My Child-Rearing Philosophy Is Simple.

Or is it?

I grapple with this myself on the regular.

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My philosophy as a parent in theory is really, and truly, very simple: don’t raise assholes. As I said, in theory this is easy. Raise good people. People that are kind. That care for others. That experience empathy. That know how to set healthy boundaries. That practice mindfulness. And so on…

Do all this by example. All of it. Let me be clear: ALL. OF. IT. You are not going to raise empathetic and kind people if you, yourself, are not empathetic and kind. You are not going to teach your kids about healthy boundaries and taking care of themselves if you, yourself, let people walk all over you, and let it affect your own physical and mental well-being.

But there is one area in not raising little terrorist assholes, who one day grow up to be the likes of Donald Trump or Ann Coulter – willing to stomp on anyone to get ahead, drop anything and anyone for the next best thing, all while spewing hateful words every single time they open their mouths…

…it’s in not letting other people raise assholes of your children either.

Without going into too many specifics, we are surrounded by a lot of people in our daily lives who have otherwise undesirable characteristics. Is that a nice enough way to say it? just-a-friendly-reminder-that-getting-shit-faced-is-not-always-the-key-to-having-a-good-time-5e363My husband and I are just very far on the opposite end of the spectrum from a lot of people we regularly encounter in that regard. We have high standards for the way we treat people, and as a result expect to be treated the same. We do not believe in getting shit-faced in front of the children, and we don’t have anything to do with gossip even when it’s just being spoken in our presence. Above all, we believe in being kind, understanding, honest, empathetic of other people’s feelings, and trustworthy.

Not everyone agrees with us on these things, though. Look, not everyone agrees on the way to live their lives. And, people have different priorities.

At some point, though, my husband and I started to realize the profound effect being associated so regularly with people who do not share our values (again, a nice enough way of saying it? …you never know who is reading this blog…) – how much those people were affecting our ability to raise good kids.

We have a couple of people (again, the vaguery) that constantly promise things and then drop said promise for something better that comes up. Now I’ll be the first to admit that sometimes things come up – you get sick, your car breaks down… Sometimes it’s something innocuous – like we kind of-sort of have standing weekly plans together, but something came up one weekend and the kids got disappointed but the plans were never really set in stone so… But then other times, like in the most recent event, it’s “yes I will be at your tennis tournament that weekend” and then the very next day decided instead to go with friends and family to a casino to drink, gamble, and waterski.

Um…shitty…

We are very fortunate that this hasn’t – yet – taught our kids that it’s OK to make a commitment only to drop it if something better comes along. But what left me with a chill down my spine that I could just not shake this afternoon was when my daughter said “you know, I guess from now on I’ll just tell them I’ll do things with them only to cancel for something better too.”

My parenting philosophy to not raise assholes seemed so easy. Just be good, show them what it means to be good – even when it feels like a slow, agonizing death inside to do so (like not saying nasty things about other people in front of them); and it’ll all turn out well, right? Wrong. The impact of others, though -especially as they get older – seems to have more and more of a profound effect on them.

And now raising kids gets hard again.

It sounds like just a petty reaction, do unto others so if they flake on me for something better, I’ll do the same. Won’t become a long term habit, right? Feet, meet slippery slope – suddenly in front of my eyes flashed a day when my kids thought it was legitimately acceptable to tell someone that you’ll do something only to flake because someone asks you to go gambling and drinking, or water skiing, or whatever it is you were asked to do that seemed more fun.

I mean…that’s what other people do. It must be OK.

So now my husband and I are tasked with figuring out the next phase. The next phase of not raising assholes, which not only involves showing by our own examples, but making sure that the examples they are shown by others are in line with our own values as well.

Talking about how others act in a way that is undesirable is clearly not enough. So then how do you even go about surrounding yourself by the people you want your kids to grow up to be?

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How To Tell If You’re Dating An [Expletive Deleted]

This isn’t just for women, because while some men can be real [expletive deleted]s, I’ve also met my fair share of women that could be described as such.  It doesn’t necessarily apply to only dating, either – it could be How To Tell If You’re Married To An [Expletive Deleted], How To Tell If You’re ‘Friends With Benefits’ With An [Expletive Deleted]; it could even be How To Tell If You’re Hopelessly Chasing After An [Expletive Deleted] … you get the point.

A few years ago, I was out to dinner and drinks with some friends and one of them had canceled at the last minute to go out with her boyfriend.  The group got into a huge conversation about the guy – his behaviors, how he treated our friend, and the like – and the consensus of the group was that she was still in her “[expletive deleted] phase.”  Women and men, alike, all go through it, unless they are (of course) an [expletive deleted], themselves.  Here’s a handy guide to the top three, unambiguous ways to know if you, yourself, are on the other end of an [expletive deleted] phase:

#1 Your Significant Other Constantly Puts People Down

There is a huge difference between constructive criticism and being blunt or honest, and just plain being an [expletive deleted].  A few months ago I was at a wedding with a group of our friends, and one of the attendees kept making derogatory remarks about the people there.  The rudeness had reached its absolute worst when he said (loudly) of one of the bridesmaids, “jeez, could tub-o block out the sun anymore, there?”  If the person you’re with crosses the line, time and again, with the comments he or she makes about other people, they’re an [expletive deleted].

#2 Your Significant Other Constantly Puts YOU Down

I’m not just talking about when your boyfriend or girlfriend puts down something you have done (although that is a definite sign of an [expletive deleted]).  I’m also going on to suggest that if they are constantly telling you to quiet down, stop talking, or that you are just, plain wrong, it’s very probable your significant other is an [expletive deleted].  Another sign of this is that your significant other always responds to your “did you know…” attempts at having a discussion with “yeah, I know about it already, old news.”  One of my friends right now (I hope she doesn’t read this!) is currently engaged to a guy that constantly tells her to stop talking.  It’s happened in groups, when it’s just us – everywhere.  If the person you’re with is continually talking down to you, chances are they’re an [expletive deleted].

#3 You Are OUT Of Your Significant Other’s Mind More Than You Are ON It

This is a big one.  Your boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, wife – whatever – thinks more about everything else than you.  This one is usually subtle.  Sometimes its masked as “busy at work” or “a lot of family things going on,” but over time (and especially as your relationship progresses), if you are in a relationship with someone that prioritizes all of their other relationships in front of you, they are very likely worth ditching.  One of my cousins (that I know isn’t reading this!) is married to a woman that is constantly giving reasons for her absence:  too crazy at work to call, too many family events to have time for just the two of them, too many other hobbies to even respond to emails.  For some reason he continues to tolerate it, after years of waiting for his wife to come around.  The bottom line, though, is that if you are in a relationship with someone that is always too busy to have you on their mind, they are most certainly an [expletive deleted].

There are a lot of other things that make a person an [expletive deleted].  Never doing nice things for their significant other, always acting like a cheapskate when it comes to romance, expecting you to sacrifice everything of yours for them, while giving nothing in return … the list goes on, but as it does gets a little more difficult to decipher whether it is a truly bad behavior, or circumstantial.  That’s what the top three, unambiguous ways to tell above are for:  all of them are the easiest, and universal, ways to delineate a true [expletive deleted].

If you recognize some of this in your own relationships, you should take a moment to pause and consider just what you actually get out of the relationship.  Chances are, it’s very little.  At the end of the day, life is just too damn short to deal with assholes.

SHUT UP

Sorry, that’s a bit bold, but I really think there are a lot of people that just need to hear that.  SHUT UP.  

In all seriousness, here’s the deal:  there is so much self-centeredness going on in this world that I’m starting to feel like my head is going to explode from the inside-out.  Still not understanding what I’m talking about?  Consider these two scenarios, both of which I encountered today:

While trying to relax with a good book in my usual, comfy chair at the local library this afternoon, I was inundated with so much noise I read the same sentence of Beauvoir’s ‘Ethics of Ambiguity’ over and over again.  Kids were running around screaming, somebody’s baby had bumped his head and was crying, and two, gloriously obnoxious women were standing right next to me having the conversation of the century in volumes much louder than an inside voice.  When I finally got up and moved to another location, that crying baby and his mom came over near me and he continued to cry while she read a story out loud to him.  With every turn of the storybook’s pages she read faster and faster, and grew louder and louder.  When I finally had enough of the noise and disquiet of what is supposed to be the quietest place on Earth, I asked the librarian if she was going to do anything about the noise and was told “these people have just as much of a right to be loud as you do to be quiet.”  (And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why I rarely complain in public places.)

I came home shortly afterwards, frazzled and ready for the quiet of my home.  Of no one’s fault but my own, I made the mistake of logging into my Facebook page only to see that yet another friend is expecting a baby – yay, congratulations, join the crowd over every other woman under the age of 40 right now.  All snarkiness aside, I went to do the right thing and offer my congratulations, and in doing so noticed that every other comment of congratulations on her status of joyous news turned into something along the lines of this: “Congrats! I’m 31 weeks and I’m ready for this baby to pop!”  I’m sorry!  I didn’t realize that this Facebook update was all about you!  31 weeks and ready to pop?  Well, let me just set my own joy aside to focus on you for a few minutes.

Okay, so it’s a bit of a tangent, but ultimately, it seems that so much narcissism is creeping into every, single corner of our lives.  We take every opportunity to turn everything into being about ourselves; and completely disregard the feelings of others.  To the ladies at the library who couldn’t take their conversation outside; the mother that didn’t realize she should remove her screaming child from the grounds; the parents who don’t control their children from running and yelling; these people who like to turn every person’s happy news into being all about them; and every other self-centered person who seems to think that everything in the world is related to them and their self-interest in some way, shape, or form:  SHUT UP.