To steal from Jamison Koehler ‘On Parenting’

My husband and I are the parents of almost three – year – old twin boys.  People who coined the term terrible twos did so because they could come up with no suitable and non-frightening term for what comes after – horrific three’s? Drink yourself to death four’s?  We feel like we are constantly correcting, distracting and disciplining.  Today, it was too much.  Yonas decided that time out was really fun and laughed the whole time, while Yacob handed over his binoculars and said “thank you for taking them mommy” when I demanded them as punishment for some preschooler indiscretion.

Needless to say, we are worn out.  Tonight, we had a lovely dinner after we’d finally got the monkeys to bed.  My brother was with us and we chatted about parenthood and how we would get through to the other side.  We decided there was but one way to survive the several years – we would pick our battles.

See, there are some pretty major things we want to accomplish in raising our kids.  The first goal is that they not become douchebags.  This seems fairly straightforward, but it’s a tough thing to achieve because it is so murky and vague. Not douchebaggary, we all know it when we see it, but what are the things parents do that can  prevent douchebaggary from occurring?  I don’t think letting your kids swim in the plastic pool with all of their clothes on at the end of a long, steamy day will encourage the trait of the douchebag.  I also don’t think letting them throw their plastic spiderman toy off the deck and then run down to retrieve it will either (but I could be wrong about that one). I think that turning said plastic pool over and then sitting on it with your brother trapped underneath is worthy of a harsh word or two, that’s the stuff douchebags are made of.

So, we’ve decided that unless someone is in imminent danger of death, or they are breaking some hard and fast rule we have (no throwing food, pick up your toys when you are done playing, get the clorox from under the. .  oh, ummm. . .) we are going to use love and kindness to get them to do our bidding instead of the usless time outs and general parenting meanness.

We are picking our battles.  It is useless to debate with a three year old.  They are petulant and want to get their way.  They are just discovering the power of ‘no’ and talking back.  It’s growing pains for us and them. It’s up to us to set limits, to provide guidance along with an environment where they can grow and become the amazing human beings I demand know they will be. 

Sure, all of you parents of older kids who have been there and done that might have other ideas on child-rearing, but unless your kid has won a noble prize or saved a puppy dog and baby from a burning building, I don’t want to hear it.  You raised your kids making up your rules as you went along.  Maybe you asked for some help along the way, but hopefully no one told you you were the biggest parenting idiot alive for even thinking you had it right, especially when you didn’t ask for their opinion. I didn’t ask you, in this post, what you thought of my plan, but I’d like you to point out if its seriously flawed in some way if you have reason to believe it truly is.  But if you just want to tell me that I’m doing it wrong just because you think it, spare me.  I’ll give you your binky and lovey, dose you with benadryl and put you to bed with a good bedtime story about caterpillars.  I’m in no mood to fight with more three year old’s.

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Posted in: Not Gulity No Way   |     |   12 Comments

12 Responses

  1. Moshe - June 14, 2010

    I've got an almost 3 yo (and almost 5, and just turned 1) so believe me, I feel for you! Our neighbors have twin boys, and I don't think I would remain sane with twins.

  2. Jeff Gamso - June 14, 2010

    Yes, you're on track. Our boys, now young men, seem to have survived all our efforts. Our primary goal wasn't to prevent douchebagdom (though that's worthy, too) but that they not grow up to be ax murderers. The key tests of an emergency that really requires intervention: Is there blood? Are there flames?

  3. Jamison - June 14, 2010

    Great post, Mirriam, and I don't ONLY say that because my name is in the title.

    My wife and I were also big believers in the loving, pick-your-battles approach. We called it benign neglect. And not a single ax murder charge against one of my kids has ever been proven.

  4. shg - June 14, 2010

    I'm enormously proud of both my children, and firmly believe that their accomplishments (both Academy Awards for my daughter, the Nobel for my son [plus Olympic Silver]) had nothing to do with the way they were raised.

    They do, however, know how to eat properly in restaurants. I take credit for that. If you need any advice on that, you know where to find me.

  5. Mirriam Seddiq - June 14, 2010

    SHG – please kind sir. Tell me how to make two almost three-year-old boys behave. We are resigned to spending our evenings at the Waffle House.

  6. Norm Pattis - June 14, 2010

    Parenthood is a sentence of 18 to life. We all do our time in our own ways, and the kids go on to do theirs.

  7. shg - June 14, 2010

    The Waffle House is a wonderful choice for a family with young children. And older children.

    Do you like waffles?

  8. Walter Reaves - June 14, 2010

    We took the same approach, and I think ours ended up alright. Of course, we were asked to leave a restaraunt when my daughter was three.

    As a grandparent now I will tell you a secret. Our job is to undo everything you doing – they get whatever they want. So be prepared to start over when you get them back :)

  9. David M Gottlieb - June 14, 2010

    There is no parenting problem that can't be fixed with duct tape or napalm. As the proud parent of an almost four year old ballerina/princess/death-machine and a 16 month old on a suicide mission, I completely understand. I'm not at the don't be a douchebag stage. I'm more at the, let go of the dog, get off your sister, put that down, get off of that, stage.

  10. Huma - June 14, 2010

    This post has great contraceptive powers. :-P

    I may eventually change my mind, but for now, I'm just so terrified of the actual process of birthing children (and then being expected to, you know, actually look after them and raise them not to be douchebags) that I think I'll just sit this one out. :-P

  11. Niki Black - June 15, 2010

    3 is a really tough stage-and having 2 in that stage is even harder. I have nothing but admiration for my friends who have twins. It's not easy.

    And, you're taking a great approach, I think. They need to learn the consequences of their actions and letting them throw their toys off the deck–assuming no one else is a target–is a good way to learn how gravity can affect a favorite toy;)

    Hang in there Mirriam. It's not easy, but you'll be into the next stage soon. When they hit 4 you'll feel more like a person again–they become more independent, etc.

    Of course, each new stage brings new challenges–but it's worth it;)

  12. Jeff Gamso - June 15, 2010

    "Of course, each new stage brings new challenges–but it's worth it;)"

    Or, as a friend whose kids are a couple of years older than mine told me when my older one was just learning to crawl, "Everything your children master, everything that makes you proud of them, just makes your life harder."

    But there's also this, the truly best parenting advice I ever learned, decades ago, from a philosophy professor (childless, I should add, at least at the time): "There's very little you can do to your children that years of intensive therapy once they're adults can't help them overcome."

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