I’m always a bit bummed to hear when close friends are pregnant because I know that our friendship will forever be altered. Parents stop being who they are and devolve into secondary beings whose lives are ruled by these little dictators, otherwise known as American brats.
I’m sure I’ll get flak for the above statement, “You wouldn’t know because you’re not a parent. Wait until you have kids of your own. You’ll see. You don’t understand what it’s like.”
I will say that I do have one friend (I can only think of one) who strikes the parenting balance very well. She doesn’t need to read this post, but the rest of you, please continue.
I recently read an article in the Wall Street Journal that made me feel slightly vindicated in thinking that parents these days are losing sight of their own identity. The author, Pamela Druckerman, is promoting her book “Bringing Up Bebe” about her own experience as an American mother raising her kids in France. It is getting the same critical attention Amy Chua received for writing “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother.”
Here is the point that I starred, underlined, and highlighted: “We tend to view whether kids are good at waiting as a matter of temperament. In our view, parents either luck out and get a child who waits well or they don’t.”
She posits that French parenting involves, and possibly centers around “me” time, as in “adult” time. Parenting should not be solely devoted to managing the affairs of your child, running around after them, punishing them, screaming at them, watching them throw tantrums. There should be a set schedule of sleep, meals, play time, and adult time! Most importantly, you need to teach children about delayed gratification. Let them cry. As a friend and new father told me recently, “Kids don’t die from crying.”
Let them be hungry. Ditch the ziplock bag of Cheerios in your purse and let them wait until they’re sitting in their high chair during their set meal time. American children have no self-control. How many times did I snort around the freezer helping myself to bowls (bowls, not scoops) of ice-cream because I was bored! When your kids don’t have their Cheerios when they want them, well hell, your cheery day turns into a teary day. WAHHHHHHH! You know what I’m talking about!
It even starts before your little monster is born. In the book, she describes asking a bewildered waiter if the Parmesan cheese in her pasta is pasteurized. Cuckoo, cuckoo.
Be the parent, the adult, the grown-up. Make the kid fit into your lifestyle instead of you living in their doll house.