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Dr Phil vs My Dad

Dr Phil recommends that when a toddler is acting spoilt and throwing their weight around, the best thing you can do as a parent is to ignore the child completely and move on like you have not heard what they are doing.

My father on the hand – through action – suggests that when a toddler is acting otherwise, when they can’t be reasoned with, as a parent you a required to smack a child until they realise that what they are doing is unacceptable behaviour.

These are diametrically opposed points of view about dealing with screams and toy throwing behaviour. As a father of an 18 month old, I find myself at that cross roads again. My boy, Sam, has suddenly become a terror. He has found his screaming voice and it would give Canary (the comic book character, not the bird… the one who is in fishnet stockings and has a long term relationship with Green Arrow…No? She has screaming powers… Still no?) Anyway, Sam’s scream would give Canary a run for her money. But it’s not so much the ear-drum ripping effects of the scream but the indiscriminate application of said scream. If he falls and hurts himself? SCREAM! If he bashes his head on the table? SCREAM! If he is being bullied by his older siblings? SCREAM! But then when he is marginally interested in the apple in your hand? SCREAM! If he doesn’t want the apple you offer him? SCREAM! When it’s bed time? SCREAM! If a plane flies over a church in Nigeria? SCREAM! At some point this SCREAM needed to be engaged.

Last night, there were “I don’t wanna sleep in a cot” issues. They resulted in the application of the SCREAM tactic. Liberal father that I am, I tried to apply the Dr Phil technique. I ignored him…for 90 minutes. He. Did. Not. Stop. For 90 minutes. (How is it that children can scream for that long without losing their voices? I propose that a governmental task team to investigate this… Your tax monies working for you, right there) I digress. The Dr Phil method did not work. At this point I thought to apply the My Dad technique. A smack to the hand for every SCREAM he unleashed. It really took him a significantly short space of time for him to realise that the SCREAM thing was closely linked to the stinging sensation to the back of the hand… ergo: Dr Phil – 0 My Dad – 1.

Now I must stress that I am not advocating for beating children. I am talking about an age appropriate smack when a wrong vs right needs to be highlighted. This is applicable ONLY when a child cannot be reasoned with and all other alternatives have been exhausted. I’ve found that with my kids I have seldom had to give more that 2 (3Max) smack EVER per child.

I’ve also noticed that a closer bond happens between the smacked child and myself once peace and explanations and declarations of love have been communicated and understood.

I stress again: Smacking is not Beating as Swimming is not Drowning. My dad is right, sorry Dr Phil.

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Start them early...

Start them early…

It’s a tough thing balancing a relationship with your children and your spouse/partner is a blended family. Firstly there’s the issue of time: The arrangement we have is that on weekends (3 out of four) all the children come to my house. This is fantastic for the kids,cos it’s  hangout time with siblings, bonding time with me…which is great… and “Daddy always makes plans for the weekend to do something fun.” (Guilt parenting is not entirely absent from the equation but that’s not what we are talking about here)

The thing is my lady and I work very hard during the week and where most people use the weekend to rest, We look after, entertain and herd 5 children. As fun as this is, I’m aware that mother does quite a lot of the heavy lifting in that dynamic.

The children that my lady is co-parenting are mine. She does this so well that contrary to the evil step mother image sold to us by Snow White, Cinderella and other princesses, my lady has the kids voluntarily calling her “Mom.”

For this, I am deeply grateful. I don’t know howI would do this without you.

So yes, I am raising mine, But I have significant help.

quite moments where Sam walks over to me, puts his head down and passes out.

quite moments where Sam walks over to me, puts his head down and passes out.

Finding Heroes for my children...

Finding Heroes for my children…

Through me, not from me

imageRaising Mine

It’s been a while since I wrote for this blog. Much has happened since then. My youngest born has started walking. Yaay!! This is both a great thing and a terrible thing: He is more independent, but he is also getting himself into a lot of trouble. So my lady and I have found ourselves needing to make the house safe. Stairs have security gates at the top…which can be very frustrating if you are chasing a ringing phone and you’re on the wrong side of that gate, or when you walk to the kitchen at night, in the dark and painfully bump into the gate.

Now, I’ve been very close to all my children. I’ve watched them learning to smile, crawl, walk, run, cartwheel and one day i’ll watch them learn to drive. Thereafter, I will have to watch them take care of their own flat, house, marriage and so on.
So it occurred to me that parenting, while it is an exercise in equipping your young ones to the best of your ability or to the best of your commitment, is also the process of letting go.
There is something bitter sweet in this “letting go” process. For instance, each time one of my children reached crawling stage, they began exploring their world beyond the reach of their arms. A toy that was in the corner of the room suddenly didn’t need daddy to be reached. This was fantastic because I enjoyed watching their new found freedom but it meant less physical contact with me.
As they learnt to walk so that contact became less. I continued to celebrate their independence but yearned for little bodies that used me as the jungle-gym, clambering over me and demanding to be held. Now my job is to soothe when the world has caused hurt. I blow on boo-boos, wipe tears, seal wound, cuts and grazes with plaster. When the hurt is gone they go back into the world. it is beautiful and painful thing to watch.
One day, they won’t need me to even blow on boo-boos, clothe or feed them. They will be their own grown men and women. Even if they remain 13months old to my eye.

Then I remember the famous quote: Your children really aren’t your children. They come through you, not from you.

Then I’m reminded: My children are not my possession. They come through me, trusting that I will do the best for them and then release them into the world.

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Me and mine

Me and mine

What the photo doesn’t convey is flurry of questions – about everything – that I’m being asked at that moment. Including “what are trees made of?” And “Is Nelson Mandela buried here?” And “why are brown people treated badly?”

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My family at the Howick Arrest Site

My family at the Howick Arrest Site

It’s rare to have all of us in one picture. This is one of those rare times.