Because I said so

“Because I said so” stops conversations dead in their tracks, and that’s how we intend it: to shut our children down and expect their obedience without their understanding. This robs them of an opportunity to learn, develop and become more capable, functional people.

“Because I said so” is one of those phrases that drove us crazy as kids, that we swore we’d never utter and yet slips out of our mouths almost unconsciously.

Conventional parenting says that children are to be seen and not heard, which makes phrases like “because I said so” acceptable. They’re our last line of defence in a conversation that we’re seeking to end without any further explanation or inquisition. We expect full adherence because we’re in charge and what we say, goes. Continue reading “Because I said so”

Children, shopping and tantrums

No one likes being around a screaming child so what do you do when you’re out with your kids and they start having a tantrum? A recent story about such an event in the UK highlighted the issue for me so I thought I’d weigh in now that I have kids.

A couple of weeks ago, a story ran on BBC News about a woman who was asked to leave a John Lewis store in Manchester because her 16-month-old daughter was having a tantrum.

Previously, I felt disqualified to talk on such matters because I didn’t have kids but now as a parent of 2 I think I get to have my say.

Frankly, my position hasn’t much changed since before I had kids. If you have children, my first position if that you should avoid taking them anywhere where they can be disruptive in the first place. In general, Martina and I avoid going to restaurants with the kids unless we have a good degree of certainty that they’ll be well-behaved. Continue reading “Children, shopping and tantrums”

Why we’re always apologising to our children

Our children are as entitled (if not more entitled) to receive an apology when we’ve wronged them. Acting as if we’re somehow superior to them doesn’t do anyone any favours

I think that most people would agree that it’s important for them to feel safe in their relationships by knowing that they will be treated with dignity and respect and that any wrong can be reconciled amicably. This is chiefly seen in marriages and close friendships and I don’t know why we don’t treat our children the same way.

Most people seem to think that using phrases like “because I said so” are normal and acceptable, but I question that. Such phrases imply that there’s a servant and a master, rather than a level playing field. As for me and my wife, we think that our children are little humans with feelings and ideas. While we have a responsibility to protect them from the dangers that they may face, they can make their own decisions and we try to allow them to do so at every opportunity possible. We empower them to be responsible for and to themselves.

Continue reading “Why we’re always apologising to our children”

Why we’re asking people to not bring gifts to our kids’ birthdays

Our children have plenty of toys and don’t need to be given gifts out of duty, so we’re asking that people give their time instead of a gift so that Ellie can enjoy an experience that she will remember forever (with the aid of photos at this young age).

In a couple of weeks, Ellie will celebrate her 2nd birthday. As part of the invitation we have specifically requested that birthday party attendees do not bring gifts. Here’s a few thoughts on why we chose to do that:

  • Today, gift-giving is very much an expectation when attending a child’s birthday party. As such, the gifts tend to be purchased out of duty rather than out of love, so the birthday boy/girl ends up with whatever seemed like fun for a reasonable price from the toy aisle at Target rather than a carefully considered gift given out of love and consideration.
  • Most of what children play with today is not compatible with how we are raising Ellie. In the absence of screens, branding and media, the best kind of toys for her are the kind of thing that you have to hunt down specifically as they’re no longer toys that most kids play with, so this avoids her opening presents that we then have to explain that she can’t have.
  • Simply put and perhaps most importantly, Ellie has plenty. She has lots of toys and doesn’t need more “stuff” in her life. Children fare much better falling in love with a couple of excellent toys than having myriad toys that they rarely play with. I realise that this isn’t an option for some people, but we’d much rather that people just come and spend some time with Ellie and create a memory with her; granted she probably won’t remember her birthday in the long-term (she will be raving about it in the short term), but she’ll have photos to look back on and see who was with her.

The completion of my family

With the arrival of Jack a few weeks ago, our family is now complete so these photos are the first of our whole family, causing me to ponder our little unit and the responsibilities of raising them well.

Following the arrival of Jack, my family is now complete. My beautiful wife Martina, my daughter Ellie and my son Jack now make up our little family unit of four, with no more room at the inn.

Jack will be the last of our children so these pictures are the first of our whole family. Even though I’m well aware of the fact that I have a wife and a daughter and a son, to see our family together in a photo somehow makes it seem that much more surreal. I actually have a complete family; it might seem weird for me to say that, but it really hits home that we’re now a whole independent unit responsible to and for one another. And we’ve got another couple of decades like this before we start to divide and multiply. Continue reading “The completion of my family”

How to spell a name

I have a strong distaste for the deliberate misspelling of names in the name of uniqueness or expression. They just look ugly and cause problems later in life.

I certainly don’t think of myself as old-fashioned, but when I see names spelled incorrectly, I’m sure I come off that way.

This became especially noticeable to me when I moved to America. Evidently, there is a cultural trend here of giving your child a unique name for the sake of them having a name that no one else does but also it seems as something of a status symbol, that you were free or daring enough to spell it differently.

To me, alternative spellings not only look weird and ugly, but they just cause confusion in life.

And what is your name, ma’am?

Michaela. With an A, not an I, a K, not a CH, and a Y not an E.

It’s also just a progression of the bastardisation of language that people feel that they should just spell things how they sound or how they want in the name of expression. It’s the kind of attitude that is seeing through spelled as thru all too regularly and even in professional contexts.

Call me what you will, but to me, Rebekkah will always be Rebecca, Jacklynn will always be Jacqueline and Mikeal will always be Michael.

Further reading: Does a baby’s name affect its chances in life?

Stop using stop signs as default traffic control at intersections

America could benefit greatly from refraining from installing those devilish red octagons at every intersection and using yield signs instead

Stop signs. If you live in the USA, these are a very common sight. You can find them pretty much anywhere two roads cross paths. In the rest of the world, this isn’t quite the case.

They do the job, supposedly. They create a set of rules where there is no question who has the right of way at a junction. When you arrive at a stop sign, you must bring your vehicle to a complete stop and only proceed when it is safe to do so.

The trouble is that they are extremely burdensome and inefficient. They have become the default method of controlling traffic at intersections, but they’re overbearing. Continue reading “Stop using stop signs as default traffic control at intersections”

Don’t break your children

This article was making the rounds on Facebook late last year and I just thought it was an excellent read from a regular Joe dad.

Dan starts off by describing a situation that he witnessed which is probably more common than any of us dare to consider. In this situation, a father screamed at his child until he cowered in his presence. What kind of parents wants their child to fear them, that they might lash out at any minute?

Continue reading “Don’t break your children”

Parenting daughters and parenting sons

I take my role as a father to Ellie incredibly seriously, but as I ponder the prospect of a son, I wonder how different I will parent him than I have parented Ellie.

ellie-smiling-at-daveI am the very happy and very proud father of an amazing girl called Ellie. Parenting her has felt like I’ve found my calling. I was meant to father a daughter, which is weird given how set Martina & I were on having a boy to begin with.

Once we had a girl though, we fell in love and wouldn’t have it any other way. I couldn’t even imagine having a boy!

But now, here we are, and we are having a boy, which has forced the reality upon me and got me thinking: how am I going to father a son? Continue reading “Parenting daughters and parenting sons”

Giving gifts in 2014

Me and my family are scaling back on gifts, given the frenzy that Christmas has become and the fact that we already have everything we need or want

I think I’ve finally got there. I’m Scrooge.

Maybe not. I think I’m just equally as disillusioned as everyone else is about gift-giving these days.

Christmas has lost the magic and wonder that it once had and it’s instead been replaced with high expectations from your children and peers of what they expect Santa to deliver on Christmas morning (don’t you remember when you had no idea what Santa would bring?).

This has obviously been going on for a long time, and some people my age may have been the same way when they were young as kids are today. And the parents don’t help matters, giving in to the onward march of capitalism into every avenue of their lives.

I have been ever more skeptical of capitalism after watching the creep of “Black Friday” move into Thanksgiving Day to the point where families are now not having dinner together, because they’re out fighting over a TV at Walmart. Continue reading “Giving gifts in 2014”