Never say Never!
As a young first-time mother, I was pretty sure I knew a LOT about child rearing. After all, I read Dr. Spock cover to cover! Other young mothers and I would get together with our babies and toddlers and tell each other all the things that our kids would NEVER do; we would raise them right! It was during this time of being a know-it-all that a wise older woman gave me this advice on child-rearing, "Never say 'Never' because your child is sure to make you eat your words!"
It’s part of human nature to go through periods of time when we think we know everything. Two-year-old toddlers assert themselves by deciding what to eat, when to sleep and when to obey their parents (not very often!). Teenagers are experts on driving, relationships, movies, parenting, the educational system, politics and drug and alcohol laws.
Prospective and new parents might be the worst because they have read all the books! I’m here to save new parents from unending embarrassment by sharing the most important advice I ever received as a new parent:
Never Say 'Never!'
Oh it sounds simple enough, and you may even be thinking that you’re going to hear lyrics from the Justin Bieber song. Not so! I'm here to give a special bit of advice to new parents so that their fatal words don't come back to bite them in the butt.
I know from personal experience that one thing parents should never say is "My child will never..."
Kids who break things
For example my Essay:
"My child will NEVER break my good things. I’m not going to put away all my nice things just because I have a baby. My child will learn to respect other people’s property from a young age and will never break my good things."
18 month old Hannah (just before breaking an antique box, ruining a photograph and smashing a Tiffany lamp:
"HI YA! I’ll just put my crayons in Mommy’s little Limoges box. Oh, they don’t fit! Maybe if I bang the box lid on them…wait, I think I need to color this picture on the table…Oops, that Tiffany lamp was wobbly... look at how all the pretty colors came apart when it broke..."
Kids who are picky eaters
"My child will NEVER be a picky eater because I’ll introduce her to a wide variety of foods and she will happily eat whatever we eat."
Four-Year-Old David at dinner last night:
"I don’t care if I ate broccoli, green beans and peas last week! Green vegetables are poison, and make me throw up! Gag! Yuck! You can't make me eat them! I'll puke!"
Kids who have bad manners
"My child will NEVER embarrass me in public because he will learn good manners from an early age."
Five Year Old Chris in the restaurant:
"I have to eat the spaghetti with my fingers because it keeps sliding off my fork. Look at that lady's hair. Why is it orange? How come I have to use a tissue? At home I always wipe my boogers on my pants..."
Kids who lie
"My child will NEVER lie to me. He will know that he can tell me anything."
Thirteen-year-old Danny after being sent home from Bobby's house in disgrace:
"I wouldn't watch porn on the internet. No, I didn't show Bobby how to get to the porn sites on his Mom's computer. We did not download porn. I don't know how those pictures got on her computer..."
Kids who drive too fast
"My teen will ALWAYS be a safe driver. My son never speeds because he knows that speeding tickets are too expensive and would make our insurance go up."
"Dad, I got stopped for speeding and the ticket is going to be $150. I might lose my license if I can't get out of it. I promise, I'll pay you back..."
Teens who get pregnant
"We will never have to worry about a teen pregnancy with our daughter. We've always talked openly about sex and birth control. She's educated and smart enough to know the dangers as well as the preventative measures."
Seventeen Year Old Missy:
"Mom, I think I'm pregnant! We only did it once! But we're in love..."
Best parenting advice is not always taken
There you have it. While this might not be the exact story of your life, you can count on the fact that along the line, your children will make you eat your words if you ever say, "My child will never..."
Parents would be wise to have compassion for other parents whose children embarrass them in public, who break their valuable antiques, who get caught speeding, drinking or become pregnant. The truth is that parents do the best job they can do. They teach their children good manners, responsibility, accountability and respect for others. While most of what we teach our children sticks, they will still lead their own lives. When you have children, nothing is guaranteed, especially their behavior.
The best parenting advice I ever received was from my older friend who told me, "Never say that your child will never do something, because he's sure to make you eat your words!"
And how I wish I had followed that advice!