Thursday, 06 December 2012

Parenting Featured

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Look at that sullen lump of pimples sitting in the corner listening to My Bloody Valentine and sobbing. Do you think maybe it’s your fault your progeny turned out so vile and vile-smelling? Well it is. If only Ben had been there to give you this advice a decade ago...

Is there any greater contribution one can make to society than reproducing? Having children is the highest expression of humanity possible. After all, sperm can be deposited anywhere — in hair, in eyes, in the smallgoods aisle — but it only attains its true purpose when deposited inside a woman’s stomach or however it works, I don’t know, I’m not a doctor. There’s tubes or something, I think.

But the mysterious workings of the female insideyness is not the point. The point is, there is no nobler calling than that of parent. And it is true, as they say, that raising a child is the hardest job in the world. Some might disagree and claim that being an astronaut is harder, but this is probably because they are infertile and/or Greens.

If you have never shouldered the awesome responsibility of keeping an eye on a small person while reading the paper at McDonald’s, you probably don’t know just how hard it is. But those of you who are considering embarking on this sacred journey are about to find out, and so you will need some advice on how to navigate the choppy waters of the Neo-Natal Ocean. Luckily I am a qualified parent of three children who are not even dead right now, and so I can happily give this advice, free of charge (apart from what you paid for this magazine obviously).

Firstly, remember that your child is not your friend. A lot of parents make the mistake of trying to be “best buddies” with their children. But a parent shouldn’t be a friend — they need to be a source of authority and boundary-setting and discipline, guiding the child along the road of life, rather than holding their hand as they skip happily off the path and get eaten by a coyote. So never, ever try to be your child’s friend. If anything you should do the opposite: be cold and distant to your child. Every now and then, pretend you don’t know them. Ignore them when they come to you with their problems. Tell them to stop calling you. Eventually they will get the message: you’re not their friend, you’re their parent, and there are rules to be followed.

Also, it is important to let kids be kids. Many parents fall into the trap of not letting kids be kids, forcing them to be adults or dogs or bricks. It’s important that as a parent, you do not misuse your awesome power to force your children to dress up as other species or inanimate objects for your own amusement.

The temptation for your kids to be something besides kids is understandable – children become extremely boring after a couple of days – but we do not become parents just for the entertainment value, we become parents in order to receive government subsidies.

If we want to continue being parents, we must allow our kids to be kids, or else we won’t be parents anymore, we’ll just be some sort of freak-curator, and we might miss out on major tax benefits. So make sure your kids are always being kids. If you catch them not being kids, apply harsh discipline.

Which is the next point: discipline is key. This does not have to mean corporal punishment, although it probably will. I mean, if you can’t slap your own kids, who can you slap? Other people’s kids? Yes, them too. But sometimes slapping is not enough. Sometimes your children will do bad, bad things, like putting honey in their hair or leaving DVDs out of their cases, and you’ll need to make clear, in a firm but fair manner, that such behaviour is not acceptable. This could be as simple as crouching down low and whispering threats, or you may be forced to “take it to the next level” and trap them in a small enclosed space with a tape of spider footsteps playing on a continuous loop.

I’m not trying to be prescriptive here, all I am saying is that if they are to grow into mature, confident, well-rounded, respectful citizens, children must be taught to follow the rules of society, and sometimes, psychological torture is the only language kids understand. Seriously: they don’t even understand English a lot of the time. I mean, god, kids are dumb.

Which segues nicely to my next point: kids are dumb. This isn’t exactly advice, but it’s definitely information you can use to your advantage. With mobile phone scams etc.

But perhaps the most crucial piece of advice I can give any prospective parent is this: children need love. It’s not that important that they don’t always have clean clothes, or new shoes, or healthy gums – these things are ephemeral. But a child must ALWAYS know that it is loved. Never allow your child to feel unloved. Hug them often, up to fifty times a day, vigorously and aggressively, whimpering, “Never leave me” as you do so, to make sure they are in no doubt about your love for them. Sit by their bedside watching them sleep, so if they wake up during the night the first thing they see is your face, looming over them in the moonlight, staring down intensely. They will feel safe and protected by your loving attentiveness.

And it never hurts to give them large gifts now and then – these can be expensive though, so you might want to steal them. If you feel your love isn’t enough for your child, bring in some external support: many strangers on the street will be happy to come to your home for a small fee and shout “I LOVE YOU!” at your child for a while. Soon you will have a child who will face all challenges in life with equanimity, because they know they are loved.

So now you are armed with the keys to raising a healthy, well-adjusted child, all you need do is insert those keys into your children’s lock, and reap the benefits of parenting, such as pride, grandchildren, and a gnawing sense of emptiness. Happy childrening!


Ben  Pobjie

Ben has not one but TWO hilarious books out now. Surveying the Wreckage and Superchef.

Follow him on twitter @benpobjie