Adjusting Your Parenting
Parenting itself is a strange occupation. It certainly is the most important and amazing thing any person will ever undertake.
It’s also the most ridiculous.
Even Ikea gives you bookshelves to build with an instruction manual that any language can at least minimally understand. Sure, there are some parts left over but as long as they stand up you’re good, right? Kids?! They have no instructions. You’re given this little thing that changes not just on a daily but almost hourly basis and you’re supposed to understand what it needs by the tone of its screaming.
It must be internal wiring, then, that allows us to hear those variations in tone and pitch that get us to understand “nope…not hungry. Must be the diaper needs changing.” That…and the fact that we feed them, then change them, then rock them anyway and get them to sleep.
But those early days, the days where only the most basic needs are the things that babies require, are universal. Everyone from our ancestors to our grandparents to our parents went through these days and apart from the types of diapers and “Diaper Genies” and pre-measured baby formula, there’s not much difference there.
It’s when they start to talk that things changed.
I even saw things change from one child to the next.
I remember when my oldest child, now 21, sat on my lap in front of a massive PC and played CD-ROM games with me that had The Cat in the Hat along with Green Eggs and Ham and Little Critter. It was like Sesame Street on a computer.
Now I’m at teenager phase with the other three kids.
My example of good parenting is no farther than a generation up from me, my own parents. So when I became a single dad after losing my wife in 2011, I stuck to that example.
The problem became twofold, though. First: I was alone, there weren’t two of us parenting anymore. So I had to adjust my time spent acting like the at-home parent to when I was at home.
Second: times have changed.
I rode my bike everywhere and grew up in a really small town. We rode a three-wheeler in the snow and played baseball or football or basketball all day long. We had an Atari 2600, but even that got old after awhile and you went outside and played all day.
Today we all have cell phones. That little thing in our hands has more power than even the most powerful videogame system I ever owned as a kid. The graphics look more real on my phone than the Sci-Fi movies I saw as a kid.
So what do you do?
You adjust. My kids have their video games but they also have time. They go to the park. You adjust to technology. There are 700 channels but rarely anything on television. You mix the old with the new. Where they want to listen to Kendrick Lamar you mix in some Sam and Dave in the middle of it so they hear the greats. You play Clapton after they hear Black Keys and Hendrix after 21 Pilots.
And while you adjust you also tell them how life isn’t all that different. You are here, stable, holding them and shaping their day just like your parents did.
Technology and society may have changed and you have had to adjust to them. Still, your basics remained the same: you’re there. So no matter where they are you will be there.
That’s not much of an adjustment.