Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Do My Wife and I Have a Parenting Philosophy? Not Sure

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Do My Wife and I Have a Parenting Philosophy? Not Sure

Article excerpt

WARNING: This diary contains annoying parental bragging. Not to mention that it steps all over the third-rail of social conversation: parenting. (The other two being religion and politics).

Our elder son just got home yesterday from his first semester at a faraway college. He loves it - engaging profs, new friends, beautiful campus, great sports. He's a good student and a nice guy. The same can be said of his younger brother, a high school sophomore.

With our firstborn having left the nest and now back, it got me wondering why he and his brother have turned out pretty well, at least so far. (Get annoyed here.)

Did their mom and I have much to do with it? We'll take credit, but who knows? Their genes, dumb luck, their extended families, influential teachers, the crowd they've ended up hanging around with - all of these things may have as much or more to do with it. Any one of them at some tipping point might have screwed them up, too.

It's hard to know because a lot of parents are smarter, more patient, more thoughtful and all around better at the job than we are, yet their kids are seriously troubled or out of control. My mom and dad, for instance, were wise and loving, yet I caused them a world of hurt well into my 20s.

The opposite is also true: Some parents seem utterly clueless, or even mean-spirited, yet their kids turn out great - hardworking, considerate, all the things you'd want a kid to be. Go figure.

But one of the things that's surprised me as a parent is that I've actually become a parent - meaning that my wife and I have established some rules, some principles, maybe even a philosophy of parenting, though I would have no idea what to call it.

We didn't come up with these notions out of whole cloth, of course. We've cobbled them together by remembering our own childhoods, by seeking advice from other parents, by reading parenting articles, by keeping our eyes open, sometimes by bitter experience.

I guess that's what all parents do. We make it up, or borrow it, as we go along.

So now, for whatever it's worth to anybody else, and knowing that many parents will disagree with most of this, and knowing that we often fail to follow our own advice, I offer some rules and practices that have worked for us - at least so far.

Get lucky: For example, it's turned out that my wife and I agree on how to parent. We've seen what can happen when it doesn't. Work it out.

Get luckier: Make sure your kids get close to people who help keep them sane and steer them well.

Men: Take on child care from the start. I'm convinced I'm closer to my boys because I was the one who got them out of bed in the night to take them to my wife for breast-feeding. This started accidentally because she'd had C-sections and couldn't move much without pain the first month or so after giving birth. …

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