What follows are some random thoughts I’ve either been told, or overheard in the last few days. All of them regard advice to parents. Both good and, to keep the negative comments from being “negative” let’s call them “not-so-good” advice. (Most of the not-so-good” advice made me giggle.)
As I was chatting with a gentleman in an airport he asked if I had any children and when I told him our story he began to share advice. All of this was unsolicited. Since he was willing to share it freely, I figured I would do the same. The next three points came from him in this order:
-Make sure your home is a “safe place” for your child. I really like this one. Watch how this little nugget of advice evolves on the next few points in a very beautiful way. He mentioned making sure your children know that the safest place on earth is home. They can share anything in that safe place. No matter the emotion it should be safe to share it within the walls of your home.
-Make sure your ears are always open. His explanation was so clear with that one sentence, but he went on. Listening to the needs of your little one do not stop when the get a little bigger. It becomes more important. Right now you (he was addressing me at the time) listen for a cry and are learning what each cry means. That is just step one. Once they can speak, don’t think your time to interpret is over. Sometimes you need to listen to the words, but read between them. (Then came the sentence that made me shudder.) Especially with girls. (Oh, boy.) He then mentioned how it goes beyond just the rough times. Sometimes you just need to listen to what they are saying. And NOT give advice. Not fix the issue. Because the issue may not need fixing. (A second time a shudder crawled down my spine.)
-Make sure your arms are always open. This one, he explained, is more than just the times they need to cry or hug in happiness. Those arms have to be open to just hold on as you hang out and relax on an evening and read a book or watch a movie. I have to admit, I really like this piece of advice.
-If you follow those three pieces of advice you are more than 50 percent of the way on to being a great parent. (That was his claim. I have to admit if my mind had an inner set of eyes. I rolled them. Thinking that seems mighty simple. Then he followed it up.) Following that advice means your home is always safe. Your ears will listen. Your arms will comfort. Now, even if you aren’t contained within the four walls of your home it doesn’t matter. If you are where your child is, your ears will listen and your arms will comfort. Home is still the safe place. It is wherever you are with your child. YOU are the home. YOU are the safe place. (My inner eye roll moment hunched over in embarrassment.)
I don’t know if that discussion led to perfect parenting advice. Although I have to admit, it sure felt like it. I’ve heard those points all before separately. I felt like I was given the pieces to this puzzle throughout my life, but had never put them together until that moment.
For that moment of great advice I was handed some really…um…”not-so-good” advice too. Most of this is no longer accepted. We received warnings from various nurses and medical professionals ever since Maggie arrived. These were given to me by various folks that found out about Maggie. (I won’t credit anyone with these.):
-The best way to stop a cranky kid to stop is to “out yell” them. No kidding! Out yell them? So if Maggie starts to cry and we can’t stop her we are supposed to put her in the crib. Then step away from the crib so she cannot see us. Then yell louder. The “claim” was that your child will recognize your voice and tone and it will startle them and they will shut up. If I do that to an adult they would jump from being startled. I can’t believe this works. And I’ll never find out.
-If you want to make your baby giggle. Rub their legs with olive oil. No clear explanation for this one. When I asked, “Would baby oil work too?” The claim back was, “Not for my kid. He only giggles when I use olive oil.” (Sounds like this kid is a giggly vegan in training.)
-The best way to calm a teething baby is to dip the pacifier in whiskey. Ok I’ve heard versions of this one several times over. From use my finger to run it on her gums to dip the pacifier in whiskey. No only does this seem like a bad idea it assumes two things. 1. That I have whiskey in the house. 2. I’m willing to share said whiskey. (“Yes” on the first point, “No” on the second.)
-The TV is your best friend. (Not even if TV were a blood relative would I consider this one.) I’m not going to be one of those parents who never lets their child watch TV or videos. I just don’t plan on it being the “go to” way to co-parent.
Those were the big ones. Are there other pieces of parenting advice you have heard? I’d love to hear both good and bad ones. (Just let me know which category they fall into when you tell me.)