I have sat all day in a tiny little wooden chair talking to parents of preschool children, filling their heads with images of their smiling darlings hard at work and doing nothing but gently gliding through our classroom and joyfully sharing classroom materials all day long with nary a word of discontent. I listened as the lead teacher glossed over the incident with the boy who tried to shove a tack in his eye because he didn't want to do his Kindergarten work. Or as she told the parents of the boy that I shall not label that he is coming around socially when he isn't, even as the mom expressed her concern that her son might not be progressing normally. I smiled and nodded because that is what I am paid to do. But here is what I really wanted to say. These are my parenting rules to live by:
Rule #1: A clean child is a sign of a sick parent. A child who never has dirty finger nails, spilled food on his shirt or a swatch of dirt smeared across his forehead is not being allowed to explore his world or feed himself. Let the kid get exposed to germs. He will be healthier for it.
Rule #2: If your child falls and there is no blood or obviously distorted bone, don't rush in to save your child. Chances are your child does not have a broken bone or a gaping wound and will be better off for picking herself up off the ground. If you always rescue her, she will NEED to always be rescued.
Rule #3: Children must experience danger. They must climb tall things and swing great heights. They must cross a street. If they never experience danger, they will never learn to think before they leap.
Rule #4: Children must play outside without adult interaction everyday. Period. Let them play. Only interfere when absolutely necessary.
Rule #5: Children must be allowed to experience boredom. No child needs to be entertained every second of every minute of every day. Let them be bored. Tell them to entertain themself and leave all electrical appliances OFF!
Rule #6: Children must be read to or with every night. No excuses. I don't care how busy you are, how tired you are, how overscheduled you are, how resistant your child is. I DON'T CARE! You are the parent and it is your responsibility to read to your child. It matters to their development. Trust me, IT MATTERS!
Rule #7: No means no. If you are going to use this word, mean it! Don't waffle back and forth and cave in the end. You make it impossible on a teacher.
Rule #8: Do not tell you child Santa won't bring anything if they are not good. This sets him or her up for failure. He or she tries so hard to be good around you, that they have to melt down someplace else safe, usually school.
Lastly, Rule #9: If you think there is something wrong with your child, trust your instincts. You know your child best. But if a teacher is trying to tell you that a second opinion is needed, listen. A second opinion never hurts and can only help, especially if the teacher is wrong.
Phweww, I feel better. Feel free to add your own parenting rules. I'm sure Anonymous thinks I am being Rude and Angry again, and maybe I am. But I'll tell you, I follow my own rules. I love the children I work with in spite of some of the parenting they have received. Over the years I have seen the best and the worst of parents. And don't think I am targeting one specific kind of parent. Today I sat talking to a 20 year old mom who has the best 3 year old girl in the world and the mom is the most grounded, responsible, caring mom I've ever met. If a 20 year old can pull it together to parent, why can't we all?