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  • Writer's pictureJaye Gaff

Parenting | I Would Never

You hear the phrase, “when I’m a parent I would never…” quite a lot and, I guess, the stereotype is that childless people say it and it’s hilarious because they don’t have kids and how they would know? But I don’t actually agree with that. You don’t have to have something to have an opinion on it. And there’s nothing wrong with sharing what you would do in your circumstance. The problem lies when we judge other people based on our own opinions.

When I was child-free I said the same kind of stuff. I was a cocky shit but there were many things that found their way over into my parenting and, yes, we are going to talk about it.

  1. I will never hit my kids. It’s child abuse, plain and simple. It’s bad parenting. You got hit and turned out fine? No, I don’t buy that. You’re an adult. You don’t hit random people in the street. You don’t hit your boss. You don’t hit your spouse. The only reason you hit children is because you view them as weaker or beneath you. You suck.

  2. No devices at the table. I feel like this is one of those big “laughable” ones that only childfree people say. But, guess what? Nobody in my family is allowed a device at the table. Even when we go out to eat. Even when B. was little. No. I don’t think it’s appropriate.

  3. No time out. I actually failed at this one for a few years and then I decided it was quite a hideous concept so I stopped doing them. I apologised to B. and now we’re a family of “I need some space and then I’ll come back” and it works a million times better in resolving conflict.

  4. Teach your child emotional intelligence. No explanation needed there really. You’re raising someone who needs to be a functional adult. Do better.

  5. Apologise. I apologise all the fucking time. I apologise for faults I’ve noted in myself and for things B. has raised. Apologise to your children and please, for the love of chocolate and electric blankets on cold days, apologise properly.

  6. Honesty. Whatever B. asks I answer honestly. Sex. Periods. Pubic Hair. All of it. Stop bloody lying to your kids. 100% honesty is the only way to go because what else is there? A magical age where your kid is finally ready to hear the truth and now, after how many years of lies and half-truths, they’re just supposed to trust you?

  7. No child owes their parent anything. B. does not owe me good grades or a university degree. She doesn’t owe me a good mood or hugs or kisses. She doesn’t even owe me respect. Stop expecting respect and start earning it.

  8. No Coke. My child will not drink caffeinated soft drinks until she is 16. Maybe older. I just think… no. Don't ask me why I have this random rule. Don't ask me where it came from. I just... I have no answer to any of it. And, yes, I am pretty sure she's going to break this rule and that's fine too.

  9. No babysitters. I am a psycho. That's pretty bloody apparent. Even though I adore horror movies and I adore the original When a Stranger Calls I have to admit that it scarred me for life. My child has never had a babysitter. She never will.

  10. Your child does not owe you money. I turned 16 and my mother expected me to help pay for bills. I had to pay rent. I had to buy my own clothes (which was fine) BUT she critiqued what I bought and shamed me for spending $30 on one pair of shorts. Fuck that. Your child should never pay rent. I may re-jig this if B. lives at home and works a full-time job but I can't imagine ever turning in to that person. Gross.

  11. No lying about Santa. He isn't real. We just never mentioned it and it never really mattered. Did B. still ask for photos with Santa? Yes. She still sat in his lap and had breakfast with him and all that jazz but she knew there was no person coming into her house and putting shit under a tree. I just feel like it's a weird lie and one you stop when you decide your kid is ready and I think that's gross. Yes, I've heard the argument about "the magic of Christmas" but, hello, I have the mental age of a five year old. Christmas is magical enough. We decorate together. Buy a new ornament every year. We do December 1 and 24 gifts. We do stockings. Christmas is pretty fucking magical. I don't need to threaten my child with a call to Santa to behave. We don't need the threat of him not coming to lure her to sleep. She just behaves and she just sleeps. Maybe that makes me a Grinch but if it does I'm ok with that.

I’m sure there’s loads more that I can’t recall. Loads more that I’ve repeatedly failed on (my child does eat chocolate for breakfast). But my biggest parenting thing is to keep trying and keep parenting the child you have. Not the one you dreamed of. Not the one they were a year or a day ago. The person they are today.

And here’s something else for the parents out there — you will be judged no matter what so, for goodness sake, do what is right for your child and your child alone. If you have one kid people will tell you your iPad free dinners are for that reason alone. You will always hear you have no idea because you only have one. Wait until you have four they say. They will always say something. Learn to tune people out. Learn to stop caring if people judge your child or your parenting or their messy hair.

You owe your child a good life. You don’t own anyone else shit.

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