Parenting Tips from Curious George

Most of the time I consider myself a hack as a dad. I feel like I fumble through and do an ‘ok’ job of being a dad. Every now and then I will have a stellar moment where I am an epic dad, but honestly I think I thrive on mediocrity as a parent.

It seems like I am always reacting my boys rather than being proactive and thinking ahead. It’s almost like they are always one step ahead of me. I know the right things to do, I actually possess the skills needed to be an epic parent all of the time. I am certified to teach the Model Approach to Partnership in Parenting & the Systematic Training for Effective Parenting.

So why does it always feel like I’m behind the gun?!?

I don’t know the full & complete answer to this question, but part of the answer is attitude.

My attitude.

I sometimes look at parenting as an inconvenience that I’m stuck with. There is truth to this – I am stuck with it… however, I am here thanks to choices I made with regard to engaging in potentially reproductive activities. I only have myself to blame.

Parenting is not an inconvenience. It is in fact one of the greatest responsibilities and privileges we could ever have. Being a parent isn’t synonymous with having a fulfilling life, don’t hear me saying that. I am saying if you are a parent it adds fulfillment to your life, though.

So where does Curious George fit into all this? One thing I’ve noticed about the man with the yellow hat is that he expects George to do something crazy, off the wall, destructive and troublesome. He is a monkey after all. And when George does whatever crazy things George is going to do, the man with the yellow hat is always like, ‘George, you can’t work on the plumbing for the apartment building!’, or ‘George, you can’t direct all the trains!’, or ‘George, pigeons are not allowed in the house’, or ‘George, this painting (all over the walls) is spectacular!’.

The man with yellow hat expects George to make a mess, break stuff and get into trouble… he’s a monkey. The man with the yellow hat loves him anyway & gently guides him in the proper direction.

Herein lies the lesson, our kids are kids and they should be expected to NOT act like adults and to make messes. They are kids. My response needs to be more like the man with the yellow hat who has appropriate expectations and gently guides George along when those expectations are met and there is a BIG mess to clean up.

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The Power of a Word

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This isn’t something that others haven’t already exhausted the discussion on. Having three small children (3 boys – 6, 4, 1) it is imperative to recognize the power of our words and what they communicate to others, especially our kids.

There are two ways which words have great power when it comes to our children come to my mind.

The first is when we use words that can really cut and hurt them. Like when we flippantly criticize their work or efforts. Using words which demean or put down our children stick with them. Worthless, useless, nothing, stupid. These words all have lasting effects on our kids. Sometimes we don’t even mean to do it. It may be that we are just too preoccupied to pay attention to what they are trying to communicate to us that we in effect blow them off telling them they don’t matter. Obviously, removing the negative down-talking from the dialogue we have with our children is essential. But equally essential, is to put your own preoccupations on hold and give your child some attention when they need it. Being a parent is about caring for your child’s needs, not your needs anymore.

The second way is by making a promise and then not keeping it. This often gets done when we are trying bribe them to behave. We want good behavior so we promise something they would want with no intention of following through. Children are like spongy elephants. They absorb everything and they never forget it. If you promise something, you have to make good on your word.

This isn’t the authority on parenting, but it may be a good place to start.

Watch what you say, little ears are listening.