What Advice Would You Give Your Daughter As She Transitions Into Womanhood?

Women supporting women.

When I was growing up, I wish someone had told me to bury the past, to keep my eyes focused firmly on the road ahead, and to embrace the company of women.

An out-of-the-blue email from an old girlfriend prompted me to write this post. The first true girlfriend of my adulthood – ie. after kids – we were the only two mums in our parenting class with babies that refused to commit to the stepping stones of perfection outlined in the parenting manuals. Shamed by a smarmy group of other first-time mums whose kids were nailing them, we got through the shit show on wine, whinging and WTFs.

It took me a long time to connect with women. Raised through my teens by a single and unconventional father, it wasn’t until my late twenties and the births of my own children, that I was thrust among the fairer sex. Before that, the majority of my friends had been men. Sharing their black and white space, that felt devoid of emotional complications – other than those unfortunate misunderstandings about the status of our relationship – I felt calmer.

Since then, of course, I’ve come to terms with the bollocks to be found in the majority of self-help books about the search for happiness and personal fulfillment. Experience has shown me that the streets aren’t paved with gold, that life can be grossly unfair, and that the only way to make any sense of life is to make the best of what you have. And this newfound wisdom has helped me understand more about the differences between men and women, and the reason why friendships with men used to appear more attractive/straightforward. It’s because they have fewer layers.

Sounds derogatory, I know. Although, not as insulting as the word “depth,” which is the one I really wanted to use. But hear me out, because my employment of the word is not meant to be a judgment about men’s personality flaws or their shoddy housework skills (this time), I use it to champion women and the female experience of life.

I believe, that because the role of women requires so much more emotional labor and intelligence than theirs, (which I spoke about here), and we experience greater physical and emotional trauma – eg. during menstruation, childbirth, and menopause – we experience a more visceral understanding of ourselves as humans and our place in this world. You only have to look at the women who have experienced near-death experiences in childbirth, or from rape, or those whose husbands left them on the poverty line, with nothing but the kids, for examples.

Whereas, men – and I’m generalizing here because this is not a discussion about the mental health of men or the stress some experience as sole earners of their family etc – seem more transparent, more easy-going, (dare I say) less judgemental than women. (Obviously, what I’d really like to say is “simple” – in the nicest possible way.) And while there are no doubt evolutionary and physiological explanations to why one gender carries the burden of more emotional baggage than the other, it is nevertheless impossible to ignore the societal influence of male privilege. Perhaps, that’s why, (on a social level), men seem less confrontational than women – who are judged throughout their lives, making them complicated creatures.

While I’ll admit that many of my closest female friends have always secretly terrified me, fortunately for women, kids are a glue that draws us together. The uncanny ability of our offspring to extract emotion from the most determinedly cold hearts, to frazzle nerves, to provoke self-doubt and tears, and to force us to question just about everything as they chip away relentlessly at our resilience and turn our brains to pulp, are the main reason the coffee morning was invented.

In spite of the suspicions of certain men, the purpose of the coffee morning is (generally) not to discuss the latest fashions, the most energy-efficient washing machine, or the last time we had an orgasm. Coffee mornings are about support, about building resilience and sharing experiences. Men should try it, sometime.

Women are there for women on those days the dam bursts. When all those tantrums in the supermarket have finally worn you down; when the barrage of abuse at dinner time (each time you force their kids to eat peas) becomes too much; when you lose your job; or when you burst into tears in the vegetable section of Coles because someone took the last ripe avocado.

Who better to rely upon in those situations than someone who has got the tee-shirt, on those days you’re sobbing into your phone, wine in one hand, and the scalp of your third child in the other? The truth is, your girlfriends are the only ones who can help you make sense of the new, terrifying vulnerability that comes from having your emotions and hormones put through a spiralizer.

Because THEY’VE BEEN THERE.

Personally, I’m a pretty rubbish girlfriend. Over the years, my attempts to feign the habits of a worthy friend have improved, but alas, for the main part they remain superficial. I try to be better than the sub-standard set of female instincts that nature provided me with – to remember birthdays, special events, cards etc – however, an unhealthy obsession to overthink, a possible case of early onset dementia, and a natural scattiness have determined that I will never be that thoughtful, perfect friend that some of us are lucky to have in our lives. I can only hope that those friends who always make the first call or send the first text understand that my silence is unrelated to their worth.

Sadly – and yes, here comes the excuse – some people travel through life with the baggage of their past stuck as firmly to their shoulders as a backpack. And it has been easy to blame my detachment issues on any number of things – and I do. I am what they call an Olympian “victim”. The divorce of my parents, the loss of my mother (and some things that even I’m not ready to share) have been assimilated (rather than dealt with), to protect myself – a self-defensive mechanism that has had some unfair repercussions for our kids, in particular, our daughter.

NC has recently entered a phase of self-reflection. Like her mother, she has struggled to open the box fully on her emotions, but as she matures she is becoming more aware of the dangers of that choice. A bystander to the emotional carnage caused by the death of my mother, and our struggles with Kurt, she has inherited my need for control when it comes to her emotions. The concept of a free fall terrifies her, but she can’t ignore the logic of her scientist’s brain: that putting up barriers will prevent her development and thwart any positive relationships in her life – what she needs to reach her full potential.

Hence, there are two pieces of advice I wish to share with my daughter: the first is to surround herself and nurture relationships with a group of strong, intelligent, and diverse women who will challenge her and blow the wind in her sails when she needs it. The second is to put her heart on the line and to dare to love and trust.

What would be yours?

My 7 Hottest Tips For How To Endure A Middle-Aged Marriage

My 6 Hottest Tips For How To Endure The Middle-Aged MarriageDo you get sucked into those online articles about what makes relationships work, how you can improve your relationship, or ‘the four things every successful relationship must have’?

I’m afraid I do, and they always leave me feeling defeated, because generally I can’t identify with any of them.

I suppose I’m drawn to them for some sort of reassurance, to check I’m doing something right in my life, (even though sometimes it feels harder than it should), and that we’re on the right course.

But he never sends me flowers impulsively, I never get a heart-shaped Brazilian to surprise him and we rarely admit how much we love each other.

I was shamed the other day when one such article asked how often you show your partner gratitude, and I couldn’t think of one nice, unselfish thing I’ve done for the old man in the past five years. It pains me to admit it, but when it comes to rash demonstrations of love, the old man is better at them than me – probably just his way of making me feel even more inadequate.

But it’s easier for him. He’s always been more tactile – a bit of a groper, if truth be told.

Do you ever look at your friends or other couples and wonder how they work together? It’s impossible from the outside to define why some relationships work and others don’t and my personal belief is that it’s dangerous to over-think them. There are so many uncontrollable factors that can trigger a relationship breakdown, such as timing, upbringing, the changes that come with age, as well as changes to our personal circumstances and goals.

I’m far from a ‘smug married’ – our friends will all vouch for the fact that the old man and I have teetered on the edge of a marital volcano since he stammered out the words ‘I do,’all those decades ago.

Nevertheless: here’s my guide to how we endure our crazy marriage:

Equality, and not being a doormat – and that is aimed at both sexes. Unbelievably, many women’s magazines still continue to propagate the idea that women need to make their men feel loved, appreciated and superior, in order to keep them. Apparently, we need to rub their ego with butter and reaffirm their status as the hunter – even when we contribute to fifty percent of the relationship.

‘BULLSHIT!’ I say.

Don’t get me wrong, ‘door-matting’ is not about giving up work to raise your children, or doing the lion’s share of the cooking. But it IS about not arguing your point when you feel strongly about it, doing most of the chores because it’s easier, or allowing your partner to demonstrate his/her lack of respect for you. Door matting is when you don’t feel worthy or equal in your partnership, and do nothing about it.

Spending Time Together – I’m lucky because the old man is my best drinking partner. While many of my girlfriends, (like me), are beginning to lose their tolerance for more than a couple of glasses of wine due to the savageness of the ageing process, the old man has upped his intake, and we have our most heated and interesting discussions when we drink together. Other than drinking, we have very little in common and as I’m never going back out on a golf course and the old man would rather stick needles in his testicles than go to a writer’s festival, a mutual appreciation for good food may become our future hobby, once I completely resign myself to having no waist.

Intimacy – every psychologist will tell you that ‘touching’ is important. I’m naturally crap at it, but the old man is a pro when it comes to pawing – to the point that he irritates the fuck out of me sometimes, a feeling I can only explain by comparing his behaviour to that moment you hear a fly in your bedroom in the middle of the night. But secretly I kind of love it.

We’re far from traditional cuddlers – we can’t get physically further apart from each other in the bed due to excess body heat issues, (Note to self: avoid reading any article about what your sleep position says about your relationship), but he’s an impulsive, cuddler – the type that will try to grab at me in the kitchen, (usually when I’m carrying something hot), and then wonders why he gets swatted.

Arguing – we are the worst bickerers. It’s not something I’m proud of, but it’s unavoidable when you put an over-proud, opinionated bitch and an arrogant, over-opinionated asshole together. Kurt has been a contributing catalyst over the past few years, too. Fortunately, our spats are hot air for the most part; sparks and smoke that we can put out ourselves without calling 000, and we rarely go to sleep on an argument.

That is, unless he hasn’t admitted he’s wrong, obviously.

I see arguing as being honest, and if your relationship is strong enough to sustain it, I see nothing wrong with it.

Humor and laughing together – The ability to laugh when things are good and laugh when things are bad is ‘a must’ for marital survival in my book, and the old man and I excel in this area. Being able to laugh at each other is important too. I’m very good at laughing at the old man. He’s learning how to laugh at himself. He knows NEVER to laugh at me.

Wanting Your Marriage To Work – Neither of us went into this marriage with the aspiration that it had to work out. I came from divorced parents, so I assumed our marriage wouldn’t last, but we both agree now that the alternative and the effort involved in finding someone new, is a terrifying prospect – made more appalling by the embarrassment of having to get naked in front of a stranger.

I’ve always been a fervent believer in the ‘grass being greener’ philosophy of life. In past relationships I’ve been blindside by that lush, fertile, greener grass and now know that few relationships maintain that vivid colour of the early years; hence the need for real depth, respect and commitment.

There has to be a meeting of minds.

But no marriage is perfect, either – sometimes I’m appalled at the level of inane conversation we can waste our breath on these days about domesticity and the cost of food.

Giving Each Other Space – Doing your own thing, having your own interests and friends, chasing personal goals and living a life independent of your relationship keeps our relationship fresh.

Furthermore, our separate lives give us something to talk about on date night.

Hot Parenting Tip: The Timing Game

happy two little girls have fun and joy time at beautiful beach while running from joy

When Kurt was a little boy and struggled to entertain himself, sometimes the old man, in one of those last-ditched, desperate parental attempts to get five minutes peace, would resort to what we called the ‘timing game’.

I’m sure most of you parents will have resorted to this type of game with your kids at the park or on the beach at some point.

It happens after you’ve played the beach cricket and survived the tantrum, been forced to swim in sub-zero degrees water for so long your circulation has seized up, caved in on the ice cream in spite of your concerns about sugar and they’ve dropped it on the ground within the first minute, and you’ve finally run out of ideas.

But your child is still running around like the fucking Duracell bunny on speed.

(We didn’t have iPads in our day), so in desperation we’d suggest that they run somewhere. It made sense – the kids wore themselves out and we got that precious five minutes of peace to recharge. The run might be to the end of the beach or park, to the playground, or even to the next suburb if we were really frazzled. And what was the appeal to child, I hear you ask?

*Drumroll*   WE TIMED THEM.

Because kids really ARE that stupid.

Kurt always fell for the timing game, and upon reflection, I think I was sucked in by it only yesterday morning.

I’ve become a bit of an ill-tempered toddler when I’m on the beach these days. I love the concept of sunbathing and relaxing on the beach, when I’m not there, but beach reality for me is that the heat of the sun inflames my Rosacea, lying on lumpy sand hurts my back, the water is still far too cold to swim in and my self-esteem takes a nosedive when I’m forced to wear swimmers publicly.

And it doesn’t help that we always seem to sit next to Elle fucking MacPherson.

But the biggest issue for me is if you don’t like sun-bathing, there’s fuck all to do on the beach, and I hate doing nothing. So I can’t help myself. I become that irritating, whinging child.

“Is it time to go yet?”

“What shall I do?”

“Can I have something to eat?”

The old man, on the other hand, has never had a problem doing nothing, loves the challenge of cold water and ogling semi-clad younger woman and is not anxious like me, therefore doesn’t see the sun in the same way, as a cancer threat.

Yesterday morning, I actually WALKED to the beach in an attempt to wear myself out, while he drove the car there. I had packed my cossie and tried to look at the padded fabric at the front (for maximum muffin top concealment) positively and set myself up under the beach brollie in readiness for some serious relaxation. It took about three minutes for me to wonder what to do with myself, which is when I started moaning,.. and then I might have moaned some more when sand got stuck to my sun cream and I couldn’t read from my phone due to the glare from the sun.

‘I’ve got an idea,’ said the old man, suddenly uncharacteristically excited, ‘why don’t you walk to the end of the beach and see how many steps of your fitness target you use up?’

The old man and I are currently competing fixated on walking 10,000 steps per day, the recommended amount for fitness.

 

His suggestion sounded appealing. I couldn’t think what the catch could be.

‘And I’ll time you,’ he added.

Instantly energised, I jumped up like a puppy dog off to chase a brand new ball. And it was only after I had trudged all the way to the end of the beach in the searing heat that it dawned on me that the old man was playing ‘the timing game’.

10 Tips for Surviving a Weekend Away With An ADHD Teenager

So it wasn’t officially a holiday as such.

It was more of a mini break, if that constitutes 24 hours away from home with an ADHD teenager and the release of some pent up working mother’s guilt.

10 Tips For Surviving a Weekend Away With An ADHD Teenager

It was a final desperate attempt to find some quality time with my son amid a busy time work-wise that unfortunately always seems to coincide slap bang in the middle of the school holidays. There are only so many bribes you can invent and get away with when parenting, if you want to sleep at night. Anyway, our local shop had run out of Coco Pops and guilt-cash seemed to be walking out of my purse on a daily basis.

I eventually realised that the only way I could pull myself away from the computer and clients that were becoming more needy than my own kids, was to leave the office house completely.

Of course I had realised before our 24 hours together that the world according to Kurt was a very different place to the one the rest of us inhabit. But what I hadn’t fully appreciated before was just how astute and funny my son can be, when he is extricated from the everyday pressures and strains of living in the real world, my nagging and commonplace expectations that he finds so hard to fulfil.

You see, like a lot of parents, when I’m at home and bogged down by the day job, the housework, and failing to achieve some work/life balance, sometimes I overlook the enjoyment of relaxing and having a belly laugh with my kids.

Because Kurt has a very different view and appreciation of the world and the simplicity of the language he uses to describe his relationship with it and how it dovetails with his emotions can be highly entertaining at times.

I am ashamed to admit that I had forgotten that.

For example, when the most expensive exclusive restaurant in a cheap hotel served perhaps THE most delicious warm bread I’ve EVER eaten and Kurt commented, ‘I ain’t eating no bread with shit in the middle – that’s just wrong.’

10 Tips for Surviving a Weekend Away With An ADHD Teenager
Bread with shit in it.

Or when my amazing starter arrived and the oysters were presented on large ocean salt granules and Kurt whooped rather too loudly in front of the waitress:

‘Mum, you got Chrystal Meth with your oysters!’

IMG_2032

And upon finishing what was apparently the best steak he’d ever eaten, he said solemnly,’ That steak gave me an erection.’

And then there were those typically ADHD observations…

Like when I left my phone charger at home and typically Kurt became obsessed with telling me exactly how much battery I had left, EVERY MINUTE, until I am certain my hair actually started turning grey in front of him. But when I asked him at dinner how much battery I had left, he informed me that I had 50% charge remaining and when I asked him again, half an hour later, he said 52%, I was obviously puzzled and said, ‘but you said 50% half an hour ago.’ ‘

For Fucks Sake, Mum, I thought I’d finally try out that whole weird ‘rounding up thing’ you’ve been going on about in maths for years, and you still complain.’

I re-learned a lot about my son during that 24 hours, but here are some tips every parent going away with an ADHD teenager (or in fact any teenager) might want to consider:

  • Make a firm plan and above all stick to it. ADHD kids like to know what’s happening and ‘change’ is anathema to their mood. Some might question my judgment of doing a u-turn in the middle of a highway when I missed the promised Maccas on our route, but the one after was not part of the plan.
  • Let them play their music in the car no matter how awful it is – Jack White (I must stop calling him Jack Black because it makes Kurt really angry) and Nirvana aren’t exactly my cup of tea but I’m getting pretty good at drumming to Seven Nation Army on the steering wheel and Kurt is now very adept at playing guitar in the front seat. I am obviously Meg White – he is Jack.
  • Break up the journey with food promises/bribes.
  • Do not entrust an ADHD teenager with the room key-cards if you don’t want an awkward conversation at reception within the first hour of your stay.
  • Let them explore. Your ADHD teenager will need to check out everything in the hotel room, like the sharpest sleuth. Check they don’t put anything valuable in the safe ( I still miss that mascara) while they test it out, bring other soap and shampoo options with you because the hotel freebies will be emptied and assessed immediately and make sure you hide what sachets of tea and coffee you need for your stay before they secrete them into their baggage. Allow them wear the shower cap around the hotel if they want to – fight the wars, not the battles.
  • Don’t be surprised when they don’t assess situations like us. If you ask an ADHD kid to fetch you something from the room, he may consider that the quickest way will make you the happiest. I honestly don’t know why I was surprised when my sun cream came hurtling down eight levels from the balcony, although luckily it did go straight into the pool.
  • ADHD kids cannot wait for their food in restaurant which is why Maccas is often a safer option for your mental well-being.

10 Tips For Surviving a Weekend Away With An ADHD Teenager
ADHD kids can’t wait for food.

  • Diet, sleep and exercise are the three main requisites for a good trip with an ADHD teenager. Wear them out before bedtime, especially when you are sharing a room. Medication helps too.
  • Don’t feel guilty about bringing whatever electronic devices will help you entertain them in a hotel room which to them can seem like a prison cell and to you a torture chamber. No food on tap, no space to roam and none of their favourite programmes on the television will drive you both nuts.
  • Explain to them the full cost implications of the mini bar before you lose the plot.

Parenting Tips: Dogs versus Teenagers

 

If you had your choice again, what would you have?
If you had your choice again, what would you have?

The only ally I seem to have in the house these days is the dog.

I don’t want to sound like some pathetic male looking for an excuse, but she is the only one that understands me; or shows an ounce of appreciation for what I do for her.

There is a bit of tension in our house at the moment. There have been heated discussions about the long-term effects of the ADHDer’s teenage angst on the family.

Nerd Child wants to have him put down, the old man has reinstated his invisibility cloak and only the dog remains by my side, my best friend and loyal ally.

Fundamentally, because I keep her alive.

If I do leave this house, (as I’ve threatened the ADHDer on several recent occasions just in case he has some ridiculous notion about pipping me to the post), the dog will sadly die from starvation or neglect.

If the ADHDer were a dog, I’d have been able to return him to the dog home by now.  There should be a special home for delinquent teenagers who have been excessively annoying to their parents.

If only he were a dog, then I could condition him to do what I wanted and he would show gratitude for even the tiniest morsels of love and lick me lovingly, (instead of sneering at me with those eyes of pure hatred).

When I am reincarnated into that young rich bitch with inherited wealth and living in my waterfront mansion at Potts Point, I will choose to have a houseful of Spoodles to share my home, and there will be a sign on the door saying ‘No Kids’.

Here are a few reasons why dogs make better offspring than teenagers:

  • A dog’s love is unconditional. The relationship I have with our dog is uncomplicated (unless she poos when I walk her) unlike the one I have with my teenagers – there are no lies, hidden meanings or mood swings to worry about. I am the mistress and she is the dog, and she respects me for it.
  • My teenagers’ love, on the other hand, is dependent upon conditions: how much money I give them; how much I ask them to help out in the house; how strict I am about curfews; how much music practice I force them to do; whether I remember to buy Coco Pops.
  • The dog is always in my vicinity but never in my face. The teenagers are always in my vicinity and usually trashing it. They are always in my face when they want something and stay there until they get it.
  • The dog eats everything I put in front of her without complaint.  The dog doesn’t pretend to wretch when I cook something new or refuse to eat the meal because it wasn’t what they expected.
  • The dog sleeps when I sleep, plus an additional ten hours so I only have at least six hours of the day with her. The teenagers sleep when they want to, usually at odd times of the day and night and without consideration for anyone else’s sleep patterns.
  • The dog buries her poo, the teenagers leave it in the toilet for me to flush.
  • The dog stops barking when I ask her to. The teenagers do not respond to simple requests to turn down their noise (usually because they can’t hear me) making it therefore necessary to shout or nag.
  • The dog does not have selective hearing. She comes when I call her.
  • The dog does not drink my wine, nor does she get loud or silly.
  • The dog does not demand clean clothes with a few minutes notice and then tut at me for not mind-reading her plans.
  • If the dog pukes from over-indulgence, she cleans her own mess up.
  • The dog always looks at me with love. The teenagers haven’t looked at me with love since I bought each of them their first mobiles.
  • When I leave the dog in the house while I am out, she does not leave every cupboard door or drawer open or eat all of my special Muesli. She has a self-drying coat so I don’t have to worry about picking up her discarded towels.
  • When the dog goes out, she does not bring home three or four friends to stay the night without informing me.
  • I can prevent the dog from getting pregnant.
  • The dog’s grunts are a more intelligent form of communication than those of the teenagers.
  • The dog doesn’t borrow my clothes without asking and then lend them to her friends.
  • The dog doesn’t make me feel like a raided cash machine. She gives back.

In essence, I can control the dog and the dog respects those boundaries. The ADHDer thinks that those boundaries suck and retaliates against them daily, grinding us all into the ground.

I have offered Pet Rescue a vast sum of money to take the ADHDer and am patiently awaiting their response.

Ten Things You Should Never Tell Your Kids (Revised)

Woman’s Day have set the cat among the pigeons with their insightful comments regarding how we should be talking to our kids. I’m a huge advocate of ingesting the generous source of great parenting advice available on the Internet, especially as a wannabe ‘perfect parent’.

However.

Ten Things You Should Never Tell Your Kids

This is my alternative guide:

  1. Try, Try AgainI Know You Can Try Harder – apparently this subtle form of coaching can be discouraging to your child. LEGIT? Of course you need  to point out the obvious if your child is under-performing and embarassing the family gene pool. How dare they squander their talents! If you don’t have high expectations for your child, how else are they going to impress their peers and the parents of their peers (leading to lots of high-brow, pretentious networking between aforementioned sets of parents without having to organise one single coffee morning)? This is not a criticism, what you’re really saying is, ‘get your ass into gear, buddy’, and in my opinion, sometimes going a bit Victorian is ok. It’s not manipulative to say, ‘you’re a bright kid, so don’t waste your talent and my time.’ Maybe it won’t motivate them, but ignoring the fact that they’re lazy buggers isn’t going to either.
  2. Food MattersAre You Sure You Need That Second Cupcake? I love this example. In today’s arena of political correctness (yawn), it’s frowned upon to draw attention to the extra kilos your kids shouldn’t be carrying because Macdonalds is cheap and easy. I’ve read all that perfect-parenting advice, and the concern regarding body image issues relating to adolescent girls in particular. Apparently, commenting on their weight or diet issues is worse than mentioning the colour of someone’s skin these days . But if your child is getting picked on for being a bit ‘porky’, surely they need to be educated? I remember talking to my daughter in pc euphemisms about the need to get ‘fitter’ and ‘choosing healthier options’ when she started getting a bit pudgy around the middle, and she’s thanked me ever since.
  3. Absolutely WrongYou ‘always’ or you ‘never’ – this is one of my cardinal sins in parenting. I must use this expression a minimum of 30 times a day. ‘Why do you ‘always’ have to leave the milk out?’, ‘why can you ‘never’ tell me the truth?’, ‘why do you ‘always’ side with the kids?’, ( said to the old man). For some reason it makes me feel infinitely better to vocalize my frustration with that little exaggerated emphasis so that the family really knows just how awful they can be. I probably am really (and inadvertently) alluding to my inadequacies as a parent/wife and the frustrations therein, because I can’t get the little horrors to remember anything I tell them; but it’s bloody frustrating when they ‘always’ make the same mistakes.  ‘Can you ‘never’ flush the toilet?’ is my most common whine; agreed, it doesn’t change diddlysquat but it makes me feel better. If I suggested to the kids, ‘why don’t we work on this together?’ when they forget to flush the toilet, they’d be completely grossed out. Maybe the right approach would be to make them clean the toilet?
  4. Beyond ReasonBecause I said so! Love it, love it, love it! This form of solid, in-depth reasoning was how my own mother raised me and why I respected her authority. I accepted it without question (probably to avoid corporal punishment, which was standard practice then). This comment did not censure my ability to think or figure things out for myself; she made the decisions and took the responsibility, and if I questioned her logic, she could smack. We were the mute generation, seen and not heard.  If she ‘said so’, who was I to challenge it? In an ideal world, it would be great to have the time to give a full explanation every time your child asked ‘why’ in domestic combat or when you have to say ‘no’ for the twentieth time of the day, but few of us are paragons of virtue.
  5. Told You SoI told you waiting until the last minute was a mistake. Well you did tell them, didn’t you? And you can’t be fairer than that. They were lucky to get a warning. It’s a well-known fact that procrastination nearly always has consequences and it’s a lesson better learned early and before they hit the workplace.
  6. Such Great HeightsYou’re the best at soccer! A few years ago we were supposed to shower our kids with praise (no matter how inadequate they were) to avoid self-esteem issues. These days it’s wrong to big up your child’s strengths in case it sets them up for a fall later. WTF! Fully supportive parents celebrate the achievements of their children and begrudge the achievements of other children – fact. Apparently, building impossible mountains for them to climb can create anxiety. Diddums’! It’s a tough world out there with fierce competition, and that’s without considering the implications of  ‘survival of the fittest’ (think Hunger Games). Shouldn’t we be building them up? Did Richard Branson and Steve Jobs succeed through ‘trying their best’?
  7. Smooth OverDon’t worry, the first day at school will be fine. You’re not supposed to lie to your kids at all, you have to now say it how it is; even the ‘little white’ versions to protect them, can be interpreted as massaging the truth, thereby being disrespectful of their opinions. If something is going to be truly ‘wetting-their-pants’ awful, they need to know, to prepare. By manipulating the truth, you are dismissing the value of their feelings! You need to ‘discuss’ their worries, hug it out, and then feed them to the lions.
  8. Pal AroundI wish you didn’t hang around with Jack. I actually partly agree with this one because in my experience, the more you demonize those revolting friends, the more your kids canonize them. I used to watch a bi-lingual friend of mine welcome new kids to her house, and then in Spanish say to her kids, ‘what have you bought this little shit home for’? Our social skills develop from spending time with different people, good and bad. The old man’s mother used to say to him, ‘Get rid of her,’ all the time, but I’m still here, bitch.
  9. Don’t DIYThat’s not how you do it, here let me. I once took pity on the kids who wanted to be involved with Christmas so I invited them to help me dress the Christmas Tree, thinking I could trust their creative judgement. The tree ended up looking like Santa had reversed over the tree with his sleigh, several times. They’d even hung those terrible school-made decorations on it, and I had to organise colour blindness tests for both of them not long after. It was an assault on the senses in all the worst ways. The following year I bought a separate Christmas tree for the playroom and one for each of their bedrooms.
  10. Spare the CompareWhy can’t you be more like your brother/sister? This is done in the belief that the child who is being criticized might begin to develop the desired qualities of the other sibling, and sometimes it works. What’s wrong with sibling rivalry? It’s why ‘only’ children are so self-centred and can’t share. Being the eldest I was obviously intellectually superior, (apparently the eldest gets the higher IQ, height and parental care), nevertheless, being compared to perfection instilled the ‘survival’ instinct in my siblings, the desire to succeed, for no other reason than to knock me off my perch. Labeling can be negative but if the comparison is balanced between siblings,  I don’t really see a problem.

Some of my ‘gems’ that you might consider employing to achieve that goal of ‘perfect parent’:

‘You know you’ll get biscuit cancer if you eat that many biscuits?’

‘One day you’ll know what it’s like to have children like you’.

‘Sometimes I really wonder where you came from.’

‘I think it’s time to call the adoption agency’.

‘Do you want to be the fattest boy in Sydney?’

NO CHILDREN WERE HARMED IN THE EXPERIMENTATION TO DEVISE THESE EXPERT TIPS.

Naughty Kids Faces by Simply Cupcake – Photo courtesy of http://www.flickr.com