Afternoon InquisitionParenting

AI: Imma never drive a minivan!

I remember when I didn’t have a kid. I knew everything about parenting. I knew what was bad. I knew what was good. I knew what everyone should do and how everyone should behave and how to solve every child-related issue.

I was never going to park my kid in front of the TV. I was never going to let my kid throw a fit in public. I was going to breastfeed for 2 years. My kid would behave in a restaurant and never pick his nose in public. And he will never eat junk food.

Now, here I am with a 2 year old and another on the way… and holy crap! I was wrong about everything. Seriously. Everything.

He wants to watch TV while I write this post? Fine. And after? Fine. And if he wants to throw a fit in public, guess what? That’s his problem to deal with. And breastfeeding only lasted until he realized that biting was the perfect way to signal “I’m done eating.” He’s learned that restaurants are places where everyone loves him and wishes to be entertained by him (so we can only go to the one where everyone does love him and wishes to be entertained by him… and fortunately, there is one). And right now, he’s eating a sandwich with Nutella… because I want him to eat something.

What was your naive pre-parenting misconception? If you don’t have kids, hypothetically speaking, what are the things you are sure are on your “perfect parenting list” that you can’t figure out why no parents do?

The Afternoon Inquisition (or AI) is a question posed to you, the Skepchick community. Look for it to appear daily at 3pm ET.


Elyse MoFo Anders is the bad ass behind forming the Women Thinking, inc and the superhero who launched the Hug Me! I'm Vaccinated campaign as well as podcaster emeritus, writer, slacktivist extraordinaire, cancer survivor and sometimes runs marathons for charity. You probably think she's awesome so you follow her on twitter.

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  1. My “perfect parenting list” includes a single entry:

    “Don’t let Sam be a parent. Ever.”

    I don’t have pets because I forget them, and they always die. I can’t even keep my plants from shriveling up, and they’re plastic.

    I know it doesn’t stop a lot of people, but I am too incompetent to be in charge of another life.

  2. Haha, I think you just nailed it! I am so guilty of sneering at parents with kids throwing a tantrum in the store because they can’t have a book or can’t leave the store right NOW! Waaaahhh! Fists flying, tears flowing, oblivious to the people staring and whispering as you try hopelessly to calm them down with promises of ice cream later if they’re good.

    Yep. Now that I have my own, who is almost four, I learned that sometimes, they are just cranky and tired or hungry and that’s how they vent. You really have to pick your battles. Sometimes it’s better to just let them eat peanut butter and fluff sandwiches in front of the TV, especially when you have blogs to write and laundry to do.

    It’s when you let TV become the parent and junk food their main diet that it becomes a problem.

  3. @Sam Ogden: Sam, I love that your admitted incompetence as a caregiver actually goes stop you from becoming one. I think it’s admirable. Too many people figure “eh, I don’t know how to keep a goldfish alive but SURELY a baby will change my ways,” and a lot of them are wrong.

    I guess I’m about to find out what all I’m wrong about. I like to think that I’m friends with enough moms that I have an idea of how I’ll be as a mom myself, but really it just seems presumptuous until Spencer is actually here and I’m doing it.

  4. @Chelsea:

    Rule 1: As soon as you have a problem with your kid, each one of your friends has a different sure fire way to solve the problem… none of which will work on your kid, and they will all be offended if you don’t try their method and will keep repeating, “I’m telling you. Try ____.”

  5. @Chelsea:

    I’m sure you’ll do fine. You’re no doubt more prepared and able to be a parent than I’ll ever be.

    And if I ever did become a parent, I’d recruit all the bad ass parents I know to help me not screw it up.

    But I’d still be afraid I’d the leave the baby in the car seat sitting on top of the car as I drive out of the mall parking lot.

  6. I thought my daughter would eat everything I ate, because we have the same genes. WRONG. We’ll be lucky if she eats a peanut butter sandwich and a banana. Or cheese in stick format.

  7. Allow me to add a disclaimer, (we never thought we would have so many kids, we finally figured out what was causing it and took measures) WE HAVE 5 KIDZ!

    Each has had their own public way of portraying their emotional requirements.
    #1 jerked our chain anytime he could.
    #2 (our only daughter) is an angel and is the only one in college at the moment (even though 3 are old enough).
    #3 is JOVIAL, nothing messes with his ‘joy of life’ sorry I don’t know French (which he took in school) so can not say ‘shwa de vivre’… sorry.
    #4 is like his mother (a SAINT she is), he internalizes everything and we have to pull emotions out of him like difficult teeth.
    #5 seems to be the most balanced, and is the one I took an early interest in, we do Odyssey of the mind, he loves science, we build things and discover. I wish I had been as involved with the rest of them, but being a high school drop out ( i know, don’t hate me), I have had to work multiple jobs to support my Wife’s and my love for humping.

    If I had it all to do over again, i would not change anything. We considered terminating the last pregnancy, but I could not bring my self to agree with that. It was not his fault we are horny all the time.

    If it had not been for their mother, my children probably would have gone the way of Sam’s petz.

    I was an only child so did not really know how to deal with kidz, being an introvert geek/nerd and all.

    My better half grew up with 3 other siblings and that seems to have given her an even keel in these matters.

    I thank whatever the circumstances were that allowed this.

    Wow, don’t ever think I have been this verbose, sorry.

  8. Not being a parent I’ll confine myself to things I can’t understand about parents:

    – Why have a TV? If it doesn’t exist then the kid can’t watch it. I’m amazed at the number of parents who decry TV as awful yet shell out $50 a month for cable.

    – Why have junk food in the house? If it doesn’t exist then the kid can’t eat it. Growing up there were two things in the house to eat outside meal times: apples and peanut butter. My mom would say if we weren’t hungry enough to eat one of them then we weren’t all that hungry.

    – I understand that parents like to bring their little angels to restaurants to avoid the warehousing charges, but I’d really prefer they didn’t. The kids themselves usually have a terrible time as does everyone else within tantrum distance. I experienced a woman bringing her three and four year old out for sushi. Everyone within 20 feet of them now know there is nothing that a three and four year old want to eat at a sushi restaurant and we were collectively amazed as anything. The server, bless his soul, gave us a free dessert for sticking it out.

  9. If I were a perfect parent-you scream/throw a tantrum in public, we are turning around and going home till you can behave.

    I wouldn’t try to prevent my kid from doing stuff that would get him hurt-but not killed/mamed. I’ll tell you no, but if you do it, then I’m going to point out I told you not to, and you still did it. Maybe I know what I’m talking about.

    (I personally hate how people come in to walmart looking for things to prevent their kid from doing X, because they might get hurt. I’m thinking, let them do it. They’ll do it once. I can understand things that can be lethal/maming, like playing with sockets, but the kid isn’t going to learn until something beats it into them. Kids are hard-headed.)

  10. I don’t have kids, but I have a lot of experience babysitting. I have only one rule if I ever have kids: I will never spank them. No matter what. Other than that, I realize that I won’t always live up to my own high standards. I’ll admit that when baby-sitting, I have bribed kids with candy to clean up, and let them cheat at board games without correcting them.

  11. I was convinced natural childbirth was for me. My cervix did not get the memo. With my second pregnancy, I decided a vaginal birth after c-section would be the way to go. I changed my mind at 29 weeks, and booked the c-section.

    I wanted to breastfeed until the child weaned himself. I encouraged the process at one year by going out of town for three days (to a gay youth conference!)

    I thought I might try to co-sleep, but I can’t even co-sleep with my husband.

    That’s pretty much it.

  12. Things I DID NOT change my mind on:

    I still do not spank.

    I still read to my children every day.

    I did not get my sons circumcised.

    My husband got up with the babies half the time.

    I still have no “mother’s instinct”. I did not expect to get one, and I did not.

  13. @davew: I think the biggest thing with parents and television is just not wanting it to be a constant babysitter. However, when you need to clean the bathroom and the only thing that will occupy a kid (at least to the point of not chasing you around the house) is popping in a movie, the tele is a savior.

    Nutella is on the same level as peanut butter, only perhaps it should be used a little more sparingly than PB. I don’t feel bad eating Nutella toast, and I do eat it on apples. As long as you’re not handing over the jar, that one’s not a huge deal.

  14. I’m pretty sure that kids don’t use litter boxes, right?

    I can feed my cats, groom my cats, play with my cats, and clean their poopy-place by changing the sand. If kids require anything more than that then I’m probably not suited to be a parent.

    Kids like beer right?

  15. @davew:

    Restaurants are for when I don’t have the energy to cook and need to get the hell out of the house. It’s not about warehousing the baby, it’s about warehousing the parents.

    I’m not trading Indian food for McDonalds. Sorry. I eat my own crappy cooking all week, I’m not downgrading for my treat-myself meal.

    With the exception of the one restaurant that Moose is a local celebrity at, we try to only go out an off-peak times.

  16. In seriousness though, I’d probably force my kids to relive my childhood by severely restricting their TV and making sure that they only watched 1940’s films. That way they can relive my parent’s childhoods as well.

    As far as I’m concerned, WWII happened when I was a kid, because every week when we went to the vintage movie theater, they would start with the old newsreels.

    But really, they would get very little TV, and very few electronic toys. They can learn to like those things later if they want.

  17. (Not a parent. Will never be a parent. Am however on a quest to be the World’s Coolest Aunt.)

    Thing I love that my sister does that I don’t see a lot of parents doing and don’t get why not….passing her kids around. She walks into a family gathering or a group of friends and someone else is entertaining her kids (both grownups and other kids) within 30 seconds. But so many of the other parents in my family and friends group hang onto their kids a lot. Even when my nephew was a baby he spent more time in other hands than he did in his parents if at all possible. Not afraid of new people or new situations it’s great. But other kids? Terrified every time someone new shows up.

    The thing about kids I just don’t get? Food. Sure some kids only get junk food, and some only get health food. But kids just seem to have …I don’t know. Weird tastes I guess. Some kids seem to only eat pb&j one day then eat anything you put in front of them the next. Is it a testing limits thing? Is it what they see others eating? Comfort? There has to be a reason one day he’s running around with a piece of grilled asparagus in each hand and sticking his fingers into the potato and garlic and onion packet from the grill and the next he won’t eat a piece of potato right?

    (Most of my kids experience is currently of the 10 and under world as that’s what my friends and family have.)

  18. My husband and I are WAY too selfish to have kids. We thought about it. And then we thought about it some more. The decision was, we liked our lives the way they were more than we wanted change, so, no kids.

    We also don’t have pets because we don’t want to follow a dog around for 10 years and pick up poop.

    We’re really, really selfish people.

  19. @Elyse: Restaurants are for when I don’t have the energy to cook and need to get the hell out of the house. It’s not about warehousing the baby, it’s about warehousing the parents.

    I understand about the need to need to get away, but I assume the reason for not hiring a baby sitter is one of expense. I don’t see many young kids that enjoy the restaurant experience much. At best they just seem really bored.

  20. We’ve been mostly right so far. Our kids saw nearly no TV for the first three to four years and even then it was never a babysitter, they behave themselves in public (though not always in private), and they eat enough variety of healthy food that we have no complaints when they refuse something in particular.

    I have only one explanation for how I did this, my kids are awesome. I can take no credit because as they have shown me I can’t force them if they don’t want to.

    If there is anything I felt I have done that I can take credit for is speaking to them like adults and not being afraid to reason with them. They are smart and they can tell a good argument from a bullshit ‘because I said so’ argument.

  21. @Chelsea: Nutella is on the same level as peanut butter, only perhaps it should be used a little more sparingly than PB.

    I had never heard of this product so I looked it up: sugar and modified palm oil with hazelnut flavoring. This is some seriously nasty shit. Ma Wiley would not approve.

  22. @davew:

    Its true that we can’t afford a babysitter and dinner. But it’s a two fold problem. We also don’t have anyone local to babysit… so to go out to dinner without the kid means driving an hour to my parents’ house, dropping off the kid (so they can take him out to a restaurant) then going out to dinner, picking up the kid and driving an hour home. I know you, Dave. I know would not approve of that plan!

    And I like spending time with my kid… that’s why I have one.

  23. I don’t recall that I had any big misconceptions and if I had it to do again I’d like to think I might do a couple things differently, but in reality I’m sure it would be about the same. Before having kids my wife and I would look around at our friends who had kids we thought were nice and well behaved; we’d ask these parents what worked and what didn’t. Best bit of advice we ever got was to be consistent, don’t make threats and stick to your guns when setting limits and dishing out consequences. Those few things really do eliminate a lot of problems and children really are more secure and happy when they have stable parent defined boundaries.

    And I do not think TV is evil, they have on and off switches, a clean tidy room is not essential, playing and getting dirty is important, reading and telling stories to your children is essential, and talking to kids respectfully as intelligent beings is crucial.

  24. @faith: No more selfish than anyone else in the world. Find anyone who has a pet, or even a child, with a reason for having it that doesn’t boil down to “Because I wanted to”, and you’ll have found someone who is at very least lying to themselves.

  25. @faith: My husband and I are WAY too selfish to have kids.

    I disagree 100%. It is the people who have children are selfish (or careless). These people create a brand new being from scratch to satisfy their own desires. How much more selfish can you get?

    I am not saying this is wrong. I run most of my life on my selfish desires and am not claiming any moral high ground. I just object to the notion that making a baby is an altruistic act. Adopting a child is much closer to altruism in my opinion.

  26. I have this great idea in my head that I will never say “because I said so” when my kid asks “Why” to anything.

    Until my mother pointed out that you can never, ever reason with a two-year-old.

    Whenever I do get around to having kids, she’ll have to save them from over-reasoning mommy.

  27. @davew: Denying them junk might work if you keep your kid in a bubble. At some point, their friends tip them off that prunes aren’t candy and that chocolate tastes better than any “baby tree.” I have NO junk food in my house and all she does is decide to not eat. Toddlers are more stubborn than they are self-preservationists. Since she’s naturally in the 90th percentile on size, there are times when I just want to make sure she packs in some calories SOMEWHERE.

  28. @davew:

    Adoption as an altruistic act is utter BS. Its big business. Anyone who thinks otherwise has either never looked into it or is making a profit.

    The exception is adopting out of foster care… which isn’t necessarily even a good idea for many people. Not everyone has what it takes to raise a child who has been neglected and abused… it’s not like on Diff’rent Strokes where you give them a penthouse in Manhattan and a lot of hugs and everything turns out okay.

    Adoption is a great way to build your family if you have no other choice… it’s the shittiest way ever to do a charitable act.

  29. I think my biggest misconceptions were about time and sleep. It’s astounding how much time it can take to get out the door. Winter is of course even worse.

    @James Fox: Damn straight about making idle threats. A corollary to this would be “Don’t start anything that you’re not willing to do every single day for the next 5 years.” If you get your kid in the habit of getting rocked to sleep to get through a rough patch it’s going to be *real* tough to break that habit, and might be rougher than the rough patch you were trying to get through.

    I was of course ready for some sleep deprivation, but I didn’t realize how debilitating it could be over months and months rather than just during finals week.

    A lot of the things like TV, food, etc I wasn’t real concerned about. I have lots of nieces and nephews and had a good idea about the reality of dealing with little human beings that are highly dependent and also very adventurous and never thought “Oh, we’ll never allow our children to watch TV or eat junk food.” I’m a productive member of society, an adult, and I watch TV sometimes and eat junk food as well. Understanding appropriate levels is what matters.

    I wouldn’t allow my kids to watch TV ten hours a day, but TV is ultimately a tool that can be used to teach and entertain just as books and toys and going for a walk can. Just like adults, kids are humans, they’re just fun-sized. Sometimes they just want to chill out and watch a movie, other times they want to read a book, or color, or put on a play.

    @Elyse: one thing that helps with dining out is to go to a late lunch/early dinner. It’s less crowded so service tends to be quicker and a lot of the older crowd eating at that time love seeing kids. We go out to lunch as a family once a week and have since our first kid was born. Nothing too expensive, Sweet Tomatoes or something of that price range, and so they’ve all become accustomed to being in a restaurant and how to behave. As a consequence we have only once ever had an issue at a restaurant and that was caused by my mother in law.

  30. @Ashley.Ele: The food issue is a challenge if you try to force them. We’ve had our arguments with them and you’re very right about their lack of self-preservation at that age. I’ll send our 6 year old to bed hungry if she’s being problematic about dinner, but the 2 year old needs to eat even if it’s all applesauce all the time.

  31. Nicole, you can reason with some two -year olds. I could always reason with Hollis.

    Max is a whole different story. There is no reasoning with him, ever. You just have to kiss him until he melts, and tell him how cute he is.

    HEY! That sounds like me!

  32. I don’t have kids. But, I have this hypothesis: If you want your kids to learn to speak quickly and learn to speak well, you should speak TO them, in the language you wish them to speak and NOT in baby talk. I can say that my brothers never baby talked their kids and my family has a long non-baby talking tradition. My husbands family are big baby talkers. The niece on my side who was born one day after the nephew on my husbands side starting speaking in coherent sentences about 9 months earlier than the nephew (who couldn’t even pronounce his own name properly when the niece starting speaking in sentences). I realize n=1 is not statistically significant. Anyone else notice that baby talk inhibits language skill development or that speaking properly to children accelerates language skill development? Am I completely naive? Either way, baby talk is annoying to everyone else so I still think parents should knock it off!

  33. @revmatty:

    Moose has been going to the same restaurant almost weekly since he was about 2 weeks old. He’s loved there. The staff love him. The regulars love him. The chef calls himself “Moose’s other daddy”. He’s very well behaved, but he also gets a lot of perks there that he doesn’t get at other restaurants… like when he’s bored, people at other tables know him and don’t mind entertaining him. He gets to help the hostess greet guests, help the waitstaff deliver checks, he’s toured the kitchen with the chef many times.

    And a few times he’s even fallen asleep on the chef’s shoulder on a Saturday night… instead of handing him back to us, he just carries him around until we are ready to leave.

    He’s certainly not bad mannered at other restaurants, but he doesn’t understand that not every place is BaPi. Not every place has his picture on the wall and not every place has a staff that wants to kiss him hello and goodbye. And he has to order from the menu at other restaurants! The horror!

  34. @Elyse: Exactly! I like hanging out with my kids and they even like being with their parents and both are teenagers.

    @revmatty: We were firm believers in putting the kids to bed AWAKE so they could learn how to settle themselves. It worked for us or our kids have good bed time DNA. Both kids slept through the night after about two months. (Your results may vary.)

    And certainly there are times when the kids didn’t sleep well of were sick or teething. My wife and I split night time getting up duties and if we knew there was an issue the parent who was not getting up put ear plugs in and slept. Ear plugs also work for stress reduction when a child is crying due to being sick or teething and is inconsolable. There is no need to have the full volume in your ear while walking around with a distraught infant.

  35. @infinitemonkey: Maybe you’re talking about an older child with the ability to make some informed decisions, but as the father of a very curious toddler (25 months), I just can’t buy this line of thinking. I couldn’t stand there and watch him put his hand on the stove or ride the laundry basket down the stairs just so I could shout over his screams of pain “see? I told you so!” Kids aren’t as thick as you think. Give them some credit. You were one once, and you seem like a sharp guy.

    Until he’s got better impulse control, better language skills and better cause-and-effect association abilities, he needs his mom and me to make his lab* safer to explore and experiment in.

    * – our house, yard, cars, the park, Gradma’s house, half of southern Alberta….

  36. @Amesthe149: We have friends who are baby talkers and both of their children are in grade school. We don’t visit them as often as we use to because of their children’s poor behavior and for fear of vomiting on their carpet when they talk baby talk.

  37. @Elyse: “Adoption is a great way to build your family if you have no other choice… it’s the shittiest way ever to do a charitable act.”

    I’ll agree that adoption out of a sense of charity, or to “rescue” a child is the wrong idea, but adoption is a great way to build your family PERIOD, regardless of the number of choices available to the individual. It doesn’t deserve to be branded as a last resort.

    …and FWIW, my father baby-talks to his cat and it makes me want to barf in in his shoe.

  38. @revmatty: Yoghurt and string cheese. At least she gets her calcium. ;-)

    As a side story, I once had trouble getting her to eat tofu so I combined her willingness to eat chicken with my broccoli (baby trees) tactic and blurted out “it’s baby chicken!” Then the screaming started. Not my finest moment.

  39. I’ve always thought that I’ll let my future kids fall down, skin their knees, break a couple bones(though I’ve still never broken a bone), but I’m sure once it actually happens I’ll be like my mom, super nervous about what we do and make the same screechy shaky noise that she does when she gets scared. Hopefully my kids will be as entertained by me doing it as I was by my mom, though.

  40. One thing I don’t get: yeah, I know parents need to get out and eat out once in a while, but why would you ever order appetizers? Get to the restaurant early, before the rush, and just order an entree. If you have to have appetizers get them to arrive with your food. And once your food gets there, ask for the check. Usually if you get in and out in an hour the kids don’t go into melt-down.

    Also, kids acting out and have tantrums in public? I’m with infinitemonkey: take that kid home ASAP, don’t make the general public suffer your child’s awful behavior. And also, indicate to the kid that their behavior isn’t appropriate, and that’s why you’re taking them home.

    Alot of my “this is how I’m going to parent my children” comes from what MY parents did. I’m gonna make sure I kick the kids out of the house for at least an hour every day (as in, make them go outside and play). Restricted amounts of soda. Very little junk food in the house. Follow through on promises/threats. If the kid learns early that you mean business, they are less likely to challenge you as much in the future. (Certainly worked for me, by 6 I could tell simply from my mom’s tone of voice when it was time to stop pushing)

  41. @Canada Jeff:

    I completely agree. It should not be branded nor stigmatized as a last resort.

    However, it’s extremely important to fully research your options, and if you do go with an international option, you need to be aware of the reality that bringing tens of thousands of dollars per child into a developing country is an invitation for corruption, and understand what that means. In countries like Guatemala, it could mean that you’re getting someone else’s baby… and I don’t mean just that someone else gave birth to this baby, I mean that it could be someone else’s wanted and kidnapped baby.

    But really, if you think you’re saving children from their otherwise doomed lives, corruption aside, you’re being incredibly naive. There’s a reason you get put on a waiting list, and that reason is to wait for available babies. There are not enough babies for families that want them. And if there were a baby crisis where children desperately needed to be taken to other countries, it wouldn’t cost twice as much to adopt twins… you’d get a break for helping twice as much.

  42. I laughed a lot in this thread, so many familiar stories. For me the biggest pre-parenting misconception was that I would be able to pump breastmilk and go back to work after my maternity leave. What a joke! They make it look so easy on TV, all those career women with babies. They give birth, have a few cuddly moments then it’s back to their normal life. I was also under the impression that you could have your kids toilet trained at age 2.

    Another misconception I had was that people would be willing to help out. Not so. They are willing to cuddle the babies and buy cutesy clothes until they are about 1 year old, but after that- you’re on your own. I have not been out alone with my husband since I was pregnant. The only time my oldest son has spent the night away from home, was the day I had his younger brother. Babysitters? What babysitters? There’s no chapter of the babysitter’s club in my town anyway.

    Basically, if you don’t take your kids with you. You don’t go anywhere. And my kids eat sushi, so watch out!

  43. @davew:

    The kids have to learn to behave in public, around adults. There is only one way to do this: go out in public, around adults.

    Taking your kids to Chuck-E-Cheese gives them entirely the wrong impression of how to act in public. If you want to have a gripe, have a gripe with “child friendly” restaurants like that for providing crap training.

    @davew: These people create a brand new being from scratch to satisfy their own desires. How much more selfish can you get?


    Well, let’s see… there’s Bernie Madoff. He ripped off hundreds or thousands of people just to line his pockets. Then there’s the average politician, a person who will cause any amount of pain and destruction in the world to have more personal power. There’s you. There’s televangelists. Rush Limbaugh. People in executive positions who make decisions based on profit and not the greater good. People who own stock and insist that companies make decisions based solely on short term profit and not the sustainability of the companies business model. Tiger Woods. The entire power structure of the catholic church. Everyone who drives a Hummer. Every executive at Goldman Sachs. Al Gore. The executives at Blackwater. The interrogators at Blackwater.

    In fact, I would say that the list of things that I can think of that are more selfish than having and raising children is bounded only by the time I care to spend typing. I’ll agree with you that not having kids probably doesn’t belong on that list. In fact, in your particular case, I would say that not having kids is damn near altruistic.

  44. It is a good thing I am not having kids cause I am sure I would make every mistake in the book.

    However, I do have one thing on my perfect parenting list that many parents seem to be able to achieve but some totally miss and that is teaching your child respect. I get it when kids have tantrums and act out because they are tired, but when kids just like to destroy things because they feel like and the parents don’t care, that is when I become the angry bitch with no kids that dares to tell their “perfect child” what to do. Is it really that hard to teach your child to respect other people and their things?

    Yeah, I get public transport with some families that really should have stopped with the first kid rather than at the sixth cause they lack parenting skills. It really does reinforce the idea that I shouldn’t breed.

  45. On topic… I don’t know. I remember thinking that everything would change, but it didn’t. Not right away. It took a while.

    The only thing I absolutely promised myself, hands down, was to be a better Dad than my father was. Not because he’s a bad guy or even because he was a bad guy when I was a kid, but because he was a better Dad than his father was, and if we keep this up we’ll get it right eventually. So far, I’m doing okay.

    Beyond that, I decided I would never spank, and so far, so good on that. But I’ve been really lucky with the Highlander, he’s a great kid.

  46. @davew: Did I or did I not say it should be used more sparingly? Oh, that’s right – I did. I didn’t say it’s healthy, I said it’s not that bad. Peanut butter contains hydrogenated oil, salt, and dextrose and other sweeteners. While it’s healthier, it’s no angel either.

    And anyway, I didn’t think someone who yells at people who drive would approve of the ingredients on a jarred snack-food product, so no surprise there.

  47. @James Fox: I love natural peanut butter. I have some in my fridge right now for cookie baking purposes.

    Brands like JIF & Peter Pan (the ones most commonly found in kitchen cabinets) are full of the same things he just made me feel like I was a disgusting slob for enjoying sometimes.

  48. @Chelsea: Did I or did I not say it should be used more sparingly? Oh, that’s right – I did. I didn’t say it’s healthy, I said it’s not that bad.

    Sorry if I came on strong, but I was genuinely surprised to see them selling a product that is essentially the filling from an Oreo cookie. Also palm oil tends to provoke strong reactions in the tree-hugging, car-yelling side of me because of the high ecological cost of the stuff. On the other hand it would hard to imagine a worse food than something that is 1/2 fat and 1/2 sugar.

    Peanut butter contains hydrogenated oil, salt, and dextrose and other sweeteners. While it’s healthier, it’s no angel either.

    My peanut butter contains peanuts. There’s a lovely machine at my megamart that grinds it into a container while I wait. Fresh and delicious!

  49. I remember saying that I would NEVER give my daughter fast food, because if she never ate it then she wouldn’t want it.

    Too bad aunty and grandma and everyone else loves to take her to good ol’ Micky D’s though. This made me a bit angry at first – I mean hellooo, I’m the Mom and what I say goes! This just isn’t practical though. At some point, she’s gonna eat a “chicken” nugget with sugary sauce and she’s gonna like it. Kids like stuff like that. As long as she doesn’t live off of it, it’s OK.

    Besides, she loves broccoli so much that I never get any because she steals it off my plate!

    Anyone else have issues with aunties/grandparents or other family members stepping in as some higher power because they know everything about raising kids and you know nothing because you are new at it?

    I remember my SO’s mother kept cutting our daughter’s bangs every time she had her because they were in her face, which she did not approve of. I politely tried to tell her that if she would let them grow out, they would be out of her face.

  50. My peanut butter contains peanuts. There’s a lovely machine at my megamart that grinds it into a container while I wait. Fresh and delicious!

    davew you live in an awesome place. The only thing my local megamart grinds is coffee.

  51. @davew: My peanut butter contains peanuts. There’s a lovely machine at my megamart that grinds it into a container while I wait. Fresh and delicious!


    You. Selfish. Bastard.

    Those peanuts have to be shipped to you. And then you sit there and watch a big, energy guzzling machine grind them up purely for your smug pleasure.

    If you were a real environmentalist, you would grow your own peanuts and grind them by hand. But I guess you don’t care about all the people who have to vacate their ancestral island homes to provide you with Peanut Butter.

  52. Oh yeah… and I totally said “no sleeping in my bed! I need my space! Baby can have his.”

    Turns out, breastfeeding and getting enough sleep is a whole lot easier if you just sleep with your boob out and let the baby sleep where he can find it. Sometimes you just gotta roll with it… it being the punches, not the boob or the baby.

  53. @Miss V:

    By that logic, why stop there? Why not just order everything to go from the car and just pick your stuff up at the bar and you never have to bring the kids into the restaurant at all!

    Going out to eat isn’t meant to be a hurry-up-let’s-rush event. It shouldn’t be more stressful to take your family to a restaurant than to eat at home.

    As for the tantrums? Yeah, I used to feel that way too… but now? When I’m out it’s because I have something to do. I’m not turning around and going home when there’s no food in the house because my kid doesn’t want to go to the grocery store. If he doesn’t want to go, fine. He doesn’t have to want to. He still has to go. He can hate it, and he can deal with it. Teaching my kid that getting angry means getting out of shit he doesn’t want to do isn’t the message I want to send either.

    I’ve never in my life had a shopping trip ruined by someone else’s screaming child.

    “It was such a lovely trip to Kroger… then this mom showed up and her kid started throwing a tantrum in paper products and ruined our romantic afternoon.” Really?

  54. I have no problem with parents bringing their kids to a restaurant. My parents took me to restaurants, and shouldn’t expect less from other parents. Plus I live in the burbs, so kids come with the territory.

    I’m really more bothered by parents who are verbally abusive towards their children or hit them in public. Now that’s wrong.

    Now at a temp job, I did work with a manager on a Saturday who brought her son in. There’s nothing like trying to answer customer’s calls while a manager is arguing with her son.

  55. @skylyre: Too bad aunty and grandma and everyone else loves to take her to good ol’ Micky D’s though. This made me a bit angry at first – I mean hellooo, I’m the Mom and what I say goes! This just isn’t practical though.

    This is very similar to my childhood. My parents were very disciplined about how they raised us, but knew they couldn’t control what our friends and relatives parents did. We were taught, however, that asking for fast food or junk food or extra TV at home would bring an unvarying and decisive answer of “no”. Repeating the question brought on harsher consequences.

    This is one thing my parents nailed was being perfectly consistent in their decisions and always backing each other up. They also never disagreed in our presence, but I do remember a few times where they stepped away for a lively conversation.

  56. Like you, we thought TV would be kept to a minimum (ha!) We weren’t going to perpetuate the belief in Santa Claus (fail) No sugary snacks – just fruits and vegetables (ha!) No spanking (which I see mentioned above ) – sorry, but sometimes a swat on the bottom is warranted.
    Once you actually have the kid, with no instruction manual, everything you thought you knew goes out the window.
    We were very careful about what went into our first child’s mouth… until we dug a dead cricket out of her mouth when she was crawling on the floor. After that, you don’t worry too much – they survive somehow. :)

  57. @Elyse: “It was such a lovely trip to Kroger… then this mom showed up and her kid started throwing a tantrum in paper products and ruined our romantic afternoon.” Really?


    I think to save their sanity parents learn to filter out their kid’s voices. Other people, especially childless ones, don’t necessarily have this filter. I find screaming and yelling by a person of any age rather unsettling and it makes it difficult to shop or do anything else that requires concentration.

  58. @Ssteppe:

    We were very careful about what went into our first child’s mouth… until we dug a dead cricket out of her mouth when she was crawling on the floor.


    I was the same way.

    I actually have a “one piece of dog kibble” rule… because when I tried to stop him from eating it altogether, he just stole more. Now I just let him take one before the dogs have at their bowls, then he’s done. Sometimes you just gotta roll with it… it being the punches, not the kibble or the dog.

  59. @davew:

    Not to sound like a huge bitch, but isn’t that a job that’s easier solved by you investing in earplugs or headphones than expecting everyone in the world to always use their indoor voices and never get upset in public?

    I’m honestly not being condescending. I have to do my shopping, too. I don’t like having a kid screaming in my face… but the pantry isn’t going to stock itself, and I can’t wait until there’s no one in the store. And I certainly can’t survey everyone in the store to make sure they won’t be offended if my toddler gets angry (even if I could, it would only increase the chances that he would, in fact, get really angry).

    But if you are bothered by anyone who is loud or upset, that doesn’t even rule out adults. You can’t even go during off-peak hours when children are unlikely to be at the store.

  60. @davew: I find screaming and yelling by a person of any age rather unsettling and it makes it difficult to shop or do anything else that requires concentration.


    The real problem is that you insist on living in the world. I think the optimal solution here would be for you to move to a Buddhist monastery, so you can both lower your obscene ecological footprintand avoid screaming and yelling.

  61. @skylyre: Anyone else have issues with aunties/grandparents or other family members stepping in as some higher power because they know everything about raising kids and you know nothing because you are new at it?


    Oh, dear god. I can’t even tell you. In my situation it’s worse because my brother–the antichrist–and his spawn live right by the ‘rents. I get treated not only to “you’re doing this wrong” but also “your niece composes symphonies, speaks seven languages, and has a workable solution for world hunger.”

  62. @sethmanapio: Look, eventually you have to move past the easy targets. Challenge yourself. Insult someone else.

    On topic, I’m not a parent, and don’t plan to be anytime soon, but I can see a few things that I’d prefer are already going out the window. For instance, I’d prefer to have a kid who doesn’t use computers much. Unfortunately, if I kept my child away from them, (s)he’d miss out on what’s become an essential life skill.

    On the other hand, whether (s)he likes it or not, the little hypothetical WILL go camping. Occasionally in the backwoods. And learn how to clean a fish. And if I ever grow the patience for hunting, the kid’ll learn how that works, too. Outdoorsmanship was too big a part of my life to not pass on a little.

  63. @Elyse: Not to sound like a huge bitch, but isn’t that a job that’s easier solved by you investing in earplugs or headphones than expecting everyone in the world to always use their indoor voices and never get upset in public?

    It is unreasonable to expect people to never be upset in public. I think it is also unreasonable to have an upset child in your care and do nothing about it. I have seen and heard parents let their child’s tantrum run unimpeded for 30 minutes. I think this is the height of rudeness on the part of the parents. An adult behaving this way would be removed by security or the police.

    Forgive me if I’m putting words in your mouth incorrectly, but you view a screaming child as acceptable at a grocery store, but not acceptable at a restaurant. What is the distinction? Why is it okay for a parent to ignore their child’s misbehavior in one circumstance and not the other? And why should your judgment trump that of everyone affected by your child’s behavior?

    The parents I know handle both the restaurant and the grocery store the same. The child is given a few moments to chill out and failing that is taken outside for whatever duration is necessary.

  64. @davew: I have seen and heard parents let their child’s tantrum run unimpeded for 30 minutes.


    You watch tantrums for 30 minutes in a grocery store? Man. You are just a glutton for punishment. How long does this peanut butter take to grind, anyway?

  65. @davew: Insulting people is always easy. Having an intelligent disagreement is the challenge.

    With you, it’s an insurmountable one. Unless you care to say something intelligent? So far, you’ve basically just complained about how inconsiderate people are of your precious sensitivities, which, while fascinating to me, doesn’t exactly reach the level of intelligent discourse.

    Besides, I wasn’t being insulting when I suggested you move to a monastery. I was being serious: based on your conversation, I think that’s the optimal living situation for you.

    People have kids. They have to train them. That training has to take place in public. If you have a problem with that, you need to move out of the public.

  66. @Elyse: I’m honestly not being condescending.


    Why not? DaveW declared at the top of this thread that your decision to have a child represents the pinnacle of human selfishness. To paraphrase 1, “sometimes, condescension is the appropriate response.”

  67. @davew:

    Maybe you and I live in different worlds, but when I go shopping, especially grocery shopping, but really, any shopping, it’s because I have to. I’m not at Meijer because I wanted to take a leisurely trip to go visit some bananas and fair-trade coffee. I’m there because I need supplies… you know, to feed my family… to live.

    While I certainly don’t encourage my kid to have a tantrum (which seem to be the words you’re putting in my mouth without meaning to), and I’ll do what I can to make it stop, if I can’t make it stop (and you can’t always make them stop), I’m going to buy the rest of my groceries because I need them. I’m sorry if this bothers you during your leisure time at Meijer, but my need to feed my family trumps your peanut grinding hobby and your tomato social call.

    A restaurant, on the other hand, is a place where everyone is at for leisure and relaxation… it’s a pleasure trip. My need to eat saag paneer does not trump your date with your wife, who is probably just glad that for this date you’ve chosen not to take her to the grocery store again.

  68. @davew: The thing you seem to have trouble grasping is that parents still need to accomplish things. While taking the child outside of the grocery store, or even home, may stop the tantrum, it affects their ability to get groceries. The only way to successfully accomplish both is for both parents to be present at every social outing, which isn’t always possible.

    I live in a congested city area. Living on the 3rd floor, I have neighbors above and below as well as to one side and across the hall. Some have children, one has an infant. The sounds that travel the furthest? You might think the infant crying, or the toddler playing. But no. It’s the childless couple fucking in the apartment next to us, the childless couple blasting music at all hours across the hall and the childless couple a few doors down who were just screaming at each other because apparently he’s been talking to other women. I would rather hear a toddler having a tantrum.

    Unless you’re going to live in the woods and grow all of your own food and never go out in public, you’re going to hear a baby cry or a toddler have a fit. You’re also going to hear kids telling their parents that they love them or teaching their little brother or sister something that they just learned. You can’t pick and choose what happens around you in public. Like Elyse said, if it’s that much of a bother that other people exist – buy some headphones.

  69. @davew: You don’t have to be a parent to have that filtering. I had kids relatively late, but I can’t recall any situations prior to that in which a screaming child caused me any undue distress.

    That’s just the way life works. Sometimes kids will do something to annoy you. Sometimes adults will do the same. Sometimes you get stuck in the middle seat in Economy Class between two 400-pound guys. Sometimes a stranger wants to tell you your sob story, and all you can do is listen and nod.

    As I tell my kids, one of the most important things you need to learn in life is how to ignore what other people are doing, and to realize that few unpleasant situations last very long.

  70. @ mulveyr

    As I tell my kids, one of the most important things you need to learn in life is how to ignore what other people are doing, and to realize that few unpleasant situations last very long.

    Halleelooyah to that.

  71. @davew

    The parents I know handle both the restaurant and the grocery store the same. The child is given a few moments to chill out and failing that is taken outside for whatever duration is necessary.

    I see where you are coming from and I agree that some parents just don’t give a hoot about their child’s tantrum – which is doing nothing to help them learn how to behave in public.

    Unfortunately all kids are going to throw a tantrum at some point, they’re testing us so to speak. There is a balance somewhere between ignoring the tantrum and the attention they are trying to get from it, and grabbing them by their pull-ups and popping their butt cheeks til they turn purple all the way to the car.

    It’s not always an easy balance to find, especially when juggling your grocery list, that appointment you’re going to be late for and still being a decent parent.

  72. @Canada Jeff:

    Until he’s got better impulse control…

    This made me think instantly of the big Inuit from Snow Blind with the phrase “NO IMPULSE CONTROL” tattooed on his forehead.

    Baby talk certainly is idiotic, but I’ve got a minor quibble with your statement. Girls tend to have better linguistic skills early on in life than boys do and tend to pick up language faster at those stages of development, so the fact that the niece was speaking properly long before the nephew is really not that surprising. From what I was told, I didn’t start speaking properly until about age 3 or 4, generally speaking not so much in baby talk as in my own invented language before speaking proper sentences. I don’t know if my parents spoke baby talk to me or not (probably not, my parents and other relatives tend to not care for that kind of thing, at least not when it comes to talking to children on an everyday basis, however, I have one aunt who did do that, and yet both of her boys speak fluently) so I can’t make any statements ultimately about what that did to my ability to speak or whether I would have picked up the language sooner, or if it even would have mattered as I understood without issue, I just never bothered to speak it.

    As to how I would raise children if I ever get to a point where I have children (which with the way my life seems to be going is about as likely as Apophis going through the key hole spot when it passes Earth in 2029), I’d probably try and raise them as I was raised. My sister and I turned out relatively well, so yeah, whatever.

  73. Yeah, that whole “just take them home if they start to have a tantrum” thing doesn’t really work if you already have a cartful of groceries with things you need.

    And it gets even trickier when you have more than one. If you’ve taken child one to get ballet slippers for their afternoon class, it’s not really fair to them to just leave because their younger sibling decided to start being noisy, is it?

  74. In regards to the kid throwing a tantrum in public thing. Now, I don’t expect everyone here to have a degree in child and adolescent psychology or anything, but lets talk reinforcement. Your kid throws a tantrum in the grocery store, you get embarrassed because the other people waiting by the peanut butter machine are glaring at you so you give in and buy them the damn sparkly toothbrush or whatever to shut them up. What does that kid learn? That they can throw loud public tantrums and then they can have whatever they want.

    It is pretty obvious that the thing to do when your child throws a tantrum is to ignore them completely and carry on. So when parents are doing that, they are actually trying to reduce that behaviour by not reinforcing it. I hate it when strangers feel they have to interfere, by either trying to soothe the toddler (sometimes offering to buy them the chocolate since mummy won’t) or by yelling at them. They just make the damn thing last longer.

    In conclusion, in most cases parents aren’t ignoring their kid’s screaming just to irritate you. They’re trying to stop it in the long term. I won’t go into a rant about how making parents feel ashamed about taking children out in public is just another way our society devalues the people who do the child rearing, I’ll just think it.

  75. @Chelsea: The thing you seem to have trouble grasping is that parents still need to accomplish things.

    I do understand that there are occasions when it is necessary for parents to schlep their children to the store and children will sometimes behave like children. I think the middle ground is it is incumbent upon me to endure some upset, but I also think it is incumbent on the parents to minimize the effect their children have on strangers. As @skylyre eloquently says there is a balance.

    I’m not saying this solution will work for everyone, but brother and I were not good in public as toddlers… if you can imagine. Saturday morning was daddy-time while we stayed home with him and mom did the shopping solo. I think it was also mom’s time to restore some of her sanity.

    The sounds that travel the furthest? You might think the infant crying, or the toddler playing. But no. It’s the childless couple…

    This is bad behavior as well. I really like a quiet house so much so that unless my wife are doing something together I will always watch TV and listen to music with headphones. I even practice sax (midi) with headphones. To me the world is a quiet place and it is up to each of us to keep it that way. I also understand that this opinion puts me even farther outside the norms of human thinking than my refusal to fly or drive.

  76. @Elyse: A restaurant, on the other hand, is a place where everyone is at for leisure and relaxation… it’s a pleasure trip. My need to eat saag paneer does not trump your date with your wife, who is probably just glad that for this date you’ve chosen not to take her to the grocery store again.

    I like this point about optional versus non-optional events. Good answer.

    To all of you who suggest I do my shopping at unusual hours I agree completely. I try to do most of my shopping on my way to work. On a cold winter morning this means a few minutes of disrobing and rerobing at the store entrance, but it’s still much faster than wading through the after-work crowd. To be truthful kids are usually not the major impediment. Two adults shopping together or one stupendously self-involved person more typically clog up the aisles than children.

  77. @davew: To me the world is a quiet place and it is up to each of us to keep it that way.


    Damn right. The other night, I was trying to code and these FREAKING OWLS kept hooting outside my window. I couldn’t believe how rude they were being. Don’t even get me started on the summer cicadas. They should be exterminated. And frogs in the springtime? Oh god. Eep. Eep. Eep.

    It get it. You’re horny. Freaking get a room already, you little amphibious bastards.

    In all seriousness, though, I believe that people who use leafblowers instead of a rake or broom should be shot. With a tranquilizer gun or a tazer, maybe, but definitely shot.

    We all have our quirks.

  78. I was going to raise my first daughter to be bilingual. Mind you, I only speak English. But I was going to get her tutors and such and she would be bilingual. Didn’t happen. However, when she went to college she decided to study ARABIC, and she stuck with it and now IS bilingual. I still can’t do much but English and some sad French, but she ended up doing what I wanted anyway.

    I wanted her to attend private school. I was able to make that happen, but it was really tough financially. It made a big difference though at times we could barely afford to eat. So that was the one decision I’m glad I stuck with.

    But the whole bilingual thing… forget it!

  79. Don’t let kids become picky eaters. If they’re hungry, they’ll eat it. You don’t see little kids in France complaining that pate and snails are gross, or little kids in India whining about how spicy something is. Letting them get away with eating buttery cheesy pasta all the time creates terrible habits not easily corrected.

    Also, always follow through on punishments. If you say you’re going to punish them if they do X, and they do X, don’t let them get away with it! They catch on to this very quickly and you become a pushover every time you try to put your foot down.

  80. Speaking as someone who’s worked in retail, what always got me was parents who wandered vaguely about without watching their children at all and seemed to expect that both a) the stranger behind the counter would, out of the goodness of her heart, keep an eye on little Dinkums instead of cashing out or doing inventory or whatever, AND THAT b) she would never ever say anything like “Sweetie, please don’t touch that” (for this is stunting Little Dinkums’ creativity, or something – whatever the reason, I have been snarled at for daring to stop toddlers reaching for shiny heavy breakable objects.)

  81. @emma:

    I do agree with you, while at some point you have to give your kid SOMETHING that he’ll eat, you don’t have to give into his cravings at every meal and teach him that someone will make him Mac n Cheez every time he wants it.

    But something tells me you’ve never been to France. I’ve been there enough to know that kids complain about food even when they’re being served delicious French cuisine… including pate and escargot. And though I’ve never been to India, I was once intimately acquainted with an Indian gentleman with a rather traditional Indian family, and the heat tolerance among the family was greatly varied, and the kids didn’t tolerate it at all. Actually, I could eat hotter food than most of them… and I was raised on traditional American fare. I’m sure I have no idea what it’s actually like to eat with children in India, but I’m 100% positive they complain about the food there and that many of them can’t handle food that is spicy.

  82. Been to France several times, but have to admit, I’ve never been to India. My point was just that eating habits are learned, and very much depend on the culture. We live in a culture where children are allowed to be finicky and indulged far too often. I NEVER saw kids in France eating plain pasta with butter, but working as a server in the US, I see it all the time. The parents don’t even let the kids look at the menu, they just ask, “oh, can you make him some pasta with butter?” I always want to cry child abuse on these parents, but it’s not really my place, and that’s probably a bit hyperbolic anyway. The pickier kids are allowed to be, the pickier they will be. It’s best to expose them to new foods and encourage them to try new things. If they had their druthers, they’d take McDonald’s, pizza, and pasta with butter any day over asparagus and grilled salmon. If you take away those options and only leave the good stuff, they will eventually learn to like it, or at least just shut up and eat it if they are truly hungry.

  83. @sethmanapio:
    “I am not saying this is wrong. I run most of my life on my selfish desires and am not claiming any moral high ground. ”
    There’s nothing wrong with being selfish. Remember Adam Smith’s “Invisible Hand?” Being selfish at the expense of others crosses the line.

    @Chelsea: All of the noises listed would cause some minor annoyance for me. Many of these are inconsiderate. Children having tantrums isn’t one of them. It isn’t inherently bad that I get annoyed by such occurrences. The parent should be expected to eventually teach their child to not throw a tantrum but even the most mild-mannered of children need to be taught, through no fault of the parents.

  84. @emma: My parents always made me eat at least a serving spoonful of everything on the dinner table. They did that until I was 16 or so. My tastes on brussel sprouts still haven’t changed, but a lot of other things did. I am very grateful that they made me try so many different things. When I eat out (out being anywhere but my parents house) I’m about as likely to try something that I haven’t seen before as I am to eat an old favorite.

    I hope to pass this on to my children, should I happen to acquire some.

  85. Also, a note to the parents out there: if you’re going to bring your children in to a restaurant and they scream and/or make a huge mess, be a decent human being a leave a 25% tip. Nothing ruins a server’s night like a lousy 15% tip from a party that was disruptive and displayed atrocious table manners.

  86. @glassdirigible: There’s nothing wrong with being selfish. Remember Adam Smith’s “Invisible Hand?” Being selfish at the expense of others crosses the line.


    You miss the point. The hyperbole was that having children was as selfish as you can get. I would agree that I chose to have children because I wanted to have children, and thus was satisfying my desire to have children. Where I disagree is the implication that this is exceptionally selfish, as opposed to, say, driving a $60,000 car that gets 8 miles to the gallon, or stealing several billion dollars in a massive pyramid scheme, or even wanting the entire world to be quiet because you like it that way.

  87. @emma: I NEVER saw kids in France eating plain pasta with butter, but working as a server in the US, I see it all the time.


    Were you working as a server in France as well? Because I never see kids in the US getting plain pasta with butter either, because I’m not bringing them their food. Or maybe the french default is something different that you didn’t recognize as “plain pasta with butter” but that served the same purpose.

    For the record, Highlander eats off the menu when we’re out. Most places have french fries or steamed vegetables or something if he’s being picky. But he gets plain pasta at home if we’re having pasta and that’s what he wants. I got plain rice or pasta at home if I asked when I was a kid (provide that pasta and/or rice was part of the meal), and now I’ll eat pretty much anything.

    Kids go through phases. You could risk a fit (which you hate), or risk having them mess up the table (which you hate) by pushing their food around, or you can feed them something that they’ll eat without grousing.

  88. Nope, never been a server in France. And I’m not claiming to be an authority on what French children eat! I’m sure it doesn’t amount to much, but I did remark once to a server there that I was impressed with what kids would eat, and was told that it was normal for kids to eat the same food that the adults did.

    And somebody else’s kids can have as many fits as they want…at home. I have no problem dealing with kids–they’re some of my favorite people. It’s generally the parents who are harder to stomach. But I feel like this is getting way off topic. My “perfect parenting list” includes not indulging finicky kids. That’s all.

  89. My wife and I agreed that we would become parents under two very specific conditions – 1) We admit to ourselves we know NOTHING, and 2) we voluntarily – and completely – surrendered our personal lives to the children. It has worked out pretty well so far. Basically, we gave up everything, and got it all back and more eventually. It was a good gamble.

  90. heh – I’m childless, and while I don’t pretend to know everything about child-rearing, I’ve spent much time around little ones. Baby sitting, day-care work, my friends’ kids, teaching in classrooms (or at picnics when they found out a person who knew about dinosaurs was there).

    So I know that kids go through phases where all they want is peanut butter and grape jelly on Wonder Bread with the crusts cut off and cut on a diagonal. I know that meltdowns are gonna happen with toddlers – it’s part of the deal of learning how to be a person. And while people espouse the evils of TV, it’s not overly different than popping a kid in a playpen with toys – it’s a way to keep a child contained and entertaining themselves. As long as it’s Sesame Street or something that has an equivalent nod to the parents who have to listen, I can’t freak out about other people’s parenting skills.

    I just ask that parents realize what are kid-friendly venues and what aren’t. Family-friendly restaurants? I’ve been known to play peek-a-boo with the kid in the next booth. But if I go out to an expensive, upscale restaurant at 8pm for a special occasion dinner, then I don’t expect to see toddlers who would actually rather be in bed. (5 pm? No problem. My family brought our nieces and nephews to our favorite special occasion restaurants at opening of the dinner hours so there would be few people and they could learn how to behave, when they were napped, excited, and eating at their normal time.)

  91. A few more thoughts on snacks: Raisins, dried apricots, really any dried fruits. My kids LOVE them, and really any fruits. We stock up on whatever is in season every week and they’ll have fruit and toast for breakfast, fruit for snacks, and so will I! Veggies are a tougher sell and the only luck I’ve had in making them a snack is with the Sweets and Beets or Veggie Chips from Whole Foods. Sugar-free lollipops are good as well. My wife has taken to baking cakes and brownies using zucchini for body and stevia for sweetness. Makes a great little snack/treat for the kids and is relatively healthy as well. I’m pretty sure it’s the only way she’ll ever get them (or me) to eat zucchini.

    Animal crackers are surprisingly low in calories, sugar, and fat (relative to other cookies, of course). We also rely heavily on Pocky from the local asian market.

    Here’s one that always entertains me: we sometimes go to a restaurant that heavily features “Kids Eat Free” in all their promos and on a huge sign out front and invariably there are people there who are annoyed that someone actually *brought kids* to eat there. I am familiar with the ‘kids are annoying and I don’t want to ever have to be reminded that they exist’ mindset, but if you feel that way you should at least make the minimal effort of maybe not going to a place that aggressively markets to people with children.

  92. @emma: Yes yes yes! I think it’s crap to take your kids out to eat and not give a larger than normal tip. They’re more work for the waitstaff (particularly if kids eat free and so the extra effort isn’t reflected in a larger bill). We tip 25% as the base when we take the kids out. Our kids never act up so I never feel like I have to tip extra to make up for it, but if the server goes out of their way to take care of us I’ll bump it up anyway.

  93. Regarding getting kids to eat a healthy diet/picky eaters thing:

    An interesting study here about how everyone’s tastebuds are different and some people are just more apt to eat sugary, fatty foods simply because healthier foods don’t taste as good. It has to do with our number of tastebuds and which flavors are picked up/enjoyed (just read it, I’m a horrible summarizer :)

    Sounds kind of silly but it makes sense. I was actually looking for another study very similar to that one which showed that people gained more nutrients from food they enjoyed vs. food they didn’t enjoy. Not that that is an excuse to feed your kid mac n cheez all the time – they still need to learn what they like and don’t like and develop a taste for all kinds of food.

  94. I don’t have children and don’t particularly want them.

    But you know what doesn’t bother me? Children being children. I don’t get upset if a kid has a crying fit in Safeway. In fact, I feel badly for the parent, because I know there are assholes like davew judging them for not being perfect parents with perfect children. People like davew don’t think, “Kids sometimes freak out for no discernable reason, and their parents still need milk and bread. It must suck to have to deal with a cranky child in the grocery store. Poor parents.” No, assholes like davew think, “What horrible parenting skills! Why are they at the grocery store?! They shouldn’t leave the house if their child isn’t a perfect angel all the time!!! Oh no, that child is invading my space! Me me me me!”

    In fact, to help counter-balance the clueless assholes of the world, I’ll usually give the parent a smile, or if possible, say something funny: “Oh he’s so cute even when he’s pissed!” Because it’s true, a child (that is not mine) in the middle of a tantrum is generally hilariously adorable (I know they aren’t to the parents, but come on, alligator tears! That scrunched up, red face! They are so pissed at nothing! Sometimes, I wish I could just let go like that…)

    If you live in the real world, you need to realize that sometimes children cry! Sometimes they have tantrums! And sometimes you just can’t fucking help it, because children have horrible impulse control. Children are not little adults.

    Going to the grocery store is a necessity for nearly everyone, including single parents, poor parents, and busy parents. Parents who can’t always just leave their kid at home, while they get the food that sustains them.

    If you can’t handle the cry of someone else’s child without getting righteously pissed off, then you have issues, and are likely less mature than even the exhausted child throwing a tantrum in the middle of isle four.

    Ugh. It’s things like this that make me re-think my not having kids, because as a childfree person, I seem to be more relaxed about children acting like children then even those who have kids.

  95. @revmatty: I recently went to a local noodle place with a friend and his 2 year old. His 2 year old charmed the pants off the wait-staff. Still, we did pick up the noodles he dropped on the floor (maybe half ended up in his mouth, lol), and left a 25% tip.

  96. I don’t have any specifics – basically, I was wrong about everything, and continue to be so. I don’t care how prepared or determined you think you are, kid-wise, everything changes when you actually go through it. And I think that’s a very good thing.

    Part, if not a lot, of the worth of parenting is learning and growing yourself, and you should continue to do it as your child learns and grows. If you’re not doing that, or if you think you’re possessed of all-encompassing natural knowledge, Jenny McCarthy-style, you’re missing out. Becoming a mother has been and continues to be crazy, exasperating, tiring and a constant cycle of realizing I don’t have a clue what I’m doing – and it’s made me a much stronger, smarter, gentler and interesting person as a result. Which, in turn, are qualities I can use to inspire and teach my daughter.

    The rest of the time, of course, she can eat candy in front of the TV all evening just so I can have a cup of coffee in peace.

  97. @Outsider: If you and your daughter have exactly the same genes, you need to get into some science journals… or on Oprah. That shit’ll get you money.

    However, I’m not a parent, and rather glad of the fact. Right now, I’ve got nieces, who are these wonderful creatures you can spoil, read stories to, and get big, enthusiastic hugs from (at least the 4 year old… her 16 month old sister isn’t as enthusiastic about non-mommy people, yet). And when they get cranky or upset? You give them back to mommy. Or daddy. Or grammy. Or grandpa. Or, Hey, do you want to go play with Uncle Ryan?

    I like nieces.

  98. @sethmanapio: Just curious about the selfish thing; it seems to me pets (especially large dogs), vacations and discretionary travel involving lots of flying and a third child would meet your criteria for exceptionally selfish. Is the resource drain these choices involve the main issue?

  99. @marilove: OK, I have to say you are WAY out of line here. You may disagree with Davew, but there is no need to call him an asshole. We came really close to the edge earlier in this thread and stepped back from the brink. You just crossed it. Personally, I come here for rational discourse and occasionally the witty reparte. Personal attacks and name calling are over the line. If you can’t add something constructive, and be civil while you do it, then I would be happy if you added nothing at all.

    I think that some very valid points have been made on both sides of this particular issue. I will add that I support davew – to a point. I too have a problem with parents that take their kids out in public and through their inattention or lack of discipline ruin my time because they have decided that their having a fun outting trumps my desire for the same. I’m talking about parents who let their children run wild because it is their time out and they can’t be bothered. Like the other day when I was out for a nice dinner and the kids at the next table were bored and so they got up and started chasing each other through the dining room while their parents carried on their conversation as if nothing was going on. However, a tantrum in public? Sure, the parent has to set boundaries and sometimes let the kid scream himself out so he does not learn that’s the way to get what he wants.

    I think we are losing perspective on this situation by creating caricatures of the situation or taking the most extreme examples. All of this is time, place and situation dependant. A five star restaraunt on a Saturday evening at about 8 o’clock?…damn right that I will shoot you a look and say something if your 4-year-old is throwing a tantrum and tossing food and you are doing nothing to mitigate the circumstances! Saturday morning in Costco when your kid is bored and tired and possibly teething and it is obvious that you are trying to get the necessities done? Yeah, I’ll probably frown, wish I was somewhere else and then just get on with my day feeling sorry for the obviously harried mother.

  100. @dpaul: I’m calling him an asshole because he’s being an asshole. Every time someone kept trying to say: “But hey, sometimes kids cry or throw a tantrum, and parents still need food.” He would counter with, basically: “It doesn’t matter.”

    He was talking about a kid in a grocery store throwing a tantrum, not kids running amok in a restaurant. There is a difference.

    Yeah, I’ll probably frown, wish I was somewhere else and then just get on with my day feeling sorry for the obviously harried mother.

    My point is that people like him don’t think like that. They automatically judge the parent and judge them to be horrible parents. He’s made it pretty clear that’s how he feels.

  101. @emma: Oh yea. I’ve worked as a server AND I take kids to restaraunts (family appropriate ones) so I am sort of a ridiculously good tipper. But the barrista at the local coffee shop told us they like it when I bring my kids in, because we always leave our table/area clean. They in turn get my business because they are nice to my kids.

    And I can’t believe I didn’t mention it before, but – one thing I thought I would never do before I had kids? Homeschool! Guess what we do now? Homeschool! (And I sort of love it – it is extremely fun to explore the world with kids!)

  102. @marilove: I would disagree that he seems to judge them horrible parents because their children aren’t behaving according to his standards, but rather based on his comments thus far and in previous discussions of parenthood that he judges them to be horrible parents because they dared to have children and take them out in public, infringing on his unilateral right to not ever be bothered.

  103. @marilove: You are entitled to your opinion as to davew’s character. However, personal attacks will do nothing to change minds and only serve to damage your own credibility. Remember that it is not just davew’s mind you may need to change but also that of others with similar positions but who read these posts and may be listening to the arguments. More than once I have changed my mind on a position after reading the discussions generated here. It has always been because someone argued convincingly. It was never because I didn’t want someone to think I was an asshole. Your point may have been that “people like him don’t think like that”. If that is the case, then point out the flaw in his thinking. What I read when I see someone calling someone else an asshole is that “People like that don’t agree with me” and so you feel that you are well within your rights to call them names and invalidate their postion by attacking the person. Ad hominem attacks are ALWAYS wrong. We (rightfully) get bent when others do it to us so why are we not held to the same standard when we are arguing with those with who’s beliefs WE disagree?

    From Skepchick’s own “About” page: “Skepchick is a group of women (and one deserving guy) who write about science, skepticism, and pseudoscience. With intelligence, curiosity, and occasional snark, the group tackles……” I would like to think (hope?) that those who comment on things here conduct themselves in a similar manner. No where in there does it say anything about name calling or personal attacks.

    In many of these AI discussions, I have found myself disgreeing with positions you have taken but I have never resorted to name calling and I vow never to do so. If you disgree with me, fine, say so. Stake out a position and defend it rationally and from a fact-based position. If you think that I, or anyone else, has made a point that is invalid then try to change our minds, or you if think we are responding with “it doesn’t matter” (i.e. they are not considering your argument) then disengage.

    You personally attacked the man and not the argument. I stand by my original comment. You crossed a line.

  104. @James Fox: Is the resource drain these choices involve the main issue?


    I don’t actually judge much about how selfish other people are, with the exception of people who are actually stealing things or, say, destroying a large company or an economy to gain short term profit for themselves. I take umbrage with the idea that having children is exceptionally selfish, in comparison with many other everyday behaviors which are at least as selfish, but not necessarily MORE selfish.

  105. @James Fox: Just curious about the selfish thing; it seems to me pets (especially large dogs), vacations and discretionary travel involving lots of flying and a third child would meet your criteria for exceptionally selfish. Is the resource drain these choices involve the main issue?

    I think the question of selfishness would make an excellent AI sometime. It is very fertile ground for conflicting but equally valid opinions.

  106. @dpaul: Ad hominem attacks are ALWAYS wrong.


    Calling someone an asshole isn’t an ad hominem argument.

    Marilove made exactly the same substantive points as everyone else: children need to learn to behave in public by going out in public, and families with toddlers need groceries.

    She also called DaveW an asshole. Essentially, Marilove’s post was “DaveW is wrong for these reasons, therefore he is an asshole.” What she didn’t do is say “Dave is an asshole, therefore he is wrong.” The former is perhaps rude or uncalled for, but is not an ad hominem argument.

  107. How about this:

    Let’s stop calling each other assholes for right now.

    I think Dave realizes that it’s completely unreasonable to assume that the world will be well-behaved and quiet around him. Wanting it and expecting it are two different things.

    Also, he answered the question… and the discussion about why that’s unreasonable ensued. It’s not actually all that uncommon for people to think that kids should be well behaved in public… I think someone might have said “seen and not heard” at some point? Reality: people without kids (and people old enough to have forgotten what it’s like to have little kids) tend to be naive on what it takes to make them reasonably behaved adults.

    I think we had a good discussion. No?

    Besides, part of the reason we love Dave is because he’s kind of a pompous asshole. It’s his charm.

  108. @sethmanapio: You are right. In my rightous indignation, I was liberal (OK…wrong) in my use of that phrase and I stand corrected. Rude yes, ad hominem, no.

    But name calling is still uncalled for and no way to win an argument.

  109. And SUV’s. I do consider extreme vehicles to be exceptionally selfish for the average consumer. It’s not the resources, although they do drive gas prices up for all of us. It’s mostly the danger they pose to other vehicles because of their extreme bulk. The resources they use should be an extra bonus to a guy like DW, because he hates all cars.

    Kids use resources, but they also contribute resources over their lifetimes. For one thing, one Norman Borlaug pays for about 500 million useless twerps. But even useless twerps (like me, by that standard) contribute taxes and ideas. A big-ass car doesn’t.

  110. First off — I was naive about how hard it was going to be. I mean, you have an idea but then the baby arrives and it’s HOLYF*CKIHAVENOIDEAWHATIAMDOING!

    Top that off with a screaming baby 24-7 (and I kid you not, it seems like 24-7) and not sleeping AT ALL for the first month.

    I was going to be miss eco-mom. I was getting the g-diaper compostable system and I was going to breastfeed! That is until she never wanted to latch on and would scream, scream and scream some more and the g-diapers became so expensive and she leaked right through them.

    She’s now 3 months old and smiling, which is so much more rewarding, but now she has reflux and is teething early. I just can’t catch a break!

    The smiling is worth it though. In the beginning she is just (to quote Angelina Jolie) “a blob.” A small, helpless crying blob. Now? She is a big gummy smiling monster that likes me to give her belly raspberries and duck noises.

    It’s still so hard and I give single parents so much credit because I don’t know how they do it. I love Olive to death and I would do anything for her but I’ll admit to boughts of time when all I want to do is defenestrate her. :-P

    It really is an adventure and it gets better each day but phew! It is HARD.

    Oh, and the constant advice is enough to drive you mad, MAD — Like MAD as a hatter! *googly eyes*

  111. @Elyse: Besides, part of the reason we love Dave is because he’s kind of a pompous asshole. It’s his charm.

    I was aiming for arrogant jerk. I must have missed.

    Another question for parents, do you like those grocery cars with plastic cars attached to them? They seem awfully unwieldy. I assume the point is to give the kid something to do and therefore make the shopping experience smoother. Does it work?

  112. @Jen: Very well said!

    Oh, and I’d like to throw something out there but — how are the studies regarding tv watching in children under 2? I had a major debate going with my anti-tv MIL recently (basically I wanted her to back up her sources if she is going to comment that watching tv is detrimental when it’s the only thing I can do to get her to quiet down while I do a chore)

    All I have are my experiences so I was asking for some journal articles she couldn’t provide. I know I turned out fine, and any research is purely observational to an extent so I refuse to think I am giving Olive ADD.

    Besides, in my unscientific opinion I think the internet is a million times worse for you attention span than watching Sesame Street.

  113. @Surly Nymph: There are a few studies on TV and children none of which are particularly good. I believe the conventional wisdom is “tv sparingly at young ages, gradually increased over time as they get older”.

    My kids go through phases where all they want to do is watch TV, and then for a while they have no interest at all in TV and would rather read, then they would rather color/draw/play-doh, etc. Hard and fast rules of any sort outside of those intended for preventing immediate injury/death are just going to cause you more headache than they’re worth.

    My 6 year old was plopped in front of the TV from early on when there was no other way to occupy her while chores that she shouldn’t be around for safety reasons (cleaning the toilet/tub, cooking) were accomplished. This year she got promoted a grade after 6 weeks of school because she was so far ahead of the rest of the class and even so is easily the smartest kid in her new class and always gets 100% on her tests. She reads about 2 grade levels above what’s expected at her age. The plural of anecdote isn’t data, of course.

    @davew: Depends on the carts. Some stores have well designed ones whose prime function is clearly to contain several kids while you get your shopping done. The ones that aim to entertain the kids rather than merely contain them tend to suck. “driving the car” is amusing for them for about 10 minutes and then the design shortcomings in re: containment as a result of going for ‘entertaining’ become quite obvious.

  114. Here is the biggest thing I learned from being a parent: 99% of everyone else’s parenting advice is USELESS. Because kids, like the rest of us, are people. With personalities. The “methods” we use to teach them manners and discipline exist to make parents feel in control. They are an illusion at best.

    (Which makes me cry when I realize that all the parenting “tricks” I’ve learned with my 1st probably won’t work at all with my 2nd. I’m going to have to figure this whole mommy thing out all over again, only this time I’m twice as tired! Wah!)

  115. Hmmm, I don’t think I had any naive pre-parenting misconceptions, since my mom was depressed from my birth and never really able to function as a parent, so I ended up doing most of the child rearing for my three younger sibs. That’ll dash most of your fantasies.

    I can’t say I had any problems though. For one thing, I opted to run my own childcare for the first five years of being a mother. I learned a lot preparing for that and dealing with six kids under 5 for up to 12 hours a day. I learned to keep us all on schedules, children really really need stability, and specially to be one step ahead of the child.

    For instance, I avoided public scenes by conditioning the children from an early age as to what was appropriate behavior. I did this by only taking them grocery shopping when they were very young. When we got into the store, I would hand the child a banana and tell them that if they behaved well the entire time (yes, you had to specify with mine) they could have it as soon as it was weighed. If they engaged in behavior I found unacceptable I would just sak, “Did you want that banana?” You should have seen the eldest one clutch that banana and sit quietly. Added bonus, he was so excited about the banana by the time we got to the check out that he was three or four before he noticed the candy. (Okay, honestly, I learned this sort of thing from showing dogs as a teenager . LOL)

    I think a lot of the problems folks face in being new parents would be eliminated if we just expected parents to have as much training as we expect our barber and mechanic to have. After all, isn’t raising a child far more important than cutting someone’s hair or changing their oil?

  116. @gwenny: I think a lot of the problems folks face in being new parents would be eliminated if we just expected parents to have as much training as we expect our barber and mechanic to have. After all, isn’t raising a child far more important than cutting someone’s hair or changing their oil?

    While I understand in an abstract way what you mean, kids aren’t exactly cars. Well, in a biological sense they are like machines (which is how my husband can be a paramedic) but psychologically they are all different. What is going to work with one child won’t always work with another, if it did than all of the parenting advice we love so much would be useful :-P

  117. @Alterjess: Consistency and having healthy boundaries are not tricks and really do make a difference. And most parents seem to be more relaxed with the second child, so there’s hope!

  118. @gwenny: Excuse me? I was only making a comment based on something you said that I disagreed with. I was not hostile towards you. Why did I deserve such a disrespectful answer?

  119. @gwenny: I’d like to add — you can have all of the training in the world (training in how to deal with children in public, how to change diapers, how to breastfeed, etc.) but none of that actually, truthfully prepares you for parenthood. I read the books, I prepared, I listened to the advice. I babysat for my cousins, I’ve been around kids — NONE of that meant anything when I was dealing with my own child so suggesting that one can train for parenthood as if they were a mechanic or hairstylist is insulting.

    A child is not a car which can be delt with in a methodical manner based on something as simple as make or model. My child is not your child, or my cousin’s child or my friends child.

    I’d also like to note: a lot of the trouble first time parents have don’t necessarily deal with the child, but more like having a life and keeping your identity WITH a child. It’s hard to describe how torturous it is to not be able to sleep for months or years after having a baby to someone who does not have one. Before having mine it was something I knew would happen but when it did?? It’s a MAJOR shock to the system.

    Some people are lucky and their baby will sleep through the night right from the get go — this wasn’t so with me. Add colic to that and the sudden realization that I may never be able to simply sit and read a book in peace again and you really start to wonder in the beginning if you were prepared for this life long change.

    It’s not so simple when my baby won’t breastfeed, is crying out of frustrating, won’t drink dairy formula and is constipated with soy. How do you prepare a parent for the many sleepless nights and the constant feeling that you are playing trial and error with a tiny, dependent life?

  120. @Surly Nymph: I occasionally parked the Offspring in front of the multinational TV channel when hw was <2 – if one doesn't hear a phoneme by about 18 months, one doesn't "hear" it later. So the kid heard Spanish, Italian, French, Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese, German, Korean, Russian, Tagalog and Farsi. His Japanese, Korean and Spanish accents are all very good; whether early exposure had a hand in this may not be provable, but I think it's likely. It was not a babysitter, but was handy when Mummy had to take a shower.

    However, I warn you now: CareBears and Barney are clear and convincing evidence that evil exists – and it's trying to make you diabetic.

  121. OK OK selfish parent confession time.

    At age 7 our daughter went to Nickelodeon studios in Florida (we were in town for a wedding and thought, “hey let’s not do disney”)I was publically horrified when they asked all the kids “who has seen THIS show? And This show? And this Show?” Evelyn had seen THEM ALL. So she got picked for the slime demonstration. I have it immortalized on video.

    She went to the fancy hippy private school and told her teacher that “Pop Tarts” was her favorite food.

    Honestly, there is NO book on parenting. You listen to your child. Your child, from birth, will let you know who he/she is. You try your best to help your child get what he/she needs. You want a ballerina, your kid wants to be death defying rock climber. You want a musician, your child is tone deaf and likes video games. You wanted a healthy child, you get a disabled child. You just know, on all levels, that you would kill to keep your child safe and will do whatever you can for these wonderful creatures that share your life for a short time.

    That Nickelodeon junkie that still eats pop tarts? yeah… she’s done ok. Sometimes she posts here, right now she’s headed to Oman to help global warming and be an ambassador for cultural sensitivity while retaining her dignity as a female in a male dominated society. yeah, eating slime can lead to good things.

    TV, ha, my daughter that is unable to read as she is disabled was a finalist in the state Geo Bee simply from being a National Geographic junkie. Don’t demonize the tube. We aren’t Amish. A lot of good kids grow up with tv on some level. Everything is balance.

    and don’t forget nature vs. nurture. Nature will bite your parental nuturing ass.
    As for adoption, I think Monica Dickens (she brought the Samaritans to the US from the UK) had a good take on adoption. She adopted two children. She was clear in her biography that the adopted children will never be grateful or thankful. They will be like regular children, no more or less selfish than other children. Also she said, as a parent of an adopted child you worry that maybe the next person that would hve come along to adopt that child would have done a better job. You aren’t “saving” that child.

  122. There are some points here that are interesting, and some that are not. It gets problematic discussing anyone else’s parenting decisions. I’ve not seen one parent yet here who has read advice that was in conflict with their own ideas, then decided their own ideas were “incomplete”.

    I think davew had to take way too much heat for his views. He readily admitted understanding that kids will have their moments. If I got the crux of his criticism correctly, he takes issue with parents of misbehaving children that take no action to correct the behavior.

    I agree with him entirely. After observing my boys and others’ children, it seems patently obvious that they will do whatever they are allowed to do. And, I have to agree, I’ve seen far too many instances of parents simply allowing bad behavior.

    My memory could also be affected by confirmation bias, as davew may agree with. We don’t pay a great deal of attention to other’s well behaved children in public places. Their good behavior doesn’t intrude on our worlds. Bet we sure as hell remember the times when our worlds were intruded on by screaming kids, to include our own.

    How do we deal with it in our family? If we are in public and a meltdown begins, that public activity ends. Every time. If it’s grocery shopping, it ends. If I have to get groceries the next day, that’s what happens. I don’t have to tolerate that behavior from my boys, and neither does anyone else.

    As for picky eating, I do get a chuckle when I hear about it. Does anyone anywhere know of a case where a kid has starved himself because they didn’t get what they wanted to eat?

    Rubbish. We offer a variety of foods at each meal. The boys can eat what we have, or be hungry until the next meal. I haven’t seen picky eating last longer than 24 hours in our house.

    But, will they scream when they don’t get what they want? Usually. For as long as we tolerate it. Which isn’t long. A little time in their room usually solves that in one application.

    But overall, the concept is probably equivalent for all of us. We define a behavior we expect, and then we figure out ways to get that behavior. It’s the “figuring out ways to get it” that poses the difficulties.

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