What would you do better?

In my previous post, I briefly mentioned the perspective of having myself been a child regarding parenting. A perspective I think is not thought of by many. But if you think about it, is it not one of the first places you’d go to when considering becoming a parent? To ask yourself what your own childhood was like. What you liked about, what you disliked about it. What would you have done differently? What would you have done better?

My childhood was not the best. It was not the most horrible, but it was bad. Verbal abuse and emotional distance was the two things that dominated our household. Around the age of 7-9, I retreated into the world of video games, the reality of instant gratification. And I remained there for most of my childhood. Because for me, the outside world did not have much to offer.

It is through this realization, that I myself had it bad, that I can start to think about how I can learn from my own childhood. In a weird way, having had a bad upbringing has given me the opportunity to look at what my parents did, and then do the opposite. My mother was verbally abusive and screaming frequently, and I really hated that. How will I behave with my own children in light of this? I will have a calm, low voice. Instead of being abusive, I will listen as much as I can, ask as many questions as I can. Actively seek to do better as a father.

Can you see how powerful this perspective can be?

As mentioned in my last post, parenting is for the child, not the parent. You are supposed to serve the needs of the child. And to do that, you must have the ability to empathize with your child. You must ask your child questions, all the time. What does your child want? What does your child like? What does your child dislike?

Just imagine, when you were a child. Did you not want your parents to ask these kinds of questions? Ask what you like, what you dream about, what you dislike? To have your caregivers seeking to get to know YOU as a human being. Not just having you around as a toy, or a garbage-bag.

It is one of the reasons I’d like to become a parent. To give someone the things I so desperately wanted myself. To help create a new person, and give them the very best tools, to not only survive, but thrive and enjoy our fickle but beautiful existence.

So if you are becoming a parent, or thinking of becoming one, ask yourself this… ”What kind of parent would I have liked to have?”

Thanks for reading.

What is parenting?

Hello everyone, hope you are doing well. Today, I am going to talk to you guys about, parenting. ATTENTION, DISCLAIMER, I am myself not yet a parent, but I want to become a parent in the future, so I have not myself brought up children to adults. I have, however, as we all have, been a child myself, and I think this is an often overlooked, yet so important perspective to keep in mind when thinking and talking about parenting.

Basically, parenting is about bringing a new human being into the world. It is supposed to be a process where you, as the parent, bring up the child into a functioning adult, who will be able to take care of him or herself when of age. Might be a common sense explanation to some people, but I think that for a lot of people, this definition is not thought of or discussed explicitly.

What it is really about, is a sort of custodianship for the child’s future. This might go against what some, or perhaps many people think, but children are not the property of their parents. Rather, the parents have implicitly agreed to a contract with the child’s future self. The child did not ask to be born, it had no power over being conceived. It was the will (excluding rape of course) of the parents, that the child get to see the light of day. So there is an implicit responsibility for the parents to take care of the child, so that when the child becomes an adult, the child knows how to live on her or his own, has a set of healthy habits such as exercising and eating well, has been given proper dental care, the right nutrition at the right time and on it goes.

Think of it as taking care of someones home while they go on a trip abroad. Sure, you get to make decisions about the home while the owner is away, but when that owner gets back, it is your responsibility that that home is in AT LEAST in the condition you left it or better. Because it is not your home. Even this metaphor is flawed, because here the owner of the home is an adult that enters into a contract with other adults, while the child’s future self cannot. It is instead an implicit contract.

So what consequences does this have for parenting? Well, this means that whatever decision you make concerning the child, you make for the sake of the child. Not because of your wants and needs, but for the child’s future self. This means that it matters what kind of food and how much food you give your child to eat. For instance, an obese child is at a higher risk for being obese as an adult http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8483856 , which carries with it a lot of negatives.

Not only do you as a parent have responsibility to make sure that the child grows up with a healthy physique, but you also have to provide nutrition for their mind. In order for an adult to function in society, things like social skills, reading and writing, language skills, math and many other mental skills are necessary. Remember, you are preparing and giving the child tools for living on his or her own, as an adult.

What also is important, which I believe sadly is one of the most neglected in parenting worldwide, is giving the child a peaceful, patient and positive home environment. In the US for instance, spanking is seen by most parents as a tool to help shape the child into a functioning adult. However, the evidence AGAINST the positive outcomes of spanking children is overwhelming, if one seeks out the studies for it. Spanking of children is linked to a long list of increased risks in adulthood, like the likelihood of domestic abuse, lower IQ and anti-social behavior. If you’d like to check this up for yourself, I’d recommend ‘’The Primordial Violence’’ which is full of different studies showing the negatives of spanking.

Spanking is tragically very common still in todays world, even the ‘’civilized’’ west. There are countries where it has been banned, but even with a ban, people will still resort to spanking their children. Sweden for instance became in 1979 the first nation in the world to ban corporal punishment of children. In a study conducted between 2001-2006, university students were asked to respond to the statement ‘’When I was less than 12 years old, I was spanked or hit a lot by my mother or father’’. 30,1% of the Swedish students agreed with this statement. One third, in a country where the practice is BANNED! Of course, where spanking is still legal for most of the part, like in the US, that percent was much higher (61,4%).

Now if you just think for just a moment about what I have laid out here, the numbers I have mentioned. You will, if you are honest, come to the conclusion that a whole lot of parents, parent quite badly many times. Not to say that there aren’t parents who get most things right, or perhaps all things right, of course! But I believe, a HUGE majority of parents in the world, are quite frankly, pretty shitty parents.

It has been the case for human history that children have had rough childhoods to say the least. And in many ways parenting has improved a lot. Spanking is becoming less and less common, things like genital mutilation (at least of girls) is considered barbaric in the west. So we are, as a society making progress.

However, it is an absolute DISGRACE, that we are not making progress faster. When the evidence against spanking as a good tool for bringing up a healthy child is so STAGGERING… And almost nobody talks about. Almost no parents look this stuff up. Before I decided to buy the keyboard I am writing typing with right now, I spent 15-20 minutes looking at reviews for it. Because I wanted to make a good investment. 15-20 minutes. That is, I think, but cannot prove, 15-20 more minutes most parents spend looking into potential adverse effects of spanking. That is a disgrace. It would have been more understandable in the middle-ages, where the little to none information that did exist was so hard to come by. But now, with Internet in your POCKET, there is no excuse for not knowing these things.

I believe most parenting is not done for the child in this world. Most parenting is for the adults that decide to bring a new life into the world. Maybe to save a marriage, to have someone dependent on you to boost your ego, or perhaps just have someone you can terrorize without consequence.

We do not own our children. We have a responsibility to them, to bring them up as healthy adults. We owe it to them to do the research. And when that research, when that evidence goes against our preconceived views of parenting, we have to grit our teeth and change our ways. Because parenting is not for the parents. It is for the children.

Thanks for reading.