  Shazam.  No coercion needed.

Now this all may seem like small potatoes, but there are many people out there who are locked in power struggles with their kids over issues as simple and seemingly insignificant as these.  And here is the biggest problem.  Not only are coercion and force unnecessary, they are extremely damaging to any relationship, and can drive a wedge between you and your child.

Thanks for reading,

~Dadosaurus Rex

http://www.fb.com/thedadosaur

A Month Without Radio

“I’ve got a lot on my mind”

This is something that I seem to be saying (either to others, or to myself) more and more lately.  I usually use it as an excuse for forgetting something, or screwing something up.  And it’s true, I do have a lot on my mind.  Cleaning, home repairs, classes and activities for the kids, maintaining a healthy relationship with my wife, staying on top of things at work, pondering the nature of existence (and of course blogging.  Can’t forget that)

So why in Hades would I want to take my only guaranteed quiet time and fill it with unimportant chatter and mindless noise?  It may sound silly, but that is exactly what I do.  I hop in the car, and before I’ve even started down the road I flip on the radio, preventing me from processing all those thoughts that have been bouncing around in my brain.  And if I don’t like what I hear?  I change the station.  Again.  And again.  Till I find something tolerable.  I have even caught myself listening to commercials.  Why?  What value does any of this add?

That is why I have decided to take a break from the radio for the month of march, and see if I can’t gets some thinking done.  I’ll let you know how it works out.

Parent However the F*** You Want

 

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Please.  I’m seriously people.  I need you to do me a favor.  Go ahead and raise your kids in any way you see fit.  Are you a helicopter parent?  Fantastic.  May your rotor never cease its turning (Unless you want it to).  I’m glad you are keeping your children safe.  Or maybe you are sitting on a park bench, eyes fixed on your smartphone while your kids navigate the playground equipment.  Whether it’s because you value independence, you just need a break, or you really do have something important to do on there (really.) is none of my business.  You are doing what you need to do to survive and thrive in your parenting journey.  I appreciate that, and I thank you for it.

Parenting isn’t an exact science, a lot of times we have to go by feel.  What’s best for one family may not work for another.  That’s fine. In fact, it’s so much more than fine.  It’s a darn beautiful thing.  There is no sense in nit-picking, labeling, or tearing each other down.  We’re all doing the best we can in our difficult and oftentimes confusing roles as parents, and we would do well to support each other, even if we have a few variances in style and technique.  Because at the end of the day were all trying to do the same thing:  What’s best for our families.

The only thing that I could offer you in the way of advice is this:  Whatever you do, do it out of love, and not fear.  Act out of compassion, and not compulsion.  Follow your instincts.  Trust yourself,  trust your kids, and parent however the fuck you want.

More things that won’t affect my respect for you as a parent:

  • Your 6 year old uses a pacifier
  • 4 bounce houses, 7 clowns, and 10 piñatas at your kids birthday party (I hope I’m invited)
  • The age your kids potty train
  • Where and when your kids sleep
  • Where (or if) your kids go to school
  • You push your 10 year old in a stroller
  • You nurse your 3 year old
  • You only allow your kids to watch 20 minutes of television a week
  • Your kids binge watch 3 seasons of Pokemon in one weekend
  • You’re religious
  • You’re not religious
  • You eat at Mcdonalds
  • The number of children you have
  • The frequency with which you acquire said children
  • What kind of toys or electronics your kids have

Thanks for reading.

~Dadosaurus Rex

(Hey!  Don’t forget to check out http://www.fb.com/thedadosaur)

It’s OK to Have Unlimited Screen Time

11141203_708424129269470_6321678382145679367_n“But if I let them do whatever they want, they’ll just watch TV and play video games all day!”

This is a very common reaction to the idea of allowing one’s children complete (or even partial) freedom.  They will spend the whole day with eyes locked to a screen, completely cut off from the real world.  I understand this concern.  I have felt the anxiety that comes along with it.  I have tried limiting “Screen Time” in the past, and it has resulted in a painful power struggle that has only two possible outcomes (as is true with any power struggle).  Either I overcome and defeat my children, forcing them to bend to my will, or they are victorious, and I cower in the corner, rocking back and fourth in the fetal position.  I do not find either of these to be desirable.

So, what did I do?  Two things.  One:  I changed my perspective.  Even as adults screens are a very real part of our daily lives, and I would challenge you to add up the amount of “Screen Time” you have in one day.  It took some time, but I realized that my children’s brains would not turn to soup if they spent some time with the TV, computer, or tablet.  (I also found out that the more I relaxed, the happier everyone was)  I allowed them the freedom to choose, and, for a while, they chose to binge watch their favorite TV shows.  But after a while, when they realized that it was no longer a scarce commodity, they relented, and began exploring their other options.

Which brings me to the second thing:  I gave them other options.  There are so many things that most kids would rather do than watch TV or play video games.  Below is a list of things my kids consistently choose over a screen.

  • Light-saber battling
  • Painting
  • Looking for bugs
  • helping to prepare a meal
  • Riding bikes
  • Playing with play dough
  • Recording videos for their YouTube Channel
  • Playing in water
  • Racing
  • “Nature Talking” (An activity invented by parasaurolophus [8] that involves sitting quietly with eyes closed and listening/talking to trees)
  • Going to the park
  • Writing stories (Its even more fun If I staple together a few sheets of white paper, with a colored piece for the cover so they have a little book to write in)
  • Going for a walk
  • Building a snowman
  • Collecting leaves
  • Taking apart broken/old electronics (Last week was the toaster)
  • Doing mazes
  • Reading or being read to
  • Watering the plants
  • Building forts
  • Playing tag

I could honestly go on forever, but you get the point.  Sometimes it just takes a little creativity, initiative, and involvement on my part, but honestly watching movies and playing video games has become a last resort for them, when all other options have been exhausted.

~Dadosaurus Rex

(Be sure to check out my facebook page at http://www.fb.com/thedadosaur)