Because I said so

“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.

Children, shopping and tantrums

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.

Why we’re always apologising to our children

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.

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

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

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.

How to spell a name

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

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.

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?

Parenting daughters and parenting sons

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?

Giving gifts in 2014

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.