Perfecting Your Parenting: Practical Advice from an Average Mom

    Perfecting Your Parenting
    “Happy mother…” © evgenyatamanenko.

    I love it when other parents give me advice on how to raise my children. If they have more children or older children than I do, they might assume they know more. I will agree they probably have more patience, and they’re leaning over the edge toward insanity instead of swimming in it like me. However, I can tell when advice is warranted and when it’s simply being given out of arrogance. The only thing I would want to know from a mother of twelve is how she’s managed not to rip her hair out. Nevertheless, parenting advice comes whether you want it or not. So – in the spirit of annoying traditions, here are my two cents.


    Let’s start with a popular one. “Your children are so spoiled.” So? What’s your point? I have three amazing kids who deserve to be spoiled. They respect me, and they love me. If I want to spoil them, I will. Am I telling you to do the same with yours? No. You decide what’s best for your family. This works in my case, and I love spoiling my kids. If you think your children deserve to be spoiled, then spoil them until they give you a reason not to. If someone says something about it, tell them to shove off. Your children will grow up to do great things, and theirs will end up in prison. Okay, maybe that’s a bit much. Still, they should mind their own business.

    My children love video games, so they got video games for Christmas. (gasp) I know, right. Some people may think a love for video games comes from the dad, but not in this case. I’ve always loved video games. I started out playing Frogger on my big sister’s Atari in the late 1980s. I know how much fun video games can be, and I want my kids to have fun. Have I been criticized for it? Of course. Do I care? No. My children are straight-A students who understand that work comes before play. There is nothing wrong with their priorities, and I take credit for that. When your children deserve it, reward them with the things they love.


    Ever heard this one? “You’ll eat what I make, or you’ll go to bed hungry!” Fortunately for me, I never had a problem cleaning my plate. I ate everything in sight. Still do. When each of my children reached the age for solid foods, I tried this too. Of course, I never sent them to bed hungry because I just couldn’t do that. Instead, I threatened and argued with them for hours to eat the food I made. They still wouldn’t eat it, so I ended up making them what they wanted anyway. Maybe I’m just soft, but I decided it’s much easier to let everyone eat what they actually want. What’s wrong with that?

    My children are very different, and they like different foods. One of them loves asparagus while the other two don’t. One of them eats ketchup with eggs, and the other two gag at the sight. Each child is an individual, so they should be treated as such. Yes, it’s more work to make different food for each one. Guess what? Children are work. If you plan to have six or eight kids, expect most of them to want something different to eat. That’s just how it is. You wouldn’t eat something that makes you want to vomit, so why make your children do it? There are other ways to enforce your power while sparing yourself some anxiety. Let them have the cereal for dinner. It won’t hurt them.


    Bribes work, people. They work wonders. The trick is your strategy. You shouldn’t bribe them at every turn but knowing which bribes to use at which times is key. “I’ll pay you to eat your dinner?” No. “You can have ice cream if you eat your dinner?” Yes. That one is pretty simple, especially if your children are younger. Just make sure not to give the ice cream until the meal is actually finished. The young ones are usually the easiest to bargain with, so I save my youngest for last. The older ones caught on a long time ago, so they require more complex bribery. Luckily, I’ve learned what my kids love and hate the most by eavesdropping on them. Yes, I said it.

    If what you’re asking of them is something they despise, offering an incentive answers the question, “Why should I?” “If you clean your room, I’ll buy you something you want.” My children don’t yet comprehend the relationship between the price tag on something and what they hold in their hands. Therefore, it does nothing in my house for me to offer them cash for doing things. Instead, I offer to buy them things they’ve desperately been wanting. Go ahead. Judge me. I’ll be curled up on the couch with a Gerard Butler movie while you’re still arguing with your kids to clean their rooms. If you think about it, it really isn’t that bad. They’re doing what you ask, and they’re getting something in return. Everybody wins.

    Final thoughts

    I try to put a humorous spin on things to keep people reading to the end without boring them. I don’t know if it works, but I do mean the things I write about. I am capable of being serious and even heartfelt at times. Here’s an example: children are much smarter than we give them credit for. They understand, and they learn quickly. It’s not enough to reward them with material things when they do what you ask. Thank them for cleaning their rooms. Say it aloud. Tell them how much you love them. Tell them how smart they are, how beautiful they are, and how much you appreciate them. Surprise them with a hug just because you can. They won’t forget it.

    I think parenting begins before a child is even born. Discovering you’re pregnant changes the way your brain processes information. You realize how simple-minded you used to be when everything suddenly revolves around the life growing inside you. Every thought involves them, and that’s the way it should be. If it’s your first pregnancy, other parents will come out of nowhere to give you advice on how to do things the “right” way. It’s okay to let them think they’re truly helping you. Just smile and nod. The thing is – bearing and raising another human is an innate ability. Even when we doubt ourselves, somehow, we figure it out.

    What practical parenting advice can you share? Be sure to let me know in the comments.

    Candidly yours,

    Copyright © 2021-2024 Irene Bratton

    Plain-language Required Disclaimer:

    I am not a medical or legal professional. The information in this article is based solely on personal experience and my honest opinion. This article should not be considered either medical or legal advice, and may or may not be appropriate for your specific situation, the details of which are totally unknown to me.

    Accordingly, I cannot take responsibility for any adverse event which might occur if you choose to follow the advice given, in whole or in part, which you do at your own risk. Consider it “food for thought” rather than expert guidance.

    Please seek a qualified medical or legal practitioner for a professional assessment of your exact circumstances if your health, safety, and/or some other important aspect of your life is involved.

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