Friday, February 10, 2012

Your child is acting like an a-hole, and it's your fault. No offense.

Recent brunch experience.

Me:  Table for three?
Smartly dressed parents:  Well, we need a minute.  Sweetie, what do you want for brunch?  Do you want eggs?  Do you want to stay here?
Toddler:  DAK!
Oh, okay honey.  Sorry, he wants pancakes.  You don't have those do you?  We'll have to come back.

Of course, I start laughing, because they have to be joking, right?  They're not.  They look at me, visibly confused and a little angry.
BAA!
Sorry, he really wants pancakes.  We have to go.  But we'll be back!

     Two things.
     First, I thought DAK! was pancakes.  That's what he said initially.  What the hell is BAA?  Oh, maybe it's eggs Florentine.  We have that, so you should stay.  Or maybe he's 14 months old and isn't saying anything.  That could be a possibility, right?
     Second, please don't come back.  You're failing  miserably at parenting, and may be a bad influence on the rest of the new mothers and fathers that like to hang around these parts.

     When did our toddlers start deciding what we have for brunch?  Actually I shouldn't say that.  Lucien always decides what I have for brunch.  It's usually an English muffin with cream cheese because those things are stocked with some regularity in my fridge.
     We don't go out to brunch.


             These bananas were delicious yesterday.  Today, they are invoking the terror of a thousand nightmares.

     Lucien is 15 months old.  He wants to toddle around, yell, and throw things.  He mostly loves being the loudest voice in the room and tossing things over his shoulder, like he couldn't possibly have any use for them.  These things are totally awesome (to me) and totally normal for a kid his age.  Which is why I don't attempt to strap him to a high chair for an hour, in public, before I've had my first cup of coffee.
     That is just the obvious choice, for me.

     But I digress.  Back to these particular parents, and their foodie toddler.
     Their toddler is literally deciding what they are having for breakfast.  This is not okay.  This is why most children you meet these days are little a-holes.  This is why the future of civilization as we know it is basically doomed.
     Somewhere in the last decade or so, the kids got all the power.
     Parents of the world- we've got to get it back.

     As I write this, my beautiful, perfect child is licking the floor.  Oooh, now he's seeing if he can fit his whole foot in his mouth.  Do you think it is appropriate for this unrefined being to decide where we'll be brunching today?  No.  It's not.
     Herein lies my first guess about our collective loss of parenting power.
     We have become so obsessed with "milestones" and if our children are reaching them, that we are constantly pushing them to be more advanced than they are, and actually believing our own BS.
     For example, your 13 month old isn't perusing the menu- she's guesstimating how much of it she can fit into her mouth.  That is normal.  That is fine.  What is not normal, is assuming that she is doing anything other than the obvious.  You see, when you are operating on the assumption that this little being you created has as much intelligence as you do, it starts to seem normal to defer decision making to said being.

     You never hear parents bragging about how much their child likes to try shoving their rolled up dirty diaper in their mouth, or how they have an amazing affinity for sucking on slippers.  I mean, why brag about that stuff- it's base, and sort of barbaric, and not very impressive.  Better to talk about how they've mastered sign language to communicate all of their needs, can pick out their favorite bedtime story, and know how to say "clap hands" in Spanish.  Right?
    Wrong.  Vicious cycle begins.  We become so paranoid about keeping up with other parents and their super accomplished children that we never really honestly speak about our parenting pitfalls- about how unimpressive our child's development might really be.  We just constantly want to keep up,  I mean, I'm not a good parent if my child isn't keeping up, right?  So rather than seeing our children for what they are,  we push them to be what they're not.
     And they end up deciding where we are having brunch.
     That is how it happens.

     The point of this whole post is- your child isn't saying pancakes.  And that's okay.  And you are the parent and get to decide what you are having for breakfast- and that's okay, too.  Stop seeing your child as the next Steve Jobs- and start seeing him as a little animal that needs training and guidance.

     The future of our civilization is depending on it.

56 comments:

  1. bravo! I knew some parents that would frequent a restaurant that i worked at, after about a year or so one evening they showed up with these two little kids. i asked who these kids belong to...nieces, nephews... nope! the parents reply was so refreshing, they said, "no, these are ours, they just were not ready to go out to dinner yet." wow, amazing!

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    1. This sounds fair enough but I also think children need to be taken out to a resteraunt to learn these skills. They aren't going to learn proper resteraunt skills sitting at home. We regularly go out for dinner but will alway choose a child friendly resteraunt and I will order what I think is healthy and appropriate choice

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    2. In my opinion dinner time at home is for learning how to behave at the table. Eating politely shouldn't just be something we do in a restaurant.

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    3. "They aren't going to learn proper resteraunt skills sitting at home."

      Yes they will! Teach them how to do it. You don't put someone in an airplane their first day because they'll crash into the ground immediately. You teach them in safe environment where you aren't going to piss off every other eater in the restaurant along with the wait staff...

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    4. Are you serious??? Well how nice of you to choose "child-friendly" places so the rest of us don't have have our meals destroyed while your precious darling hones their skills.

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    5. My eldest grand daughter has been behaving herself perfectly in restaurants since she was 8 weeks old. Maybe she is an exception...........but I don't think so. Some restaurants are suitable for small children and in other cases it is just totally unreasonable to expect a lively small person to sit still and "behave" whilst its parents spend 3 hours enjoying themselves and totally ignoring the poor thing. Incidentally, here in France it is illegal to refuse to have children in your restaurant.

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    6. These same people saying little kids should be eating out before they know how the hell to act should be forced to sit next to that family. They obviously don't have kids...or wait...Gisele is that you?! The perfect mama w/ perfect kids.
      My kids are BIG...20, 14 and 11 and I still don't like taking them out to eat. It becomes a contest in who can make mom snap first. Hubs and I go out alone. We tell them we are going "grocery shopping" and bail. Hey they know where the fridge is. They are old enough to use the stove. Say what you want but it works...and our sanity depends on it!

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  2. Yeah, my 11 month old does not like to put slippers in her mouth. She prefers to gnaw on her 4-year old sister's dirty sneakers. She also likes dog toys. And dog dishes. And shoving her face in the dog's butt.

    What's a girl to do?

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    1. Ha! If we had a dog, he'd probably be doing that too.

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    2. So Funny, and true I am sure! I got a laugh and needed it tonight. I really dislike unruly children....Mom just had to give me "the look". I did not have a dog or baby sister...still sure I was corrected!:)

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  3. I think it was Fran Lebowitz who said about parents dining out that you should ask a child what he wants to eat only if he is paying.

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  4. This is the most amazing thing I've ever read in regards to parenting! I don't have kids, but a lot of friends do and some treat their children like the brunching parents. A nice brunch is for adults, not children. There are some parents that understand that and some that don't! Glad to see there are more parents out there that understand their children are just that. Children. Ease up!

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  5. haha, brilliant post that I wholeheartedly agree with. I love my minions, but I do not enjoy taking them places.

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  6. Absolutely brilliant! I couldn't agree more with you. I found your blog through STFUParents on Facebook and have spent the past 45 minutes reading your other posts - Love! It's so nice to see that somebody else is just as irreverent about this whole mom thing.
    Just wanted to send an "atta girl" from another mom whose now-16-month-old pooped in utero and instigated an emergency c-section. :)

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    1. Aww- thanks! And thanks for telling me about the STFU post. I was wondering why I got such a crazy spike in reads!

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    2. I just found you too via Stfuparents! Yeay! I love finding clever, funny mommy blogs! I've also found you on Twitter (thanks to your sister, Michelle!) but not on Facebook. :(

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    3. I'm on Facebook under "Guerrilla Mom a.k.a Maria Guido." Thanks so much!

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  7. My sleep deprived brain cannot think of anything better to say than BOOM. Kelly reminded me of one of my kids favorite toys - a rubber chicken dressed as a playboy bunny, which is a dog toy.
    As an ex hospo Mum and with a chef husband, we hardly ever take our kids out to eat at restaurants, even at 2 & 4 years old. Nobody wants to see my kids running around being normal rowdy kids.

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  8. I agree and disagree, I take my children to brunch, we decide where we are going not them, and they are expected to act civilized or we would be leaving, : )

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  9. Awesome post if only there were more parents like you in this world, those of us that cant have children would feel less threatened by the fact you have something wonderful you love and cherish, and not the next Einstein you all think you have. Having offspring is probably the most common thing on this planet. They are just an animal, a blank canvas you can either bring up to be a beautiful human being, or a spoilt little asshole.

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  10. Well done! My children are 7 and 10. I'm always amazed when I hear my friends saying that "well, I was going to sign them up for swimming/soccer/violin/church school/whatever, but I just couldn't talk them into it". I don't talk my children into things. I tell them what they'll be doing. And they are crazy about me, strangely enough.

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    1. Oh, man, if you thought my kids acted like douchebags already, I'd love for you to see them if I signed them up for an extracurricular activity that they didn't want to do. Throwing a gigantic fit in the swimming pool loud enough to disrupt five simultaneous classes is definitely worse than throwing the toast around at brunch.

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    2. Which is the point of the article. My kids sure as hell aren't perfect, but they wouldn't dare throw a fit because they didn't want to participate. A glare is all I need in public as I've disciplined them enough at home for them to know that "Momma's the boss; listen to Momma. Hear what Momma says."

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    3. This sounds crazy. So you make your child take violin lessons? What is the point? I can see forcing swim lessons, math, church, or reading. Those are great life skills. But something like violin or soccer? What a waste of money to force your child to do something like that when they will be dumping it as soon as they are allowed to think for themselves. Two points here:
      1) Studies show that anyone (child or adult) who feels they cannot control their environment compensates by reducing their ability to care.
      2) It is a well known fact that children who are independent need their parents LESS, so they would be less clingy and less "crazy" about their parent. You know you did a good job raising your child if he/she goes off and doesn't call you when there is a problem. The child has learned to make choices and handle it his/herself.

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  11. I'm so torn here...while I'm completely the asshole parent bringing my kid to brunch (single working mom = babysitters are a luxury and time out of the house is a must on a Saturday am), I definitely don't give my terrorist any say in what we're eating.

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    1. If you can pay for a meal outside of your home, you can pay for a babysitter. They aren't THAT expensive.

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    2. I wouldn't say just the act of bringing your child(ren) to a brunch is, in and of itself, sufficient cause to brand you (or anyone else) an asshole parent. If the kid is quiet, doesn't grab the food with bare hands or fling it all over, waits in line without whining or shoving, then yes by all means bring the kid. If you're willing to take the child outside should a meltdown occur (and even though I'm not a parent, I do understand that sometimes meltdowns happen), then again bring the child. However, if you let the kid be a nuisance to others, that would meet the criteria of being an asshole parent IMHO.

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  12. We adopted our child in China when she was 8 1/2. She was put into our arms and it was lunch time 20 minutes later. If you wanted to eat, you HAD to go to the hotel restaurant. Sometimes things went very well. Sometimes they did not. We knew when to get up and go. We also learned to keep paper napkins on hand all the time and stuff as much food as we could into them so we wouldn't starve when the kid needed to leave.

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  13. I'm not saying that children should never be out in public! Oh god- we would never be able to go anywhere! We both work, can't afford a babysitter- you know the deal. But we do take him to places at certain "dead" times and leave if he acts up. I live in a very weird "kid culture" here in Brooklyn- they really rule the roost. It's kind of amazing.
    Thank you all for reading and taking the time to comment. Can't tell you how happy it makes me.

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  14. I love this. I've said for a while that you're not doing your child any favors by letting them think they're in charge. I happily wear the badge of the World's Meanest Mommy and tell my kids 'no' when necessary. This is why they know how to behave in public. I'm also smart enough to choose kid-friendly places and, if all else fails, just leave. It's worked for my 5 kids!

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  15. Move closer to me! We could meet half way but isnt the middle of the US kinda lame? It irritates the shit out of me when parents do this... though, honestly, I have to admit- with two gremlins in tow I may give in to one or the other every once in the while just to keep the peace... I try not to... but when I feel like I'm about to either burst into tears or have an insane swearing/throwing tantrum IIIIII just might!

    I also can't stand the competitiveness (WTF my brain is fried sorry) of parents with their kids.. that's why you have to find good Momma friends who accept your kids for who they are (little a-holes) I had a moment today while baking cupcakes with my kids (before I threw them out of the kitchen) where I thought, "I just want my 4 year old to be able to be 4..." Sadly, again, this oh-- wait have to go.. my 4 y/o is tying my 16 m/o up like a dog.
    Keep writing Maria!

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    1. I like your parenting style, but what's with the "isn't the middle of the US kinda lame?" I and lots of others are from just that area of the US. This divide and conquer attitude hurts the "Whole US", we are all part of the same "home team"! God Bless America!

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    2. Here in the lame middle of the US, we have kids too. And the same problems. For the same reasons. You have the 'regular' parents who go unnoticed because their kids have been told 'no' and thus know how to behave. Then you have the 'self-esteemees' who don't know the difference between punishment and discipline and thus let their kids run everything. (Either that or they hate everybody anyway and just don't give a shit about being polite. Let's not forget that asshole adults often [not always] raise asshole children.)

      We have three girls (I'm the 'doomed dad' when they become teens). We're firmly with Maria. We do go out. To appropriate places. At appropriate times. Do we have less freedom? Sure. Do we resent it to the point that we force our unruly brood onto other people who paid for babysitters? No.

      On my grandmother's 80th birthday, we took our eldest (then 2 years old) to the party at a very nice restaurant that normally does not PERMIT anyone under the age of ten inside. (We understood.) My grandmother knew the owner and sweet-talked him into letting her in. And we had a good time.

      BUT...

      EVERYONE in the group kept an eye on The Little One. Momma and I took turns eating and watching. The explicit agreement was that we were leaving when you-know-who started acting up. (Amazingly, she was good for TWO HOURS before it became Time To Go.)

      And it was fine. Sure, we left earlier than everyone else, but no big messes were had, because someone was always watching. People took turns so no one ws left out of the adult parts. (You know, Real Conversations.) We left when Little Miss was at her limit so we didn't ruin the goodwill we got from the owner. It worked out.

      But we had to know a Certain Little Person's limits, and work together to deal with them. Ignoring it or just hoping it would all be fine wasn't going to work.

      Taking 'orders' (perceived or not) is a bad, bad habit. You are doomed when he or she turns THREE if you still have that habit. You're going to have to take charge and make things happen properly or you'll be the one in the Department Store We All Love to Hate with the screaming kid on the floor. Don't. Be. That. Guy. I'M the adult. I just have to act like one. ;)

      Listening to your child is one thing. OBEYING your child is another thing entirely.

      Love your blog, Maria.

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    3. Divide and conquer is also a popular attitude in the US. Just throwin' that out there.

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  16. Great info, my kids are almost 5 years apart, one night we took my daughter 3 1/2 to a local family restaurant - she was horrible, I explained to her that no one else wants to pay for their food and listen to her, I gave her a warning that she could stop and we would stay and order or we would go home and eat PB&J - she kept it up and we left a tip on the table and left. A few years later her little brother started the same thing, I told him we would leave - she looked at him as said "they'll do it!!" I have never had to give more than a warning since that first time I took her home!!!

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  17. We are very mean parents if not letting kids rule the roost is mean! I cannot imagine letting kids run the house. How awful!

    Our household has 7, going on 9 kids (11 and under), and we do not let them run the place. In fact, people think we are *so mean* because we make lunch and dinner without asking what anyone wants, and expect them to eat it. If they don't eat the meal, well, they don't eat. And these kids never go hungry, and they aren't picky, so this strategy has worked just fine. Its really pretty simple. We aren't mean, we try to buy and prepare tasty food that everyone likes (in general). Im just not a short order cook.

    At restaurants, the little ones (under 2) simply get removed if they are being loud or making a mess. After being taken away from the food and fun a few times, they usually catch on. And we don't do this at a fancy restaurant either, only big kids (over 5) with good manners, get to go to nice places. We go out a lot, so its not impossible to have kids that behave in restaurants.

    I'm no genius, Im a barely adequate to average parent- and the kids are *not* angels. They are kids, they do gross stuff, run around like maniacs, talk about poop, and torment each other. They just do these things at home, not in public. Its amazing how a few rules, plus enforcement, can turn chaos into something resembling order.

    The parents that let their kids run the show ARE making a whole bunch of little a- holes. Rude, inconsiderate, lazy, little a-holes. Thankfully, there are many of us out there that don't do this. However, when people see us coming, they cringe. We get lots of stares (and rude comments) at the sheer number of kids, but we get lots of compliments when we leave too. Where we live (Portland area) there are lots of bratty, overindulged kids, so I know exactly what you are talking about!

    Love the blog btw!!!!

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    1. "Its amazing how a few rules, plus enforcement, can turn chaos into something resembling order."

      Sometimes I feel like I'm being a "mean" parent, but my son (age 5) still loves me, and my husband and I are constantly being complimented on how well-behaved he is. (Even when WE think he's being too rowdy!) More parents need to ENFORCE their rules. Kids catch on to idle threats pretty quickly so as parents it's our DUTY to follow through! And kudos to you for being able to wrangle all those tikes. I'm sure you make it look (relatively) effortless! :-)

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    2. We ask what the kids want. But the 8-year old enjoys looking at cooking blogs and finding ideas for yummy things to cook *and* she likes helping. So she's helpful.

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  18. My 2 year old put me in time out. She witnessed me playfully pat my wife on the rear, which to a toddler, violates the "no hitting" rule. My wife, not missing an opportunity, supported my daughter and escorted me to my time out spot sporting a big grin. I don't know if my "lead by example" act caused my daughter to stop hitting (or I just tell myself it did) but I definitely learned a lesson.

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  19. As a mom of older kids (16 and 19) whose friends are all having babies now. I see so many different schools of thought on EVERYTHING. Also very distinct opinions on how one should parent, give birth, feed... the list goes on.

    I was young with my first (24) and by the time the second one came along was a single parent for the next 10 years. If I can offer any words of wisdom it would be the following: Give kids predetermined choices (like 2) when we would go out for brunch or dinner etc. since I already knew their likes and dislikes this gave them "autonomy" but in a reasonable way, plus kids can't read menus... so there. If they couldn't make up their mind I just ordered something. Same thing goes for clothes- although really unless they were freezing I couldn't care if they matched (plus it's great fodder for later especially if you take pictures).

    Have your kids eat what you eat. I never made 2 dinners, my kids ate when I ate and ate what I ate. Dinner was always something to be excited about. My room mate and I would cook and we would all sit down and discuss the day. This coming together gives them the clues of how to eat and what to do at the table. A few years ago my daughter asked how I got them to eat everything (as they are adventurous eaters) I told her she didn't know that they shouldn't.

    Parenting is hard- and you don't really know that till your already locked and loaded. Children are people but with less life experience. I broke it down for my son once (in video game terms) "Listen I'm at level 43 you are only at level 16- there are no cheats you've just got to either figure it out or take some guidance along the way. I'm here to help you."

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    1. Love that. His father loves video games, so I might try that with him, too.

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    2. You make more sense than the blog. Kids need to learn to make decisions and giving them two is perfect. I do that with my son too and I always make the decision something I am okay with either way. For example, I ask if he wants the chicken nuggets or hamburger at the restaurant, but then order whichever he decides with the veggie side rather than let him make a choice about french fries I don't want him to have. I see nothing wrong with giving a child two chioces in breakfast restarants either, as long as I don't care which we go to. If I cared, I wouldnt ask my 2 year old which to go to.

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  20. Just so you know, my wife and I have used a very similar excuse to leave a restaurant because the service was terrible and our waiter was an ass. Just sayin.

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  21. What happened to the days where the parent was the parent and the children were seen and not heard .I hate going out to stores and restaurants where there are kids I think if you can't take your child out in public without him or her acting like they are the boss and everyone around them needs to listen to them .Wheres the parenting these days . Get. A backbone and discipline them don't just let them go on like they run the place and everyone in it by just ignoring it . The last time I was too a restaurant a child was running all over the place disrupting every one in the place eventually the child ran into the waitress and she dropped a hole tray of food on the floor while the parents did nothing no apology to the ppl who were waiting some time for there meal and no apology to the waitress they let it continue as if the child was at home . Who's the pArent

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    1. I agree with you on everything but the "seen and not heard" bit. Kids deserve to be heard, just not to be disruptive.

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  22. My favorite time to go out to eat with my 3 kids (2,4 & 6) is 4:30pm. The restaurants are mostly empty, and the senior crowd either either amused by the sight of kids, or approves of hearing them corrected when they get a bit rowdy. Busy adults who really need a relaxing and child free dinner are just arriving as we make our exit around 5:15 or so.

    I'm convinced that part of the excessively child centered culture comes from only having 1 or 2 kids - once you are outnumbered, you realized as a parent that you *must* put a stop to that sort of behavior or risk total anarchy.

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    1. once you are outnumbered, you realized as a parent that you *must* put a stop to that sort of behavior or risk total anarchy.
      Y
      ou make a very good point ;)

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  23. I love your last line about children being little barbaric animals who need guidance. SO. TRUE. Anyone who has watched the UK TV series "Cutting Edge" episodes of "Boys and Girls Alone" can attest to that. When a group of 8-11 year old kids are left "alone" in a house for five days with no parents (supervised through CCTV to ensure safety), it was like "Lord of the Flies." Within three days the kids had eaten all the cereal and milk, destroyed the rest of the food, and ransacked the house. Children are NOT adults, they are NOT mentally capable of making good decisions. Stop pretending otherwise. Your child, like all others, is barely capable of getting him/herself dressed in the morning. If your child is a toddler, it is less able than my dog to sit still and be quiet. I don't bring my dog to restaurants, and my dog is better behaved and better trained to manners than most children I see in public. Be considerate. I've left MY precious little animal at home. Kindly reciprocate, and do the same with yours.

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  24. I completely agree with this blog. Personally, I advocate a form of non-coercive parenting, but even I agree that unrealistic expectations of children and inappropriately-paced parenting are incredibly asinine.

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  25. Happy SITS day. I love this post and yes as a parent I have let my child make decisions just to keep the peace but as an adult I have also realized it is wrong and making our lives not so adult. I totally agree with the milestone business I mean does our child really need to be toilet trained at 9 months or signing that it needs to go potty at 9 months for that point.

    LOVE THIS POST!

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  26. One of my biggest fears as a parent was to have a brat for a kid. Turns out, my daughter is a total sweetheart. She is 11 now, so not really throwing temper tantrums in restaurants, but there was one time when I brought her into a nice little boutique shop and she threw a tantrum. She did not want to be there, so she was throwing a fit. What's a mom to do? So I ignored her insane bellowing as I quickly paid for my purchases and then I took her out of the store, squatted down, looked her straight in the eye and said, in my sternest voice, "Don't you EVER pull that again." And you know what? She never did. She knew I meant business when I said it.

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  27. I have t ol admit to,beimg guilty of the aforementioned nehavior when my daughter was first born. Now that she's five, I've long since learned to just let her be 5 and nothing more. She is,not capable of making important decisions, that's why I exist. At least for right now.

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