Why you should Stop reading Parenting books

Why you should Stop reading Parenting books

As a father of two children, one of whom is soon to become a teenager, I’m always surprised by the shear number of books available for expectant mothers and confused fathers. I’m also utterly flabbergasted by some of the utter trite the authors peddle which is why you should stop reading parenting books immediately.

Some of the advice in these books is quite unbelievable, so I’ve decided to use my parenting experience to dispel some of the advice.

Playing white noise to help a baby sleep

This is, in my opinion, utter bollocks. The idea was suggested by a doctor who published a book (obvious money-spinner) and decided that white noise is great for babies as they are used to noise and don’t like quiet environments.

I can count on one hand the times that we struggled to get our children to sleep and when we did have a problem we just played a storybook on a CD player in the bedroom. This would very quickly lull the baby/toddler to sleep; it worked like a charm and I regularly suggest it to new parents who report great success.

Some parents, however, decide to adopt the idea of playing white noise to help the baby sleep. If you’ve ever had the misfortune of hearing one of these devices you’ll know how annoying they are. The baby sleep and everyone else has to put up with a terrible hissing noise that sounds like a 1940’s wireless.

Instead of subscribing to this idea, just make sure you don’t make your home silent when your child goes to bed. Keep the TV or radio on. Have conversations. Cook and do the washing up. Your baby will quickly adapt and as they grow they’ll be used to sleeping in an environment where the rest of the family doesn’t have to tiptoe around as soon as the baby goes to bed.

Setting an ‘optimal’ temperature in the babies bedroom

There are thousands of parents buying baby monitors which not only allow you to talk back to your child but also to consistantly monitor the temperature of their bedroom. This does very little other than add completely uncessary stress to the parents who end up walking around looking at a temperature read-out every 5 minutes.

Throw the thermometer out of the window – you don’t need this overpriced piece of paranoid crap. Humans have this thing called a central nervous system. This built-in system makes you know if you are hot or cold. Walk in the bedroom. If it feels just a tiny bit chilly that’s OK – your child is wearing clothes and has covers on them. If the room feels too warm then the room is too warm; turn the heating down.

It really is that simple and another reason why you should stop reading parenting books.

Don’t leave your baby to cry to sleep

I find this one very interesting. Apparently an ‘expert’ decided that letting a baby cry themselves to sleep will result in separation anxiety or in the child hating you in later life. This theory is now being peddled accross the internet leaving yet more parents in limbo with some parents calling the practice “Victorian”.

Now of course you don’t want to leave your baby to cry if you’re unsure they are safe. Crying can be a sign of pain or illness. Remember though that your baby learns very quickly and will soon realise that if they cry they get attention.

There comes a point where all parents will have to decide whether to let the baby cry it out or not. My advice is this: of you know the baby is doing it for attention then leave them alone and let them cry it out. Yes it’s hard and no one likes to do it but if you don’t then you’ll always be running into the childs bedrrom every five minutes and they will wrap you round their little finger before you have time to realise what’s happened.

There is evidence to support this. Marsha Weinraub, Professor of psychology at Temple University in Philadelphia found that babies should be left to go to sleep on their own, even if that meant they cried for a bit, after conducting research on the sleep patterns of 1,200 children from birth to 3 years.

There is no rule book for parenting.

The above are just some of the reasons why you should Stop reading baby and toddler parenting books. Most of them are written by people to make money, nothing else. Each author is looking for that next trend (fad) to help promote sales.

Instead, use common sense. Speak to friends. Ask your own parents or family. There is no rule book when it comes to being a parent and billions of babies have grown into adults quite safely without silly noises and ridiculous monitors.

Stop buying into these ideas – stop buying the silly books – Why you should Stop reading Parenting books – stop adding unnecessary pressure to your life.

Be a parent. Enjoy it. Don’t stress it.

Setting Rules for Grandparents

Setting rules for grandparents can be a difficult (but often necessary) task. Grandparents are often more relaxed with boundaries than they were with their own children, and the rules that applied to you as a child may not be translating to your own children by Nanny and Granddad.

The problem with setting rules is that without gentle approach and appropriate discussion, tensions can develop between parents and grandparents resulting in misunderstanding, tension, and sometimes even arguments.

Set boundaries early

It’s important that you set boundaries early on to define your rules clearly. If you don’t allow your children to eat a certain food or carry out a particular activity, make it clear from the beginning.

For example, if you only allow your children to eat organic food then your parents should respect that decision. Just make sure that you provide the food for them – there’s no reason that should be expected to pay for your expensive decisions.

It’s at this point when it may be necessary to acknowledge the advice of grandparents, but at the same time nip it in the bud. Rather than dismissing their advice out of hand, perhaps saying something like “thanks for the idea, Mum. I’ll have a think about it” or “we have already discussed that Dad, but decided it’s not the way we want to go forward”. Be firm, but tactful.

Prepare to be flexible when setting rules for grandparents

You can’t expect to ask your parents to look after your children without being a little flexible. One of the reasons that children form such strong boundaries with their grandchildren is that grandparents are allowed to be a little less strict than mum or dad. Even a little twist of a rule can make grandparents more fun, but never-the-less when setting rules for grandparents they should be respected.

Thousands of grandparents now take the place of babysitters on a daily basis. Don’t expect your parents to look after your child – for free – and then expect to treat them as a childminder. That’s unfair and will eventually result in arguments.

Grandparents are allowed to spoil their grandchildren once in a while

No one wants their child to grow up to be spoilt, but it’s a grandparent’s prerogative to spoil their grandchildren every now and then. It may be that they allow your child to have that bar of chocolate before bed against your usual rule-set, or let them have hot chocolate for breakfast. Accept this as being what makes being with grandparents that little more fun than being stuck at home in the daily routine with mum and dad.

Stand your ground

There will be times when you have to enforce your rules, and that’s OK. I can think of a couple of occasions where my own mother has gone ‘too far’ with stretching the rules and my partner and I have had to take this up.

It’s never easy to have this conversation without feeling a little guilty, but it’s ultimately important that you do before things boil over into a huge row.

Remember your parents have done this before!

It’s easy to get stuck in your own little world of routines and rules, but remember that your parents have been here before. They raised you, afterall!

Accept that they have experience in most matters of bringing up a child and value their opinion. You don’t have to do everything they suggest, but you may find that listening to what they have to say will help you.

Setting rules for grandparents should be about fair and clear boundaries, not being a dictator.

Tread carefully around your in-laws

However close (or not!) that you are to your in-laws, the chances are that it’s likely you’re not as close to them as your other half. It’s therefore vital that you exercise caution when speaking about your concerns as this may be viewed as a criticism. It may therefore be necessary for you to ask your partner to approach them with any concerns rather than doing it yourself.

The On Demand Generation: a severe lack of patience

On Demand Generation

It’s fair to say that children have never been known for their high levels of patience, but it seems that the On Demand Generation of children are finding it even more difficult to wait.

Like most parents, we limit the screen time that our children have. We use Microsoft Family Safety to limit the number of hours per week they can use their laptops for and we actively encourage them to play outside and watch less TV. We don’t have a games console and our eldest is allowed limited time of TV in his bedroom.

Still, both of our children suffer with a lack of patience. It’s not just restricted to our kids, either. I carry out volunteer work with young people and they’re pretty much all the same. They just can’t wait. They want everything to be instant and the idea of waiting is almost painful for them.

Why? I believe that the On Demand Generation is the result of the modern on demand lifestyle – the ability to get what they want almost instantly. I’ll explain why:

 

On demand TV & Films

When I was a kid, watching the latest release meant going to the cinema. Failing that, you’d have to wait for a video van man to come around or go to the video shop to hire it. Even then, you weren’t guaranteed you’d see the film as someone else might have beaten you to hire it first. You would have to wait, and this taught you how to improve your levels of patience.

Nowadays, On Demand Generation can watch what they want instantly. Whether it’s streaming from a service like Netflix or watching a video on Youtube, they can get what they want when they want it. And even the new releases can be found in the dark areas of the internet on Peer-to-Peer websites. Put simply they don’t have to wait; they Google it and it appears on their screen – done.

 

On demand Music

Long gone are the days of traveling to Our Price or HMV to buy and album or single to hear your favourite song. When I was a kid hearing a new song first meant listening to the radio or getting the bus to town. Not anymore.

If a child wants a new song now they can get it every and within second, perhaps from a streaming service such as Spotify or through an MP3 download on iTunes. Failing that they can almost certainly find it on Youtube within a matter of seconds. On demand, no waiting, no need for patience.

 

Skipping the Adverts

I was watching TV with my daughter once when an advert break came on. “Fast forward the adverts dad!” she exclaimed. “I can’t”, I said, “it’s live TV”. May daughter was clearly very irritated by the idea that she would actually have to sit and watch the adverts. It’s was almost painful for her and that’s when I realised that this who concept of waiting was something she just wasn’t learning. The idea of waiting for something to occur in it’s own time was too much.

 

On demand Food

We’re all getting bigger (guilty) and it’s not helped by the plethora of fast-food outlets available. Why wait for a healthy cooked meal to be cooked when you can drive though a McDonalds or Burger King? Pay a few quid and within minutes you’re passed a burger and chips from a little window. And if burgers aren’t you think then fear not: there’s plenty of hot sausage rolls, sugary chocolate bars and sugary drinks available to snack on at a moments notice.

 

So how do we teach patience to the On Demand Generation?

I’m no expert on this field and I don’t have the answer. There’s some great advice in the article ‘Kids and Patience‘ which suggests you give kids lots of chances to practice waiting, treat kids as if they can control themselves and slow down your response times. Good luck!

Things no one tells you when you become a Dad

things no one tells you when you become a Dad

Having had two children who are now 8 and 11, I thought it was time to compile a list of things no one tells you when you become a Dad. There are a lot of things you learn when you become a father, some of which other dad’s seem to keep to themselves. Hopefully some of these will help you.

 

You’re going to feel a bit useless at times

One of the things no one tells you when you become a Dad is how useless you might feel at first. Most new dad’s go through this and it’s totally natural. The thing to understand is that it’s not personal.

Before you’re baby was born it was probably just you and your wife. You spend most of your free time together, you spent lots of time planning for the new baby and you made lots of plans.

Suddenly, baby arrives and now you find yourself feeling a little left out. Mum is now devoting 100% of her time to your child; feeding, washing, cuddling and just generally not wanting to let go. And that’s a hard thing for a man to take.

You’re no longer centre of attention. You’re no longer Number One in your wife’s life. Well it’s time to suck it up because that’s how it’s going to be from now on. There really is no bond like a mother and a child; and it’s totally different than anything your wife has ever experienced before.

Find things to do to help. Wash some clothes, prepare a dinner. Make yourself useful – you’ll feel better for it and your wife will appreciate that.

 

 

You’re going to become an expert in packing the car

No matter how many books you’ve read and no matter how many people you talk to, nothing will prepare you for the mass of utter crap that having a baby requires you to carry in the car when you go to visiting. Bottle warmers, bottle sterilisers, cribs, formula, bedsheets, clothing, food; the list is endless.

Sadly, almost all of the items you’ll need to carry are bulky and irregular shapes, and they’re definitely not designed to slot neatly into the trunk of a car. Don’t fear – you’re not the first man to have experienced this problem and hopefully you’ll be able to rely on the advice of an uncle, dad or friend to give you discreet advice.

A 250g of tissues would weigh the equivalent of a house brick in a 30 mph crash as it flies through the air.

I’m not trying to scare you here, but just remember not to pack any items which might move around if you have to brake sharply or if you are unfortunate enough to be involved in a shunt. I bought a dog-guard for my Volvo V70 which meant that any luggage in the trunk would stay there if the vehicle was hit meaning the passengers were safe from flying objects.

If your car has an internal luggage barrier or guard, use it.

Hey dad! Nice car packing!
Hey dad! Nice car packing!

You’re going to forget what a it’s like to have a lie in

Ahhh, the lie in. Getting up when you want and spending the day doing what you want. It may sound obvious, but this is one of the things no one tells you when you become a Dad that often gets forgotten.

Forget it. It’s now a thing of the past. You may be occasionally granted a day off, or perhaps you may take it in turns with your wife to have a lie in on weekends, but as such an impromptu lie-in is something you probably won’t experience for the next few years.

 

You’re going to spend the next 5 years sleeping with one eye open

When you first bring your little one home you spend the first few nights checking they’re breathing every half an hour. The slightest rustle from their bed sheets wakes you up to check that they are OK. It’s a totally natural feeling for any new parent.

What no one told you was that for the next 5 years or so you’re going to sleep in a semi-sleep. That a sleep where although your eyes are closed and you think you’re sleeping, you are in fact partly awake and alert waiting for the next cry which will wake you up in the middle of the night.

And forget about going back to sleep once you’ve been woken up – expect to lay in your bed for the next 3 hours – struggling to relax and sleep – waiting for the next edition of demands to commence. This will continue for 5 years, but gradually improves. Eventually you’ll wake up and realise that finally, you actually managed to get 8 hours of solid and undisturbed sleep!

 

You’re going to start to hate your friends who tell you they’re tired but don’t have kids

I have a couple of friends without kids. They go to bed at 11pm on a Friday night and they sleep in until 10 or maybe 11 the next morning…yet they’re always ‘tired’. One friend regularly tells me how ‘tired’ he is. Sometimes I really want to punch him in the face…definitely one of the more annoying things no one tells you when you become a Dad!

 

Being a dad is going to be the best thing you’ll ever do

Last, but most importantly, is this: Being a dad is going to be the best thing you’ll ever do.

It’s going to be tough at times. There’s going to be lots of highs and some lows. You’re going to have to figure out lots of things as you go along.

There’s no rule book. People will give you advice – take it all with a pinch of salt and make up your own mind.

But most of all enjoy every moment; children really do grow up faster than you can imagine.