CTFD and Other Parenting Advice

books

Is it possible to suffer from parenting guidebook reading fatigue? If so, I think I’ve hit the mark. The other day, just out of curiosity, I typed “parenting” at Amazon, and my search returned 193,691 books. It’s no wonder why I’m feeling fatigued and rightfully anxious about what I should be reading. It seems like everyone has authored a parenting book from doctors to teachers to celebrities. Even tough love, moral authority ‘Papa Bear’ Bill O’Reilly has written a parenting book, The O’Reilly Factor for Kids: A Survival Guide for America’s Families. But what does one author say about parenting that is any different from the other thousands of parenting book authors? This is perplexing.

To understand this better, I spent some time perusing the titles of some of Amazon’s parenting best sellers. Here are just a few: How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk, Scream Free Parenting: The Revolutionary Approach to Raising Your Kids by Keeping Your Cool, and my personal favorite, David Vienna’s 2013 international bestseller, Calm the F**ck Down. The Only Parenting Technique You’ll Ever Need. Based on these titles alone, as an outsider, it seems to be that parenting involves a considerable amount of talking and screaming. Is parenting a continuum of emergency crises where everyone is barely maintaining survival?

Lately, I’ve been collecting anecdotal parenting research from my friends and family. And just like the enormous swath of parenting guidebooks, there’s also a diverse range of advice about how to parent. Some suggest the more ambiguous like: “You’ll figure it out as you go.” “There’s really no right or wrong way to do it” (I guess it’s not like learning how to tie your shoes). “What works for me, may not work for you.” To the more definitive advice like: “You definitely need baby wipes in the car 24/7.” “Don’t get into a snacking war with a toddler in public because it will be complete hell.”  “A car seat? We don’t really use one now that he’s a toddler.” Wait. What?!

Moments later, after becoming completely unhinged and remembering to calm myself down by doing yoga breathing, I started to wonder if parenting isn’t really any different from any other relationship. Is it as simple as children want to feel loved, respected, and supported? At the end of the day maybe all parents have the similar desire which is to raise happy, healthy autonomous children and according to one friend who confidently said, “But what’s singularly different is how you get there.”

In the meantime, I’m quietly continuing to read in order to prepare myself for parenting. And on those especially challenging days; maybe the only parenting advice I need is from David Vienna who simply says, “You need to CTFD (calm the f**ck down).”

Here are a few seminal parenting/adoption books that have resonated with me:

  1. The Connected Child by Karyn Purvis & David Cross
  2. The Whole- Brain Child by Daniel Siegel & Tina Payne Bryson
  3. Adopting After Infertility by Patricia Irwin Johnston

What are your book recommendations?  Please share.

Patience Is a Virtue (sometimes)

“Good things come to those who wait,” “Slow and steady wins the race, “Haste makes waste,”“A handful of patience is worth more than a bushel of brains.” We can all quote by memory these annoying platitudes about patience (okay, maybe not that last one). When I was younger, I sang regularly in my church choir where we did a number of performances. However, one performance has vividly stuck with me even thirty years later. I can still recall and sing the lyrics to one song sung by Herbert the singing snail: Have patience//have patience//don’t be in such a hurry// when you get impatient you only start to worry//Remember, remember, that God is patient, too//and think of all the the times when others have to wait for you//

I don’t think that I’m a particularly patient person. I’ve been known to walk quickly in front of the elderly and children in strollers in order to get to the door before them. I have a horribly low tolerance for drivers. If a driver doesn’t go within two seconds of the traffic light turning green, they will definitely get a honk.  And on more than one occasion, I’ve said to my middle school students, “I can’t talk to you right now,” and quickly walked away. It seems like since the womb we’ve been instructed by our parents, teachers, and everyone around us that patience is an expected behavior. You often hear parents say, “Wait your turn, wait until we eat, wait until you are spoken to.” But what happens when you don’t want to wait? When patience is a virtue only sometimes.

Most recently, my patience has been exceedingly tested with our journey to become parents. My husband and I have been waiting to be parents since 2012. We knew that we wanted to have children and immediately started planning our family right after we were married. After four years of trying to get pregnant by completing fertility testing, two failed attempts of IUI and countless fertility acupuncture appointments; we made the decision to adopt. We are a year into the adoption process and now again we are waiting, but this time we are waiting to meet our toddler Korean son. We don’t have any other choice but to wait. But patiently wait? I’m not so sure. What does that look like anyway? Is patience lying in bed with tears welling up in your eyes quietly counting off the days and months until you finally get to meet him for the first time. Or maybe it’s giving yourself permission to walk through the toddler clothing section and letting the fabric run through your hands while imagining his tiny body in the I heart Minneapolis t-shirt. And even, maybe, patience is like the day when you silently surrender to the idea of writing a blog in order to keep your mind occupied and your heart from going wildly insane.

Do good things come to those who wait? Maybe. But I can say with certainty that within the next year, I’ll more than likely be repeating these same words to my two year old: “Please wait your turn, or wait until we eat.” And then if I’m lucky enough and if I’m listening closely; he’ll be the one teaching me how to be patient just like Herbert the singing snail.