There is no easy way to say this, so I’ll just say it:
You are fucking up your kids.
And I am, too.
Because that’s what we do.
We don’t do it proudly or on purpose: we just do.
And it doesn’t matter what we do, or how carefully we consider our choices, or which experts we consult. Our kids will have issues no matter what.
If we breastfeed, they’ll have issues.
If we bottle-feed, they’ll have issues.
If we sleep train, they’ll have issues.
If we co-sleep, they’ll have issues.
If we play that gangsta rap shit all the time, they’ll have issues.
If we play that classical music shit all the time, they’ll have issues.
If we scold and nag and make demands, they’ll have issues.
If we let them set their own expectations, they’ll have issues.
Strict bedtime? Issues.
No bedtime? Issues.
Shower once a day even if they don’t want to? Issues.
Shower when they start to reek? Issues.
No dessert because sugar is satanic? Issues.
Here, have a cookie! And another! Yay cookies! Issues. Cookies! And issues.
Here’s the thing: My kids are high-spirited, powerful little loving empaths. My daughter has a penchant for social justice. My son has a wicked sense of humor. I look at them, and I know that they’re who they are because of who they are—a little bit from me, a little bit from their dad, which means a little bit from our sets of parents who raised us… and theirs… and theirs… and on down the line. A collection of blessings and burdens in the genes, and the choices we make on the fly.
And my kids can be little shits, too—for the same exact reasons.
And I know as they get older, their issues will grow, and they’ll blame me—or their dad, but usually they blame the mom for these things (I know, I did)—and they’ll complain to their friends and then their lovers and then their therapists about how they were fucked up as kids. (Because that’s what I did, too.)
We’re all screwed no matter what.
So have fun with it.
Because being a parent SHOULD be fun.
Yeah, it’s work—and it’s a crazy ton of grunt work and you’ll be covered in vomit and baby shit and—GOD FORBID—even blood sometimes. And DEFINITELY tears.
You’ll be worrying and exhausted and up all night holding your baby when she cries, and when she’s big and comes home crying after her heart gets smashed against the wall by her first love, you’ll be up all night, too, worrying about her and wishing it were simple and she was just a crying baby that you could sooth with just the sound of your beating heart.
You will be worrying and exhausted when he has his first fever, and you will be worrying and exhausted when he stays out all night.
Parenting is hard. And exhausting. And worth it—but still exhausting.
So, when you have a choice, do what YOU’LL enjoy:
If you want to breastfeed, breastfeed.
If you want to sleep-train, sleep-train.
If you want to homeschool, homeschool.
And if it isn’t working out, make the other choice.
Life is dynamic and sometimes unpredictable, and it’s OK to change course when what you’re doing doesn’t work.
Bottom line? Have fun with it—enjoy the absurdity when you can. Enjoy the moment when you can. Or kick the shit out of the moment when the moment sucks, and eat a cookie instead. Because each moment passes, and pretty soon, your kids will blaming you for everything wrong in their lives.
And then—blink—they’ll be parents themselves and they’ll realize just what we know now:
Our kids are going to get fucked up no matter what we do.
But they’re also going to be just fine, too.