Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Parenting: A Confession

Here it is, folks: I have no parenting philosophy.

Before we had kids, I never really stopped to consider what "parenting" meant. We had some vague notions about not getting much sleep, telling little people to "Brush your teeth!" and going on family vacations. Mostly the immediate pre-baby time was spent on stuff; namely, staring in a bewildered manner at the aisles and aisles of stuff at Buy Buy Baby, which ended with me running out of the store in tears and Donny standing there helplessly, holding the list of Stuff You Must Have Lest Your Child End Up a Tattooed Juvenile Delinquent Who Never Brushes His Teeth, wondering, for the love of all that is covered in spit up, what the hell are "oh-nay-sies." (Onesies, is the answer. Have I blogged about this story before? It seems vaguely familiar, but I couldn't remember and anyway, you've gotten this far, might as well finish.)

And then our children came, one by one, like the ants, and we began the whole process of child-rearing, sticking close to our non-philosophy philosophy. Which meant that we basically fumbled through, hoping for the best and keeping a sharp eye out for tattoos. I never even read a real parenting book, except for the "What to Expect" variety, which tells you things like, "This month your child will learn to clap!" and if your child learned to clap last month, you feel smug, and if the month passes, clap-free, you panic and break into hysterics, envisioning heartbreaking scenes of your child sitting at their child's Siddur Party, banging pathetically on a tambourine while all the other parents are madly applauding.

Oh, also, I've read the chapters of my own book on parenting, "Leave me Alone So I Can Read the People Magazines from Three Months Ago. Or the Back of a Cereal Box. Please." (My expectations have gotten lower.) 

Anyway, I just figured this was how all parents raised their children. But as I have met more and more parents, it seems that I am in the minority. Lots of parents have parenting philosophies, which include very definite ideas of how they do or do not want to raise their children. They even read books about it. And have discussions. And post things on forums. And sound generally intelligent and non-fumbly.

So my point here is: Am I alone? Do you have a Philosophy or are you a Wing-It-er? Should I put more thought into this whole parenting thing other than idly wondering how much longer it is till bedtime? Tell me your thoughts. Just to try to keep them to cereal-box-length. 


LL said...

Our philosophy is you may have whatever you want in the middle of the night as long as we get to go back to sleep. That is pretty much it.
I want to hear the Onesies story!


miriamp said...

Is Laissez-faire a philosophy? My "philosophy" is try to keep them all fed and clothed, teach them a few life skills (namely cooking and laundry) and hope the rest takes care of itself. But it's pretty flexible and often descends into roll with the punches. (I think you have the right attitude - no parenting philosophy works for every child anyway.)

Gila Rose said...

Libby - lol, that IS the whole story. Donny looking at the list and wondering what an "oh-nay-sie" was. And why we needed so many of them.

Libby and Miriam - I like your pithy words! I should write them down and make a whole chapter of real-life parenting philosophies for my book.

Baila said...

My philosophy is "Try not to kill them". It's not very well formed, and to be honest, since I started reading your blog I've been waiting for your book to come out so I can develop my philosophy. I'm very disappointed to hear how little progress you've made on the book. My kids are almost grown and now they'll probably never have a philosophy.

My poor deprived kids. Try to sleep well tonight, Gila.


Well, how can MOMZ not comment on this one. After all, DADZ and I raised you and your siblings employing our own special philosophy. Ready? Here goes:

Nothing is really that important. Just laugh a lot and have fun.

And you guys turned out great! Right? Right? Gila? Anyone?

DC said...

At a certain point you realize that your kids are people and you go, WTH happened? Did I make them like this? I don't think I did. Well, too late now. After that just try to be reasonable and consistent.

f/e said...

i thought 'leave me alone to read the paper' WAS a philosophy. ok how about 'i am a gardener and my kids are plants, i need to water and watch over them, but they need to grow on their own' (and i can be a scarecrow while reading the paper)

Eliana said...

Gila you seriously rock.

Gila Rose said...

No, YOU guys rock! These comments/philosophies are awesome!

Also - Baila, once your kids age out of "Leave Me Alone, etc etc," you might be ready for MOMZ's parenting book. Momz - does it have a title yet?


Gils, so glad you asked. My parenting book is aimed at the older set, and is going to be called, "Wheeee! They're On Their Own!"

Leah Goodman said...

I want to make sure they feel loved and safe. The other stuff is less critical.

Kathleen said...

I'm definitely a Wing-it-er. I have attempted to read a few parenting books but have never finished one. I'm so glad to hear everyone else's philosophies and I would read yours and MOMZ' books, and even finish them (yes, both books would apply)!

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