By David Jensen
Copyright 2017 by David Jensen
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Please do not let this story’s cover mislead you, for I am totally against raising the hand against either children or women.
It just seemed like a catchy cover photo and if you, faithful reader made it this far, then the photo most certainly did its job of rousing your interest!
“As long as communication exists, the hand shall not be raised!”
As the years go by and our society continues to change, I see children growing up without the support they need from their homes, children who apparently didn’t have rules to obey, moral support, and so forth. This is saddening for they are a mirror reflecting our changing human nature nowadays. It is also a crystal ball that is showing us just how bad our societies will become in the future.
As I am now in an age that we have raised three sons who are all pretty much self-sustaining, and now due to the fact that my wife does homework assistance with the neighbors seven year old twins, it occurred to me that this is one subject I could really write about. Some more non-fiction, so to speak. This will be not only for actual parents but also for those who are contemplating it.
One evening while we were all together, (and yes we are parents whose children drop by for a visit or to lend a helping hand, as often as they can), simply talking about everything and nothing, he said; “You did a good job raising us!” And all the time invested in raising our children was rewarded with that one sentence, because it is priceless, and something honest which money just can’t buy!
Now I realize that there are literally hundreds of books one can read about the subject of parenting, with methods ranging from Anti-Authoritarian ‘Spare the rod and spoil the child’ to figuratively confining and forming children to the point of becoming Clones . The problem is that they are so narrow sighted and have only one mind set, for raising a child is a mixture of constantly changing variables. Each parent, child, environment and culture is different, its own little universe, and cannot even be compared to your neighbors or friends who will or do already have children. Sure there are parallels, but each parent/child constellation has its variables, and that is the key to good parenting. Do not, as the saying goes: “Try to keep up with the Jones’s!”
“To be or not to be, that is the big question!”
To those who read this and are contemplating on having a (or more) child, there are things that you maybe have heard about, but dismiss them as fairy tales, old wife’s tales, and archaic obsolete methods. It is natural that one would think that, due of lack of experience, but one must be prepared to relegate most of the free time to the children, and not to mention the fact that raising children IS expensive. But most new parents will say that it is only in the beginning, and it gets better as they grow older. WRONG. The expenses change and will increase proportional to age, but the time spent with the children is the same, only different because BOTH of your lives (you AND your child) are constantly fluctuating and changing, so without even thinking about it, slowly but surely you’ll integrate them into your free time, up until the time they move out of the house and are adults. But it doesn’t end there because parents (good ones) still help their children whenever they need it.
There is the saying: “An unwanted pregnancy” which I never really understood. In my eyes such a thing doesn’t exist. There has and always will be alternatives to have fun and still remain childless, and since when are contraceptives and condoms available on the market? And lots of couples make the decision to remain childless, be it due to egoism, fear of passing on inheritable maladies, the knowledge that they simply aren’t up to the job of parenting, or the fear of failing as a parent. For those who are not sure of success, do not fear. For the only perfect parent is a grandparent! Because, as I stated before, we have experience, and we also know that hectic, aggression, or threats accomplish nothing but negative results. Basically said, if one is not 100% sure, then wait, for it is senseless to think of, or force oneself into unpremeditated parenting. It only results in ad hoc child education, and that is all that raising a child is, educating it to be a substantial addition to society.
Those couples that are medically incapable of bearing children, and the few percent that would pass on an inheritable disease, could still adopt a child, for everybody knows there are enough parentless children out there who would give anything for a stable family and home. And no matter for which reasons some couples make the decision to remain childless, I really feel sorry for them, for they are truly missing out on the best thing in life.
“Rules of Engagement”
Although some might find the military terminology strange, but ‘rules of engagement’ is exactly the first thing you start from birth onwards. I somewhere heard once the phrase “A child without rules is lost”, and it is the truth. Children WANT to have rules to help them steer their way through childhood. Mayhap some think that a newborn child doesn’t understand rules, and it is true, but rules start with newborns in the form of classical conditioning. When a baby cries and it’s picked up immediately, it learns faster than you think, ‘I get attention as soon as I cry out’. Sometimes the crying is when waking up, and they fall asleep again, or start their baby syllables. An infant will and does take advantage of Pavlov’s conditional training, but infants cry in various ways, as any mother will testify. Hunger/thirst, being uncomfortable with a wet or full diaper, pain, or simply to get attention, each crying has a different tonal quality to it, and deciphering the difference is important. It is important to get the fundamental conditioning right from the start, for as they grow you will see a happy contented baby. I’ve seen babies that were never happy, either being held in the arms or on the floor, or otherwise. After observing the parents, I could understand why. When both parents have two totally different rules then it can never work. The parents have to be on the same wavelength otherwise even a one year old is already smart enough to know that daddy always gives in when mommy already said no. By uncertainty, the best answer is always no, rather than yes.
So your baby is fed and he’s falling asleep in your arms, so you lay him in his crib to sleep. He falls deep asleep like a rock, until that is half of the relatives stop by and want to take him out and carry him around. Hold your ground and tell them no, for it disturbs: the baby’s sleeping pattern, your conditional training, you (because now that the child has been roused from his sleep and is ornery, you are the one that has to calm him down), and you get to hear all sorts of good advice about why he is suddenly crying. Tell them that you just laid him down and to let him sleep. If they don’t like your attitude, tough shit! It’s your child, they have (or had) their own children to experiment with. If you let something like the above mentioned example happen, you will later on hate yourself for not standing up for what you believe is right, not to mention the fact that you lost a little bit of your precious free time in the bargain. Never give in to peer pressure!
And speaking of peer pressure, as the child grows and learns, he will off and on attempt to break the rules with temper tantrums when he knows there is an audience for him. All I can say on that subject is: “Let them scream!” 1) A grandchild and her Grandma departed the train, and the child threw herself on the ground flailing and screaming so as to get her way with whatever she wanted at the time. When the child realized that Grandma was ignoring her and kept on walking away, the child quickly got up and ran to Grandma, to walk peacefully out of the crowded train station hand in hand. 2) A lady at the public swimming pool moved around with her blanket and towel to different spots on the grass for almost two full hours! Reason being was because her child wanted an ice cream, and with her refusal and him having a very large audience, he cried the whole time. When he noticed that she had moved to another spot and he was losing the battle, he had followed her. Finally, he realized that it wouldn’t work, and as if transformed into a different child, he was peacefully leaning on his mother while she read her book.
So the two children in the examples attempted to: break the conditional training, create their own borders, and figuratively overthrow the Queen Mom through the peer pressure of others. Almost every time I go shopping, I’ll see some child (sometimes 9-10 year olds!) crying like a two year old because the mother was strong in her convictions and refused her childs wish, and if I can get the child to look at me, I’ll give him a shameful look and shake my head in disbelief. Sometimes it’s enough to make the child stop immediately, for he realizes that there is someone in the audience who thinks like his mother!
Millions of examples can be given about fighting off the peer pressure, but simply said, stay firm in what you believe because it is an ongoing process until the child moves out of the house and takes the dog with him!
Every couple needs to set rules and agree on them, because like I pointed out, children love rules! We had lots of rules and sometimes it was simply things like: you cannot say that you dislike food when you haven’t tried it first or, no dessert when you haven’t finished your plate. This is especially important when children are allowed to start serving themselves for it teaches them: 1) to take only a reasonable portion which they can finish eating and 2) not to purposely take all of one thing so that the other siblings come up short. And with more than one child you will always have rivalry between the siblings, no matter how much you try to avoid it. It’s Mother Nature at her best when siblings get together at any age; therefore it is even more important that every child follows the exact same rules. Still, even though they have the same rules, they will still fight amongst themselves.
“The Wrestling Arena”
Siblings have arguments which range from calling each other names, to literally all out fist fights. (As a young boy I watched my two older brothers beat each other to a pulp in the front yard one night. Both were well trained in the martial arts, and my father sat on the steps to watch and probably drive one or both to the hospital! No idea how it ended as my mother caught me watching and sent me to my room.) It always was and always will be so, because survival of the fittest is embedded in our genetic coding. If the siblings in the other room are simply calling each other harmless names and arguing loudly, go on alert and listen if the language becomes vulgar or derogatory beyond your own personal beliefs, or if it starts to escalate into bodily fighting, otherwise the best thing is to leave them alone to work out their differences themselves. By our children, the borderline was the usage of vulgar language, (and the guilty one always knew that they used a wrong word when we walked into the fighting), or bodily fighting. If they wanted to bodily fight with the other, then they had to wrestle on the living room floor or outside on the grass. Wrestling only, without hitting or biting the opponent, and most times it ended up with the two having fun wrestling while we played referee. It makes them learn for later on in life that, sometimes they are not always right, and they learn to discuss things intelligibly without getting mean and fighting. Oh, and also that sometimes it is much wiser to walk away rather than fight a battle you cannot win.
“Ghost, Goblins and other Fairy Tales”
First of all, I’m not an advocate of television, unless it’s an animal documentary or something that possess some form of intelligent learning for children. But from experience I understand that it’s sometimes necessary to place the children in front of the electronic babysitter, but instead of ‘Tom and Jerry’ or ‘Sponge Bob’, tune to the Discovery Channel or another of its kind, and let them watch and learn about Elephants and Tigers in Africa! If the parents have done a good job so far, they can animate them to read children’s books, and read to the younger siblings, which in its cycle, animates them to try to read like the older ones! But this is about parents who refuse to read, or let read, fables and fairy tales. They are rules printed out on paper that always have some sort of lesson to learn, and although some parents have read them as children, they refuse them to their own! And they are all about Fantasy, which is okay in its own rights because a little fantasy is needed by children. And what about the parents who never teach their children about Santa Claus, the reindeer at the north pole, or celebrate Easter by hunting Easter eggs? They say that their children don’t need to learn lies, but I believe it’s great for them. And they’ll learn soon enough as they grow older that it all doesn’t exist. Ghost and Goblin stories can be good stories, as long as you emphasize that they don’t really exist, otherwise you’ll have a midnight visitor in your bedroom due to nightmares! But when they are still small, that is a nice time when they cuddle up for protection. It only becomes a problem when your alarm clock rings at Five o’clock in the early morning hours for you to go to work!
“Monkey see, Monkey do!”
This small chapter is a no-brainer, because everybody knows what the title is about! They are all around us and watching our every move, and children, (regardless if they’re yours or not), learn from us by mimicking our actions and especially our speech. These two aspects are a big thing with children, and it is amazing how they watch you as the day goes by. As far as imitating your speech and Grammatik, you can only try and keep on trying to be a good example, even when sometimes different words slip out when you bang your head! Also important is when one talks on the phone, and forgets that the children are in hearing distance. Unless it’s a recipe from Grandma or talking about the weather, treat your conversations as if the children were spies. Many people forget that and are surprised what their children know about, things that should have been kept secret from them!
“Pets and other Hobbies”
Unless you suffer from several allergies, children and pets go hand in hand as they grow to be young adults. Not only do they learn responsibility for another one other than ones self, they learn that when you have started something, you follow it through till the jobs finished. Our three sons have had the equivalent to a small zoo throughout the years, a Dog, (mine), many Cats, Gerbils, Praying Mantis, a Scorpion, and lots of other insects. (We had to draw a borderline when it came to Snakes and Spiders!) Small children may not be able to clean the Gerbil cage, but they are their animals, and water and food is their responsibility. If they refuse then simply explain that you don’t need to feed them, like they don’t feed their animals. I know that it sounds harsh, but they will get the point and after that it will be normal that they care for their pets as good as possible.
Integrate children by telling them that ‘we’ need to take the pet to the Veterinarian. It’s another responsibility they have to learn and they also see that their animal has to get shots just as they do. That also pertains to euthanizing an animal, because it’s humane and they have the chance to say goodbye. (And they’ll believe the Veterinarian’s explanation more than your reason anyways!) That may sound strange, but it is much better than; “You took Woofy away!”
Dogs and Cats are also the best comrades for your children, they listen to them and won’t tattle to the parents, and they also make for great cuddling.
And of course children need to take up hobbies even if they are only for a short time, because there is always something to learn from them. Integrating them into work around the house or your own hobbies will maybe awaken an interest in them, for example: how can a child know he likes to build things with wood if you never give him a hammer, nails, a dull saw and a scrap piece of wood! And if he injures himself take it easy, for hammered fingers heal and cuts can be bandaged. Never yell at them about the injuries, because one only has to see how we as adults injure ourselves, , and most times out of carelessness although we know better.
“Friends will be friends”
This is a very touchy subject and possibly the hardest one when raising children, for it has many facets. Your children will have friends which range from acceptable in your house to deportable over the border! They will be friends with others who have different or no religious beliefs, different races, and a potpourri of other ‘little’ things. They have to find their own way through their friendships, the ups and downs, the back-stabbers, and yes, even those who are known to use drugs. But it doesn’t mean your child will automatically start using drugs just because their friends do! Be respectable to their friends, regardless what you think of them, because belittling the friends only directs your children in the other direction. Your child will also attempt to become an equal to their friend, (He has Nike shoes, why can’t I?) and that’s natural up to a certain degree. (Webster’s Dictionary states: a feeling that one must do the same things as other people of one’s age and social group in order to be liked or respected by them.) But just because the friend is allowed, you can still forbid your own child. They are going through a phase, and the friends will come and go as the years go by, but keep a sharp eye on your child! Oh, and spy’s are allowed as long as the child never finds out! We had them!
“Mirror, mirror on the Wall…”
When your child happens to do something really stupid, and I mean all out ignorant of his safety or his prospects of a happy future, take a real deep breath and count slowly to ten. This has been one of my all time favorites during the course of many years until the birds left the nest. We always have to look backwards in time, and think about all of the things WE did as children or young adults. “Oh yeah, remember when we did this or that?” or the best quote of all: “Boy, were we lucky that we didn’t get caught!” I always tried to think back to all the hair-brained, stupid, and sometimes deadly dangerous things I did in my youth, (snowboarding in my street shoes at 70 mph while holding on to the cars side mirror!), and most times I can only laugh at what my children did because compared to me and my youthful ‘events’, what they did seemed harmless! (One time our garage looked like NASA Control due all the computers my son and his friends had built up for a LAN party. One father said it was better than what he sees as a police officer at nights, and I said; “Or what we did in our youth?” He laughed and said; “Oh lord! What they’re doing is harmless compared to all that!”) So keep it in mind to always look back at your own youth, before going nuclear!
“I’m more sad than mad but I still love you!”
This pertains to punishment, which is another difficult subject as each child is unique and each one will accept the punishment differently. The punishment should never be draconian; rather ‘less is sometimes more’ because they expect the worst. By dealing out a milder punishment, it takes the wind out of their sails, making them think more about WHAT they did rather than being blindly offensive to the punishment. And as the chapter title says; “I’m more sad than mad but I still love you!” is one of the best punishments for a lot of the little things which went wrong for your child. You don’t punish him, rather he punishes himself with the reflection that he let you down, made you sad, but still, at the same time you still love them. Believe me, it works like a charm! I mentioned Draconian Punishment, and the worst one is sending your child to bed in the evening with an empty stomach. Notice that I didn’t say eating at the table? A parent who sends their child hungry to bed deserves a three month tour in a swampy bamboo cage in Vietnam! If you have set a punishment with a time limit, (for example: house arrest for the next week), never break it unless it is due to a family emergency and there is absolutely no other choice. If you hold them to the punishment regardless of how difficult it is for YOU, then it is again the monkey see-monkey do principle. You stayed firm to your word, which is another piece of the educational process.
Finding out which punishment is appropriate for each individual child and relative to what went wrong is a learning process that all parents have to go through, so if you fail, and sometimes you will, learn for the next episode.
“Always could, never should”
In all that you attempt to teach your child, try to utilize the word ‘could’ instead of ‘should’, because ‘could’ gives him the respect and the responsibility of making his own choice, whereby ‘should’ sounds like an order without the freedom of choice. (And when could turns into should have, then punishment is necessary), I know that sounds strange, but it works! Even after they have all moved out and are on their own, offer advice either when they ask for it, or if you want to give them advice, never say ‘should’.
This was simply a quick guide for some good rules and ways to make it easier to raise children, for if I went into real detail it would become a tome larger than all Harry Potter books put together! Raising children is similar to the innards of a clock. When all the gears, rods and levers are present and in working order, it runs like clockwork!
And with all of these rules and ideas, I can only say; “We’ve been there, done that!” And don’t forget, the only perfect parents are grandparents!
“Home is where your children love to come home to!”
But only if you did a good job!
Thank you for reading my story. If you enjoyed it, (or didn’t and would like to make me see my mistakes so I can improve my writing), won’t you please take a moment to leave me a review at your favorite retailer, post a link on Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Redit or Pin it, or any of the many other social media sites. Thank you! David Jensen – Author
With the continuing decline of society where both parents are required to be employed to make the household budget stable, all the more important it becomes that we as parents do the very best we can in the educational raising of our children. For regardless what we may think, they are the mirrored images of us, and of our future, but only if we do a good job. This is a simple compilation to assist young parents as they get started. (Or scare those in contemplation away from it!)