My wife and I go to the grocery store every Saturday. We have what I think is a great system: I push the cart and she runs the aisles. Be jealous my friend.
One day while on our grocery run, we saw the dreaded “infant-tantrum-in-a-public-place” thing. Thankfully it was not our infant (that ship has sailed) but the infant of some other poor unfortunate soul. I never know how to react to that situation. You can’t laugh because you’ve either been there and know their frustration or you know that if you do laugh it will come back to bite you. Somehow, it will come back to bite you.
My wife and I discuss parenting a lot. I remember asking her that day what she would have done. Her response? “It never should have happened.” Whatever do you mean, beautiful wife-o-mine? In a nutshell, that child did not have a great normal. Let me see if I can explain.
We are “creatures of habit.” Generally speaking, we get up at the same time everyday. We eat the same breakfast at the same table (Confession: I actually love, not like, Grape-nuts). We use the same soap, shampoo and toothpaste. We take the same route to work. Have you ever arrived at work and realized that you don’t remember driving there? Just me? Anyway. Whether at home or at our place of business we will generally go through the same routine everyday. Do I even have to mention our “usual seats” at church? I realize that there are exceptions to these but we are indeed “creatures of habit.” We create our very own version of normal.
Here’s the thing: children do not create their very own version of normal. Their parents do. And whatever is set as normal when children are young will continue. For a long time. For both the parents and the child. This can be a great thing. This can be a not so great thing.
Parents must see the big picture.
So what is the big picture? It is taking into consideration how the normal that you create in the life of your child now will have a direct impact on the behavior of your child as a teenager. That’s it. If you are thinking that way now, it will save you a boatload of hurt later. Parents who embrace this concept early have a huge advantage over parents who do not. Huge.
So what about the child in the grocery store? Somewhere along the line, his parents chose to either ignore or neglect teaching that child how to respond to “no.” It is not a difficult thing. It is a non-negotiable part of a great normal. You take that same child with parents that have taught him how to respond to “no” and the incident in the store never happens. The child knows that it is not unusual for the answer to be “no.” It is normal.
So just what is “normal parenting?” It is raising our children with the big picture in mind. It is parents who are committed to creating a great normal for their children when they are young. It is also the absolute best way to make parenting a blast. I’m serious, a blast.
Next time: Why on earth I’m even talking about this?