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Calling Dear Abby...

I need some advice.

Over the past two weeks a couple of people have said some things to me that have caused me some distress. They relate to my child and my parenting skills. I admit to being not very experienced with children before we got Katie, but she seem to be a fairly normal child.
She is bright, social, strong willed, and sometimes loud.

But according to the folks that talked to me, everything I am doing is inadequate, just plain wrong, or both.

Here it is, days later and I am swinging wildly between anger and grave doubt about my parenting skills.

So, is my child generally cranky, totally undiciplined, and not pleasant to be around?

Should I be "guiding her firmly at all times"?

What should I do?



( 53 comments — Leave a comment )
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Jan. 23rd, 2008 09:36 pm (UTC)
Katie is certainly as well behaved as any child that age I know. Relax, you're doing fine.
Jan. 23rd, 2008 09:47 pm (UTC)
IMHO, the quicker people are to give you advice, the less it's worth. If someone who has seen your kid for an hour or two is giving advice, they're full of crap. You can't know what a child is really like unless you've seen them in a lot of situations over a span of time.
If this is someone who knows you and knows your child (not just "has met"), and has raised kids, then they might have some insight, but even so, such advice has to be used as one person's opinion, at best.
I've never met her so I'm not saying anything on that regard.

Some people think that any child that they can't ignore is "not pleasant to be around." I wouldn't give their parenting advice any weight whatsoever. Such people would have you raise little jigsaw pieces to fit nicely in their little spots and just do what they're told all their lives. Unless they snap and hurt people, that is.

IMHO kids need to be empowered. Very few are these days, and the adults they grow into are not leading society in good directions.
Jan. 23rd, 2008 09:48 pm (UTC)
From what I've seen, and what I know of you, I would say don't worry about these folks. Katie is bright, social, strong willed and sometimes loud. There is nothing wrong with these things. Should you be guiding her firmly at all times? NO WAY! Kids have to learn who they are, and how to control their own "loudness" Personally I think you and Roper are doing a great job.

My personal favourite touchstone for being a good parent is something Judith H said to me once. When you are worried about being a good parent, when you are thinking about how to be a good parent and worrying about it, then you are a good parent. OK thats not a direct quote, but I hope you get the idea.

There is always going to be someone who thinks you should be parenting diferently. try not let them get you down
Jan. 23rd, 2008 09:53 pm (UTC)
Well, I guess the big question is, do *you* find her cranky, undisciplined, and unpleasant to be around? If not, then politely tell the people giving you unsolicited advice to stuff it.

If you seriously are looking for childrearing pointers, I'd suggest finding out (a) do these people have children Katie's age or older, and (b) if so, do you personally think that their children are happier and better behaved than your child? If the answer to either of these questions is "no", or if you have no information about their children, then they probably have nothing useful to tell you. Everybody's full of advice on child-rearing, but the only way to tell if they are doing anything other than blowing smoke is to see how they do themselves when push comes to shove.
Jan. 23rd, 2008 10:24 pm (UTC)

I agree. People who are the most free about giving advice are usually the ones without children. Katie is still pretty young and her behavior reflects the situation (is she hungry, tired, not feeling well, etc).

The other thing is that you and Roper are her parents. You know her better than anyone and parental instincts work pretty well. Some parenting resources that I found (and still do) are the Dr. Sears Attachment Parenting books and the Love and Logic series (this works well from toddler to teen).

The Baby Book: Everything You Need to Know About Your Baby from Birth to Age Two. http://tinyurl.com/34evxv

We've got a collection of CD's that I converted to MP3. I'd be happy to send some over so you can get an idea if you like it. PS: These techniques work on husbands, too. Katie's a bit young for Love and Logic, but they grow up so fast, it's good to stay one step ahead.

Also, just remember that Katie will pick the worst time in the world to misbehave (throw tantrum, etc). It does not reflect on your parenting and every other parent around has been in exactly the same position.
(no subject) - dek9 - Jan. 23rd, 2008 10:31 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jan. 23rd, 2008 09:54 pm (UTC)
Not Abby....no where near.....definitely am a parent (x2), but will admit that there are times that i look at my two with great despair, knowing that i've totally flubbed EVERYTHING. Then again, there are times when i'm so pleased i could bust :) So, taking all that into consideration:

* most parents have doubts about their skills at some (or many) point(s).
* many many people (not always parents) have opinions on childraising, and even those that acknowledge that all people are different can forget that so are all children...therefore what works for theirs may or may not work for yours, and even if it did, you're not them (so may not care)
* as a person who has been around Katie (admittedly not tons, tho some in situations that tend to stress younglings out/bring out the 'bad') my answer to "is my child generally cranky, totally undiciplined, and not pleasant to be around?" is HECK NO! :) I've found her to be quite a joy :) Yes, i've seen her pull "cranky"...but that seems to be more rare than her grins :) I've also seen her parents tell her 'no' and seen her listen (as consistently as any one year old) so there can't be a total lack of discipline :P
* Can't tell you what to do, but can tell you that i've had this happen and tried to learn to give it very little weight. As i said before, i often have doubts, but i often feel good too. Kids add whole new dimensions to the rollercoaster that is Life :) I just try to do the best i can at what *i* think is right, and hope.

For what it's worth, I personally think you're doing great :)

Edited at 2008-01-23 09:56 pm (UTC)
Jan. 23rd, 2008 10:00 pm (UTC)
Oh, and i don't know the folks in question, so it may not apply here....
but the last one who tried to push the "guiding her firmly at all times" mantra was someone who's grown children felt very timid as well as upset about a life under a "dominating, dominering tyrant" *shrug* My person was quite big on the "at ALLLL times" part....your mileage may vary.
Jan. 23rd, 2008 09:57 pm (UTC)
All I can tell you is when we left you guys after lunch, I turned to Greg and said, "Wow Katie listens really well for a 1 year old."

I think you guys are doing great. sheis happy, affectionate and friendly. She is 1 year old and is deciding who she wants to be. Listen to yourself, you are the one who is with her all the time. Don't let other people make you doubt yourself.
Jan. 23rd, 2008 09:59 pm (UTC)
My personal opinion is unsolicited advice/opinion is worth about as much as you paid for it. The only advice/opinion that truly matters is that of the people living inside your house. Everyone else can go get stuffed.

And if it really gets to you... we can just put those people in the same room with Katie and Alex and then they can decide which child is cranky, undiciplined, and not pleasant to be around. And oh boy on the Loud front. :)
Jan. 24th, 2008 11:32 pm (UTC)
Yeah ...
I'll add Wade to the mix. It's his world - we just apparently live around it (or occasionally in it when he decides to re-enter ours briefly...). We'll put the three of them in a room, and then we can tell all the other folks to get stuffed.
Jan. 23rd, 2008 10:10 pm (UTC)
You should ignore people who try to backseat parent. Every parent must find their own style that works best and each child responds differently to the same stimuli. What we do with/for Robin doesn't have the same affect on Melanie and more than your response to something I say would be different from Roper's response.

I tend to believe that parents who try to "guide firmly at all times" are not trying to raise their children to be individuals.
Jan. 23rd, 2008 10:10 pm (UTC)
I don't know who said this (and I HOPE it wasn't me, in a fit of complete obliviousness), but they are wrong.

We each parent the way we see fit, and the way that works best for each of us.

Katie is beautiful, healthy, sweet, smart, strong. You are not inadequate, wrong or either, as a parent (or otherwise, for that matter). The first test is - is she healthy and uninjured? You are already ahead of many. I have an associate - who is a good dad - who swears he has a frequent buyer punch card for the emergency room.

Is she happy? LOOK at her. She is sweet and cuddly and always smiling.

Is she healthy? Sadly, sometimes I think "Wow, you know, they could be off of formula already with Katie" not "Man, they should be taking better care of her". She got a cold - so what? They ALL do - and as one pediatrician told me "They get it now, or they get it later".

She's safe, she's healthy, she's happy. You've hit the good parent hat trick.

Would I do everything exactly the way you do? No - nor would you parent exactly the way I do. That's why Tatum and Katie will not be identical in personality (or one of the many reasons).

I think every day "So, what did I do TODAY that Aidan/Tatum is going to be telling their therapist about in 15-20 years?" We all have doubts about our skills - or at least the GOOD parents have doubts about our skills. That's why we keep trying to be better parents, which is to the benefit of our children.

And as someone who is constantly questioned about parenting choices - we won't talk about by WHOM - it sucks when people do that. And they don't have a right to. The only one who has a *right* to do that is Bill. The rest of us can point out a specific thing might NOT be the best, but it's up to you to make that final decision on if it's ok for your child or not - and I know it my case, it's simply making you aware of something you might not be aware of - something I FULL EXPECT you and everyone else to do. Because I can't be everywhere and see everything. That's one of the reasons that I love the pseudo communal raising of children that fandom has afforded us.

And if we were all perfect parents - IMAGINE the pressure on our kids! They would hate us! I would hate us!

The nicest thing that was said to me on New Year's was Erik Olsen telling me I had great kids.

Katie is a great kid.

You are a GOOD MOM. Read that again. Now read it again.

Nothing better can be said of you.
Jan. 23rd, 2008 10:11 pm (UTC)
As a veteran parent I can tell you that people have no end of advice about parenting skills, and as our old friend Ted Sturgeon said 90% of it is crap. Pick a couple or two who have successfully raised children you like and adopt them as role models. Now if one of THOSE people mention something to you, then consider what they've said.

Other than that, as others have said, if you are pleased with your child's behavior, then you're doing something right.

And while I haven't spent a lot of time with her yet, so far she get's Uncle Skippy's "Keen Kid" seal of approval.
Jan. 23rd, 2008 10:11 pm (UTC)
I know it's hard, but try also to remember the people who have told you Katie is a lovely and wonderful child and that you are doing a great job.

It is very easy to get frustrated and depressed when you've got one with a will of her own (and with parents like you, who would have expected Katie to come out any other way?) From what I've seen both in public and in home she is corrected when she needs it but allowed to explore when she can. What more can you do?

I agree with johnridley
Some people think that any child that they can't ignore is "not pleasant to be around."
- the chances are they either have no kids or someone else takes care of them most of the time.

As ladyat has said, bring Katie by any time. We'd be happy to have her in our home, so that should tell you how we feel about her behavior.
Jan. 23rd, 2008 10:24 pm (UTC)
*grin* So, want to come stay with us for a while? I'm happy to have Katie about any time and, no, I don't make that offer for just anyone. Like, my brother's kids - the girls (Laila and Zahara)? yes. Omar? No, thank you; same goes for some other kids I can mention.

Katie is NOT on that list, and is doing quite well, thank you.

And if it was someone at Confusion saying this? Katie's schedule was WAY messed up over the previous three weeks or so, and that makes a BIG difference. David was a MUCH happier kid on the trip home, when he wasn't being a video zombie in the car and actually got a nap in :-)
Jan. 23rd, 2008 10:37 pm (UTC)
Ok, so what do I know about raising kids? But...I got raised. And I've watched the process at fairly close range a couple of times. So I feel reasonably confident in saying that I do not see any issues here.

Katie is a big girl for her age; we all know that, but people who don't know her well may think that she's already two years old or something. Or maybe they're just busybodies. Lord knows there's a few of those in the world.

As for loud, well, you should have been around when our nephew Brian was 1. He screamed what seemed like 24/7, and he had some pipes. And both boys seemed rowdy to me when they were toddlers. Yet both are now Eagle Scouts, both got full scholarships to U of I, and both are now sane, sensible young men poised to get advanced degrees and high-paying jobs.

Demanding that a 1-year old be "disciplined" is a little like trying to teach differential equations to a five-year-old who might be able to count to 20. You have to take these things in their natural order. If you do, they'll happen. You are. They will.

Worry less. Enjoy her more. She will be a different person in a year, and yet another one a year after that. Kids shed skins like that regularly as they hurtle toward maturity. Remember them all, because they are the clearest sign we have of God's creative hand at work in the world.
Jan. 23rd, 2008 11:09 pm (UTC)
Katie is a big girl for her age; we all know that, but people who don't know her well may think that she's already two years old or something. Or maybe they're just busybodies. Lord knows there's a few of those in the world.

Note for those who don't have their own kids: don't look at their size; look at what they are doing as a better indication of their age (well, behavioral age, anyhow)
Jan. 23rd, 2008 10:38 pm (UTC)
I remember the terifying feeling of "why don't these things come with a manual?" when we took Theo home from the hospital.

I too haven't seen Katie much, but she seems to be normal, happy, and interactive.

Did these persons have specific issues? "Loud" is how any gregarious, energetic person could be described, and I would definitely expect Katie to take some time learning about "inside voice", considering her exuberant parentage . (and I mean that in a *very* complimentary sense, in case you wondered - I do admire your outgoing nature!)

Are there techniques for dealing with a loud child? Of course - you already know many of them, no doubt, and are in the process of refining others. But some of it will only be learned by Katie as she gets older and goes into more structured environments, like nursery school and kindergarten. At this stage, it's your job to support her basic nature and show her how to deploy it effectively, not repress it.

I have every confidence you will succeed spectacularly.


PS when you get to the stage of driving Brownie Troops and/or Little League teams, ask me about the "Two-minute Scream". Practically miraculous.
Jan. 23rd, 2008 10:40 pm (UTC)
I'll sum up my thoughts on folks who give that sort of unsolicited advice:

They do not know you.
They do not know your child.
They are often not professionals.

If all they can tell you is that you are doing it wrong...

Fuck em.

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