Last week, my wife and I were looking at preschool for my little girl. We found two preschools in the area with great reviews, and both visits went well. However, one thing stood out to me as a reflection of modern day parenting advice. At both preschools we asked about the necessity of being potty trained before beginning class. Both schools assured us that there was no issue with the kids not being trained yet, but there was one amusing difference. The first school told us that the kids absolutely must wear pull-up diapers, and that helps them bridge faster to being potty trained. The second school told us that the kids must absolutely not wear pull-up diapers, and that it hampers their progression to potty training.
Within 3 hours we had heard two completely opposite views on child rearing from two extremely reputable places. This story illustrates the near impossible web of parenting advice in our modern world that moms and dads attempt to navigate. There have got to be as many parenting blogs, books, articles, and guides on this planet as there are kids. There are schools of thought on parenting that have almost become religions in their own right. Should we let kids cry it out at bedtime? Are kids allowed to drink juice? Is co-sleeping ok? Are space heaters turning them into aliens?
As a parent we always want to do the best we can for our kids, but the catch is this. There is no one best way to parent, and on top of that you are going to make a ton of mistakes (don’t worry, kids are pretty mistake proof). Sure, there are some pretty agreed upon guidelines, but most of how you raise your kid is up to you. Here is the real kicker, if you spend hours upon hours reading parenting advice, then you probably are doing the right things. Not because of the advice, but because if you are dedicating that much time to raising your kid correctly, then you are probably raising your kid correctly. Just try not to float so far into the ocean of opinions that you forget to just enjoy the idiosyncrasies and ridiculousness of your kid.
So in the end, use the pull-ups or use a regular diaper, feel free to co-sleep or not, and the space heater is probably not the reason your toddler is speaking in tongues. Just follow this one piece of advice, and you will do just fine… Be very wary of anyone who tells you they know exactly how to raise your kid.
My wife woke up the other morning alarmed that she had forgot to pack my daughter’s lunch for daycare. In an attempt to be a good husband, I told her not to worry… Dad would handle lunch! Her immediate reaction was to groan while lamenting “Noooooo… you’re going to make her a dad lunch! Dad lunch is whatever dad can throw together! It’s like rice, one chicken nugget, half a string cheese, fruit snacks, and a shoe!”
First, I was slightly offended, but truth is that she is basically right. Dad lunch is absolutely a smorgasbord
;"> of nearby and partially edible foods. However, it’s not a malicious attempt by Dad to sabotage the nutritional needs of our kids. It is also not based in laziness, or a lack of caring. Dad lunch is a microcosm of a larger difference between Mom and Dad.
Mom has a plan. She tends to know what is appropriate for basically any situation. Mom knows that each lunch contains a certain combination of foods to achieve nutritional nirvana. Mom knows that certain clothes get worn to certain events, and the exact day that shorts are no longer appropriate for outside. Dad on the other hand is totally winging it, and by “it” I mean parenthood. We love our kids more than anything, but that doesn’t make us any more competent when it comes to decision making.
We are still the guys you fell in love with, and those guys could live off of cold pizza, Doritos, and Kool-Aid. We would wear the same ripped t-shirt and jeans to every event short of a wedding or funeral (that’s what ties are for), and we have absolutely no idea what an appropriate bedtime is. We stayed up until 4 am several times just to watch Steven Segal fight Tommy Lee Jones on a boat. In short, we don’t make great choices.
Then one day, someone hands us a baby and says “Hey, congrats Dad! Now go home and raise this thing.” Most dad’s try their hardest, and we succeed on many levels. However, we have no plan. Each day is a new adventure, and each night is a little victory that we didn’t severely screw up the kiddo that day. So next time Dad packs a lunch that may or may not actually contain any actual vitamins or minerals, just know that we are trying, but we have absolutely no idea what we are doing.
So with all that in mind, I named this blog Dad Lunch. First off, I thought it was simple and kind of catchy, but also it is just a collection of thoughts from a dad who is winging it on his way down this parenthood path.