Over the years I have often thought about what I would choose as my top three most important parent rules, apart from the obvious things of course, like having a sense of humour. Especially the ability to laugh at yourself and at everything that goes wrong and at all the ways you fail to live up to the ridiculously high ideals you set for yourself when you became a parent. Ok, that’s the most important thing.
But apart from that, what are my top three practical parent rules? I’ve got quite a list of things I did when my children were little that, looking back, I wouldn’t do now. And things I did with my first child, and maybe my second, but gave up on by my third because by then I’d learned they didn’t work. I could write a book on that.
But no, I’m going to give you my top three parent rules based on What Other Parents Do. Things that I may have been guilty of myself at some point, but then I saw another parent do it and realised how bad it looked. Or the ways other parents behave which directly affect me, things I have seen which have made me think ‘remind me to NEVER do that!’
So Here Are My Top 3 Parent Rules:
1. Always be the one to discipline your own child
Don’t leave it to other parents because trust me, they won’t like you. When you meet up with friends and kids, everyone’s expecting you to look after your own child: nobody else wants to be the one to publicly discipline yours, they didn’t sign up for that. And don’t expect the other passengers on the train, or in the cafe, to enjoy your child’s bratty behaviour and cheerfully manage it, they expect you to do that. Members of the general public are probably not as judgmental as you think: they don’t mind how you reign your child in, as long as you do it.
2. Never let your child invite himself round to play after school
At the school gate, in front of my child and other parents, don’t stand by as your child invites himself round to play at mine. I am expecting you to say no so that I don’t have to. This is related to number 1, but it goes for any situation where your child is putting an adult in a difficult position in public, like asking if they can have the last piece of birthday cake when they’ve already had three slices, and you wanted just a bit left for later when everyone’s gone home. It’s when I expect the parent to intervene quickly with ‘no’ so that I can either come in with ‘oh no, of course you can!’ or pretend not to have even heard the exchange.
3. Never let your child kick you
Never.Let.Your.Child.Kick.You. EVER. This is AGAINST NATURE. It invokes the wrath of the gods, it causes thunder and lightening, it makes the universe tremble. It looks bad. Be gentle but firm, get angry, whatever, but NEVER LET YOUR CHILD KICK YOU. If ever tempted to let this one go, just think ‘Would Mary Poppins allow it?’ I think that’s the case made. Learn the words ‘I won’t let you kick me’ early on, practice them in your firm no-nonsense voice, and believe it. It will save you an awful lot of work later.
So there you have it. There may be many more that I haven’t thought of, but stick to these three parent rules and I don’t think you’ll go far wrong. You’re welcome.