More than half of Americans ages 18 to 40 have children, and of those who are childless, about 40% plan to have children. That’s a lot of parenting of a lot of children (about 74 million under the age of 18) and a lot of doubts, question and conversations regarding how to raise kids from adorable dependents necessitating constant food and money to responsible and employed adults.
Here are nine internal disputes parents deal with and how to handle them:
Do I need a nanny or do I need a nanny?: Are you hiring someone kind, thoughtful, intelligent and dependable for your kids, or are you hiring this person because YOU need a timeout before you experience a nervous breakdown? Is the nanny’s job description centered around cooking meals, transporting the kids to appointments, cleaning and laundry? Or did tasks like “Weekly grocery shopping must include liquor store run” or “Will pay extra for ‘hot’ nanny with massage skills” sneak in there?
Should I be (working/at girls’ night out/in this meeting) or home?: Nearly every mom’s ticket to ride the crazy train of child rearing ends in a guilt trip. The key is balance, sharing and scheduling. And don’t say yes to every request. It’s OK to turn down demands on your time, no matter how flattering the request.
Wait, you want how many kids?: A must-have discussion before you say “I do” and way before young ‘uns number one arrives. The number of offspring you can feed, clothe, house and spoil on birthdays and holidays should certainly factor into the decision, along with consideration for tolerance levels by future grandparents and the earth’s limited resources.
This is depressing. No, it’s really depressing: Postpartum depression affects 10% to 20% of all new mothers, and it is a recognized medical condition. Symptoms range from mild sadness, anxiety and mood swings to severe psychotic episodes resulting in injury or death to the baby and a complete break with reality for the mother. The root causes are unknown, but psychological and drug therapy treatments exist.
Is candy a righteous ruse or a sign that I’m a bad mom?: When asking, begging, reasoning and threatening the kids into good behavior fails, the candy bribe is an option. Used sparingly, sugar won’t turn them into sleepless savages. When another choice exists, such as removing them from the store or restaurant, sending them to their room (minus all devices) or outside to power wash the driveway, use it.
When I swat my tantrum-throwing kid on the butt, is that child abuse?: The current crop of adults age 40 and older grew up with corporal punishment. Whether it was the teacher’s ruler smack on the hand, mom’s arm pull and stare of death combination or dad’s expert use of a belt (never left a mark), we survived. Your kids will make it through a mild spanking, though they have the smart phones available to call the local child protection agency. So take the phones and remind them this is for their own good.
The kids are crying for a puppy. Am I rotten for saying no?: You are wise for refusing a four-legged creature to enter your domain. Kids always promise to feed, walk and scoop poop for the pup, until they find out it’s actually work they will do for years. If the kids want a pet, bring them to the local animal shelter first and volunteer them for cage-cleaning duty. A few hours of this will cure the crying.
Do I make my kids eat their vegetables or accept failure and forget that fight?: Get the kids involved in the kitchen. A kid who cooks and has a voice in what’s on their plate is more likely to eat it.
Do I let my kids pick their own clothes for school and risk ridicule and bullying?: Or do I let it go and convince myself that I am raising future fashion icons? As with food, fashion choices are not worth tears and screaming. Children need clothes clean, mended and well-fitted. It’s nice if socks, shirts and pants/skirt go together, but everything doesn’t need to match. Kids watch fashion trends and know about designers; give them a set budget each year and let them shop for a few clothing items.