Posts Tagged ‘ parental guidance ’

The Pacifier Is Creating A Terror

Monday, June 16th, 2014

Any parent who has an addict for a child knows the pacifier is like crack. With Fia the crack was also my crutch. It could silence her in crucial moments–like on a 5-hour airplane where no one wants to sit next to a wailing baby. Or occasionally at a restaurant if she was cranky. We didn’t make her get rid of it until she was 3. But she was a rule-follower and knew the only time she could use it was naptime or bedtime, unless I specified otherwise.

Until recently Emmett followed the same protocol. But I could tell he was more attached, or maybe just not as much of a rule follower as Fia. He started to periodically sneak into his room and grab it from the crib and go racing down the hall, looking behind him to see how fast we were on his heels. He laughed and treated it like a game. But the minute we would take it away, he would start to wail. Then hit and throw things.

Then he got a bad cold and I basically let him have it all the time, thinking it was soothing him. Little did I know it was turning him into a beast. When he got better and we went back to the old routine, he would constantly ask for it or try to sneak into his room to get it. When we wouldn’t give in, he began to throw anything he could get his hands on–trains, his sippy cup, a fork, you name it. His pacifier was creating a monster. Still, I was scared to give it up. Looking back, I was just as addicted as he was.

Last week we went on a family vacation to Colorado (crying picture while making a snow-ant). We took the paci on the plane and he was great. But once again, as soon as we landed, he began wailing for it. Every hike we went on or family adventure, he was begging for it, eventually crying and screaming. I know realize this is the point as a parent where you give in all the time because you think it will make your life saner–or, you decide to take charge and set boundaries. We literally watched our funny, sweet boy become a complete terror over the paci. We gave in, thinking it would make it easier. But instead, I think it just made him more headstrong. He became bratty–verging on a nightmare child who was constantly tantruming.

As soon as we landed back home, we put on the Sesame Street episode, Bye Bye Binky. We also cued up the song on YouTube and he watched it over and over. Then we explained that in 3 days we were sending the paci to TT (his grandma) so she could give it to another baby. That’s the same thing we did with Fia. This week, on day 3, we will have him help us wrap it up and take it to the post office to bid farewell. Leading up to day 3, we have only let him have it in his crib.

Just putting up these parameters has already made a huge difference in his personality.  Literally in 36 hours I already feel–and can see–we are getting our boy back. It’s also been incredibly eye opening to realize what a difference it makes when you take back control and set boundaries for your kids. He doesn’t want to be fussy, but a 2 1/2-year old has no impulse control or emotional range to understand how to regulate his moods. The only person who can really regulate them is you: the parent. Basically everything I’ve read about this in regard to 2-year behavior is true: they want, and more importantly, NEED boundaries. Leaving them unregulated or with false threats not only makes your life incredibly difficult and frustrating, but theirs too.

Tomorrow we will happily say bye bye binky and at least until the next curve ball is thrown, have our good boy back.

 

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“Renewing” My Parenting Vows for Father’s Day

Wednesday, June 11th, 2014

Joe DeProspero has two sons, a wife, and is complimentary birth control for anyone who sits near him in a restaurant. His writing has been described as “outrageous,” “painfully real,” and “downright humiliating.” Author of the dark comedy fiction novel “The Boy in the Wrinkled Shirt,” Joe is writing a parenting humor book. He currently lives in New Jersey and can be found on Facebook or followed on Twitter @JoeDeProspero.

 

When I was a kid, my aunt and uncle re-married. I was about 11, and the event mystified me. Did they forget they were already married, I wondered to myself. During the very brief ceremony, my uncle’s voice noticeably cracked, his face quivering. He started to lose it as the words, “all the days of my life” escaped him. As a 34-year-old married man, I now understand the weight and importance of those words. You’re giving yourself, body and soul, to another human being. And it’s overwhelming…and even pretty scary.

I mean, it’s a monstrous commitment (to those who take the vows seriously). While I’m not a big fan of pomp and pageantry and “ceremonies,” I find it necessary at certain points in life to “make it official.” Getting married is most definitely one of those times. Another is having a child. But when you become pregnant or become a parent, no one makes you stand in front of everyone you know to state your intentions and pledge your devotion, do they? Not usually. Considering parenthood is irreversible in a way that marriage is not, I would think that officially committing to this new lifestyle would make a lot of sense. So with my first five years of parenting in the books, and with Father’s Day imminent, I wanted to take a stab at writing my very own “parenting vows” as a means of reminding myself of the unsaid (and unwritten) contract I signed in 2009, when my life was forever changed.

I vow, first and foremost, to act as a guardian for my children. This includes protection from: strangers, injury, bad influences, dangerous surroundings, and terrible, meritless television shows. However, I’m aware that, no matter how hard I try, at least one of my children will develop an affinity for atrociously embarrassing programming comparable to “I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant.” And yes, they’ll even get hurt. Many times. And when they do, I will be there to heal them, explain how to potentially avoid pain in the future, or both.

I understand and accept that my social life will never, ever be the same as it was before I had kids. Every double date, happy hour, or even phone call with a friend will be booked largely around the whereabouts of my offspring. But it will typically make the socialization I do have that much sweeter.

I must accept that my children will make decisions I do not agree with. When they do, I will need to decide whether to step in or stay out of it, and even consider the possibility that I, myself, could be wrong. This will only get harder as they get older.

No matter how utterly exhausted I am when I get home from work, I promise to do any and all of the following, should my children request it:

Impromptu pony rides around the living room on all fours

Talk into a toy phone like it’s real

Read anywhere between eight and fifteen books at bedtime (doing ALL the voices)

Allow my back to be used as a trampoline

Allow my groin to be used as a catcher’s mitt

Tolerate a bedtime process that takes upwards of 90 minutes and involves at least three wardrobe changes

Play hide and seek, despite the absurdity of my son telling me where he plans to hide

Ignore all personal needs, including hunger, thirst, body pain

*This list will triple with each subsequent child

Parenthood will be (and is) the most unnerving, frustrating, depressing, maddening, exhilarating and joyous experience available to us on this earth. I know that there will be days when I’m broken down and listless, where the demands of my family and career push me to the brink of sanity, where I’ll feel like running away. But it is my solemn vow and my unyielding commitment to be irreplaceably active in the lives of my children. I will never relent in my goal to give them the happiest childhood imaginable, and I will welcome the peace of their heads on my shoulder as well as the hell of their adolescent (or toddler) attitude problems.

This is my vow. A vow I never intend to break.

Happy Father’s Day to my fellow dads out there making life that much better for your kids, especially to my own dad, who has not only been a terrific guardian, but who as an adult, I can call a friend.

Add a comment below to join the conversation or tweet me for more.

 

Episode 2 of my web series, Parental Guidance:

 

* Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.com

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Five Ways to Avoid Losing Yourself in Parenthood

Tuesday, June 10th, 2014

Joe DeProspero has two sons, a wife, and is complimentary birth control for anyone who sits near him in a restaurant. His writing has been described as “outrageous,” “painfully real,” and “downright humiliating.” Author of the dark comedy fiction novel “The Boy in the Wrinkled Shirt,” Joe is writing a parenting humor book. He currently lives in New Jersey and can be found on Facebook or followed on Twitter @JoeDeProspero.

I could easily fill one of those office flip charts with a laundry list of the challenges of becoming a parent. In fact, I’d likely take up both sides of the paper. Potty training, bedtime routines, schooling, discipline, the list goes on and on and on. It would be nearly impossible to pick one specific challenge that trumps the rest, because frankly, they all seem equally laborious. But for me, there is one hurdle to clear that supersedes them all.

The biggest challenge of being a parent, as I see it, is not forgetting who you were before you became one.

Put another way, this means don’t let the enormous lifestyle change of raising a child alter the very essence of who you are. Easier said than done, I know, but I do believe there are ways. And this is not to say we must remain mirror images of ourselves. Some element of change is inevitable. But for me, there is nothing sadder than seeing a person change who they are at their core because parenthood rendered them unrecognizable.

With that in mind, here are a few ways to stay true to yourself, despite the chaos that parenting brings upon you.

  • Never, ever give up on your goals and dreams

I long to one day become a successful author and screenwriter. Having children to raise has given me plenty of excuses to toss those dreams in the garbage. But, ultimately, I’m passionate about those dreams (otherwise, they wouldn’t be dreams). And I’m not completely happy if I’m not at least pursuing them. Therefore, I’ll do whatever it takes to keep them moving forward. No matter how exhausted I am.

  • Drop the crazy, save the fun

It’s natural to tone down your social life (even dramatically) once you’re a parent. But what bugs me is when I see a complete transformation from party animal to complete social wallflower. While the responsibilities of parenthood often prohibit that fourth or fifth drink at the bar, it doesn’t mean you’ve become a nun, either. Watch a racy movie, play (consensual) strip poker, go to a punk rock show. You’re a parent, you’re not dead.

  • Remember your friends (and family)

Communication. Communication. Communication. It’s oh so essential to just about every facet of your life—and with a smart phone, it’s more convenient than ever. But particularly with maintaining friendships. While it’s certainly more challenging to find time to hang with your friends (especially when you both have kids), at the very least, call them once in a while, drop a text and say, “How the hell are ya?” You’d be surprised how quickly a friendship can disintegrate when those little things stop happening. If making to-do lists helps you, put “Call Amanda” on there. And, ya know, actually call her.

  • Keep a hobby, not a habit

Do you play piano, coach intramural soccer, write a fantasy baseball blog? Whatever it is, make time for it. You’ll find yourself with a whole boatload of regret if you don’t. More often than not, there are people in your life who will support you in making it happen.

  • Be selfish once in a while

Put another way, don’t forget about your own needs. It means putting on Nick Jr. so you can read the newspaper or scheduling that girls night or guys night you’ve been meaning to plan. Naturally, this is a game of balance with your significant other (assuming you have one), but if no attention is paid to the needs of the individuals raising those children, they are going to have very, very unhappy, resentful parents. That’s not the recipe for a happy household, as far as I’m concerned.

 

We all know someone who had kids and disappeared from our lives. We all know someone who became a parent and lost their passions. Don’t be that person. And if you feel like you’re starting to become that person, take a minute to write a to-do list specifically about enhancing your personal life. And set deadlines for each item. Ultimately, those things will be just as vital to your overall success in life as paying your bills and buying diapers.

Thanks for reading, and feel free to join the conversation by adding a comment below or tweeting me.

And, feel free to check out the latest edition of my web series, Parental Guidance.

 

*Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.com

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Confession: I Think I’m a Helicopter Dad

Saturday, May 31st, 2014

Joe DeProspero has two sons, a wife, and is complimentary birth control for anyone who sits near him in a restaurant. His writing has been described as “outrageous,” “painfully real,” and “downright humiliating.” Author of the dark comedy fiction novel “The Boy in the Wrinkled Shirt,” Joe is writing a parenting humor book. He currently lives in New Jersey and can be found on Facebook or followed on Twitter @JoeDeProspero.

I am a hardcore Breaking Bad aficionado. As in, I still haven’t gotten into a new show since its finale because it’s ruined me from almost all forms of entertainment. But aside from the dramatic enjoyment I derived from it, I also took away a quote or two. One of them that struck me was uttered by morally conflicted character, Jesse Pinkman. Having gone through rehab (and committing various crimes along the way), Jesse says, as if achieving epiphany, “It’s all about accepting who you really are. I accept who I am. I’m the bad guy.” As a parent, I think it’s important to recognize what type of caregiver we genuinely are as well. Just without all the meth cooking. Sometimes, very often in fact, I find myself playing the part of “bad guy.”

I’m a neurotic, helicopter parent (most of the time). I can’t help it; it’s who I am. And I simply cannot deny the very fabric of my being. But there are times when I’ll sort of view myself from the lens of an outsider. And, I have to say, sometimes I look like a complete a**hole.

This past Memorial Day weekend, my wife had gone food shopping, so I took both our sons out in the backyard to play with their new sprinkler under the glorious sun-filled sky. What I realized very astutely is that the farther my wife is from me when I’m monitoring my children, the more neurotic I become. When my wife’s present, we each seem to take a job, one of us playing the role of “cool parent” while the other runs around picking up crumbs and doling out discipline. When it’s just me and the boys, I become the helicopter parent I always assumed I wouldn’t be.

As my five-year-old, Antonio, gleefully picked up said sprinkler and pointed it directly at me and my younger (and drier) son, my eyes widened. Is there anything here that ice water would negatively impact? Yes! Nate’s Woody doll (since he wouldn’t dry before bedtime), Nate himself (who was in a bad mood) and paper instructions on how to use the sprinkler. And also, me! So, being the neurotic person I am, I instantly turned the hose off and shouted a bunch of incoherent jibberish.

“It’s only water,” I heard a voice whisper inside my head. “What actual damage would it cause, if any? And why the hell are you freaking out about instructions on how to use a f***ing sprinkler?” Whoever’s in my head can get pretty foul-mouthed and chatty, I tell ya. But that didn’t stop me from pulling the plug on the impromptu shower. And then again 30 seconds later when my son turned the hose on once more, against my will. I had to follow through. I simply had to. Antonio needed to understand that listening to me wasn’t just one option, it was the only option. And also, I don’t like getting wet unless it’s on my terms. But mostly, because I made a decision and felt it imperative to stick to it if I expected my kid to listen to me in the future. That’s what I’ve found hardest as a parent- to stick to a decision no matter how silly it feels like it is while you’re making it.

As extreme an example as this is, it’s part of a much larger picture of me as a dad (and many of us, I’d assume). While I certainly goof around with my sons when time permits, I’m a guardian, first and foremost. That means that I’m not only responsible for protecting my children from the dangers of the outside world, but I’m also responsible for guarding the outside world against my children! That starts with getting them to adhere to boundaries. Sometimes I go overboard, I admit. But in the end, I feel that a vigilant mindset will minimize the chance of disaster and maximize the potential of my children to ultimately become safe, mindful adults.

Plenty of you will view me as uptight, excessive, overprotective even. And you may be right. But I find solace in that the qualities that make me go overboard come from the same place that makes me a strong guardian for my kids.

Any of you out there like me? The complete opposite of me? Either way, I’d love to hear from you in the comments section below.

And if you have three minutes to watch me impersonating my sons, while wearing a ladies tee, click below for the latest edition of my web series, Parental Guidance!

 

And, if you enjoyed the video, watch the outtakes!

 

 

*Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.com

 

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The Seven Daily “Feels” of Parenting

Monday, March 31st, 2014

Joe DeProspero has two sons, a wife, and is complimentary birth control for anyone who sits near him in a restaurant. His writing has been described as “outrageous,” “painfully real,” and “downright humiliating.” Author of the dark comedy fiction novel “The Boy in the Wrinkled Shirt,” Joe is working on releasing a parenting humor book. He currently lives in New Jersey and can be found on Facebook or followed on Twitter @JoeDeProspero.

People often ask me why I’m so moody. They sometimes automatically attribute it to cancer being my zodiac sign. “All you cancers are so crabby,” they’ll say. But I wish these assumptive people could spend one full day with me, from sunrise to sunset and beyond. I think it would be abundantly clear that my mood swings have far less to do with the path of the sun and far more to do with the path of the son. Let’s break it down.

The way I see it, every single day is an emotional rollercoaster for us parents. And I’m not talking broadly. I’m not saying some days you’re happy about it and some days you’re miserable. I’m saying that we’re all of these things. Every. Single. Day.

It all starts in the morning, of course. Your eyes peel open, and instantly you get your first “feel” of the day: gratefulness. Grateful you’re still alive and grateful you have a child (or more than one child) to care for. You’re almost certainly some kind of tired, but you are alive and not committed to an asylum. Considering the hell parenting can put you through, this is a marked achievement.

But it doesn’t last very long, does it, the gratefulness? In less than five minutes, your children are both awake. Despite your best efforts, they’re grown completely intolerable. One is refusing to eat, while the other is trying to eat an entire sleeve of chocolate chip cookies for breakfast. Suddenly, the second feel overcomes you: anger. Before you know it, you’re shouting at them. All you can think of is the look on the face of the school principal as you usher the kids in 15 minutes late, or your boss as you try to tip-toe past her cube at 9:30. It’s hard to believe less than 10 minutes earlier, you were internally beaming about how angelic they were.

As you reluctantly scamper to the front door of your child’s school, a chill comes over you as you can’t help but be reminded of the atrocities that have happened in our nation’s schools over the past few years. Your stomach turns as you leave your precious children in their respective classrooms. You’ve given up control. And you’re feeling fear. For me, this has been the most difficult of the feels to overcome. I likely speak for most parents when I say that, accepting that I can’t always protect my child has potentially been my biggest parental obstacle.

I will obviously never fully understand the sorrow of walking away from my child for the first time after a maternity leave. But I will say that I feel sadness when leaving my children. Every day. Any parent would understand, but when you’re not with them, you feel like you’re missing a part of yourself. It’s like you’ve cut off a body part and left it home while you’ve gone to work. I often sit at my desk, wondering what my boys are doing at exactly that moment. And it’s right around that time when their school emails out a series of photos of them reading a new book, or learning about a musical instrument. I send my kids to Apple Montessori. Yes, it costs more than I’d like and yes, they absolutely love it there. By default, so do I. And it’s in that moment when I start feeling an enormous sense of pride. I see my kids being social far earlier than I ever was a child. I see them expressing a willingness to learn, again, far earlier than I ever did as a child. It almost makes me forget that I was sad to leave them there that same day….or the cost of their tuition bill.

So, you’re feeling awesome again about this whole parenting thing, when you arrive home from work, arms stretched out wide for a hug. Yet, you’re met with indifference. Your child is currently fixated on the plastic covering of a DVD case, and nothing else matters. He callously mutters a dismissive remark, asking you to leave them alone. You’re back to sad again, with an anger kicker. And during dinner, the feels come in full force. You’re proud they’re eating broccoli, you’re angry when they jump out of their chairs and spill their drinks, and you’re certainly grateful that the day is almost over and you’ve made it through the “feels gauntlet.”

Later that night, after the teeth have been brushed and the stories have been read, you’ll tuck them into their cribs or beds. Maybe you’ll even climb in next to them, assuming they’re in at least a toddler bed. Then, that hug that eluded you earlier catches you completely off guard. Your child’s face shoved into your neck and their hand resting peacefully on your chest, something new comes over you: serenity. In that moment, no stress nor worry can steal your high, as you are officially convinced you’re doing a stellar job at being a parent. And you probably are.

As you cautiously close the bedroom door behind you, a Batman sticker still stuck to your cheek, knee sore from when you rammed it into the sofa leg while wrestling, the final feel of the day hits you. Despite every struggle (some seeming insurmountable), you rest assured that you’re persevering and raising one hell of a kid. Defiantly standing strong against the anger and sadness, you’re left with an undeniable feeling of joy. And that’s ultimately what drives me to be the best version of myself every day – to reach the final “feel” as my head hits the pillow.

Cheers to all you parents out there, whether you related to this piece or not.

Check out the debut of my new video blog titled “Parental Guidance” when you get a chance! In this edition, I take questions submitted to me via iPhone and answer them on video. Come on, everyone, see if my face matches my writing!

Feel free to add a comment below and add your very own “daily feels.”

 Is your parenting style more attachment or positive? Take our quiz and find out.

* “Question Mark” photo courtesy of Shutterstock.com

Mom Confessions: If I Could Spend a Day Without My Kids I Would¿
Mom Confessions: If I Could Spend a Day Without My Kids I Would¿
Mom Confessions: If I Could Spend a Day Without My Kids I Would¿

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