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A parenting editor does not necessarily a good parent make

January 24, 2011 - Betsy Bethel
As the editor of a parenting magazine, I try to read all the parenting articles, tips and books that cross my desk or screen. It seems there's always something new to learn about child development, behavior modification, parenting skills, nutrition, sleep needs and on and on.

I love reading and writing about this stuff. But that's easy. Putting it into practice is another story. And it seems no matter how full my parenting tool shed is, I still find myself ill-equipped to handle some of my 4-year-old daughter's more outrageous behaviors. Like the time last summer at Outback Steakhouse when she sprinted around the dining room, all but sending trays of Kookaburra Wings flying. Or at the family Christmas party when she took one look at the Wii game her big brother gave her and Frisbee-tossed it, calling it "stupid." Or just last week when she went all Emmazilla at preschool.

It's painful to see behaviors you thought your child licked come back to bite you. These are the times I want to lock myself in the tool shed and throw away the key. I think I could live there happily for quite some time. I wouldn't starve: I read somewhere that books and magazines are great sources of fiber, and color ink boosts the immune system. Maybe I could spend my days penning my own book, titled "The Cowardly Hymn of the Ostrich Mother."

But, kidding aside, how do we recover from these parenting setbacks? Remembering the following two adages usually gets me back on my feet again:

1. You are not alone. Every parent has days when she wants to bury her head in the sand. Do I think mine is the first kid who ever ran laps through a restaurant? Or strong-armed a classmate? Or displayed an ungrateful attitude? She's not, and neither is your kid. Don't be embarrassed or ashamed. Talk about it. Listen to your friends' stories and commiserate over a glass of wine or a latte. That's why I write about my daughter's antics and my struggles, so you'll know you are not alone. Some day, she's going to sue me over this stuff. But hey, glad I could help! And someone bring me a Merlot!

2. This too shall pass. Whether it's the ravenous newborn, the teething infant, the rampaging toddler, the sassy preschooler, the insolent school-ager or the moody tween, they will not stay that way forever. And you'll miss them when they grow up and leave! Take it one day at a time, cherish the positives, and you will get through it.

Oh, and it's still a good idea to have an arsenal of parenting tools in the shed. See the links at right. You never know when they might come in handy. :)

(Bonnie Harris featured a brief (and yes, embarrassing) anecdote I submitted in today's edition of her Connective Parenting Q&As. If you click the link at right and scroll down, it's labeled Story and starts out "On Christmas night...")


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