I’ll just go ahead and warn some of the readers right now – this is going to offend/hurt/insult some of you. That doesn’t mean I’m wrong.
What am I talking about?
It’s not real parenting if you only have one child.
Parents of 2 or more children honestly believe this about other parents of single children. Don’t take it personally (if you are said parent), we like you. We think you are nice and neat. In fact, we are extremely jealous that you will more than likely come out of parenting some what sane and normal, perhaps keep your ‘cool’ level. But we know for a fact that you nowhere near deal with the same issues as the rest of us.
To be fair, there is about a 2-3 year window on this rule. Meaning, if you have a newborn and it’s your first one – you get a pass. Everything is new, you spend half the time worrying about what is wrong with your baby because they are asleep. You spend the other half of the time worrying about your baby because they are awake. It happens to us all.
After this grace period and another child is added, parenting for the single child becomes SIGNIFICANTLY easier. If something is broken in the house, you know who did it. If somebody ate the last piece of cake, you know who ate it. If there is a ding on the car, a stopped up toilet, a broken window, unfinished chore – you know where to go.
You don’t have to deal with sibling rivalry.
You don’t have to keep track of what movies you allowed what kid to watch at what age.
You don’t have to monitor who’s turn is it to sit in front seat. To pick radio stations. To watch the big TV. To do the dishes. To mow the lawn.
Are you getting the picture?
You will never hear the war cry “You let her do it when she turned 13.” Or “Why are the rules different for me!”
You won’t have to give the speech of why siblings are important, why we all go to their games, musicals, concerts, and events. You don’t have to juggle which parent is going to pick up which child at what school.
You never have to figure out another parenting style either. Or wrestle with why one method works with one out what makes this one motivated? Or will it be sports or the arts or crafts or mechanical things that interest them?
You won’t have to give “The Talk” multiple times.
You probably are going to survive parenting and maintain your sanity and your cool factor. We won’t. We will definitely lose one, potential both.
I’ve come up with another one…
It’s not real parenting if you don’t have girls.*
Raising girls is a different universe than raising boys. Every aspect of it is completely, uniquely, singularly different. Financially – I’m not even going to unpack that. Partly because I’ll just get depressed and never finish this post and wake up in the fetal position in some dark alley with a missing kidney.
For every girl in the house, the drama factor exponentially increases. It’s not a simple 1:1 or 1:2 ratio. There are so many variables in play. Such as swimsuit season, tryout season, quality of hair day, which friends are still friends, “that time” issues, sleep deprivation, make-up issues, ‘in-the-know’ issues.
If none of this makes sense to you – consider yourself blessed. The rest of us are starting to shake and looking for our happy place.
Being a boy, conflict resolution has always been fairly straight-forward. Have a conflict. Argue about it. Fight. Get in trouble. Play basketball with each other. Become good friends. One of my best friends in middle school was a guy that I got suspended from school fighting. I can’t even remember why we were fighting but years later we ran into each other and we laughed about it.
That would NEVER happen with a girl. She would know exactly what was said, when, how it was said and where it happened. They would remember every detail and could recall it in an instant.
Boys tease each other all the time. It’s what we do. It’s a sign of respect. And we do it to your face in front of as many people as possible for the biggest laughs. At the end of the day, it’s all good. You give it out, you take it and everybody is good. I went three years in high school being called “Rambis” (from Kurt Rambis from the Lakers). Every teammate called me that. We had Blink, Scoot, Fro, LP, and Snot – which was short for SnotRocket which is what he would do every now and then. I know – gross – but it’s what we did and he loved the nickname anyway.
Girls can be vicious. Nonsensical, heartless, Relentlessly vicious. The scathing comments about weight, clothes, make-up, boyfriends, lack of boyfriends, social status, socio-economic status, food you eat, purses, phone brands – the list is endless. Raising girls who value character and substance over all this other crap has probably been the single hardest thing about parenting.
Social media has only made this more difficult as our culture seems to invent new ways to celebrate shallow things. Every Disney star, every chick-flick, every song – they all preach the exactly wrong message. Beauty is what counts. What you weigh is more important that what you think. Manipulation is how you get ahead, not hard work or insight. Wait on a man to rescue you/make you complete/love you.
Praise God for Frozen and Brave. If you are raising girls – make them watch these two movies. Over and over.
Here’s what completely crazy about the situation, girls can not only be 50 times more heartless than guys, but they are also 50 times more sensitive. It’s a deadly mix – being ruthless with words and ultra-sensitive to their powers – that gets played out every day in their friendships. They say insensitive things to their friends, are shocked when they get upset about it, come home crying when something is said to them. It’s a vicious cycle.
It happens to parents as well. What dad or mom hasn’t heard these words – “You are the worst parent ever!” “You are making my life miserable.” “Nobody else’s parents are as strict as you!” You’ll be tempted to respond. With a quick wit and a virtually unlimited arsenal of sarcastic replies at your disposal – you will be tempted. Just don’t do it. Don’t fall for the trap! Any word you say will forever written down in the memory banks and no quarter will be given.
But I wouldn’t change it. Would I like less drama? Less mean people in my kids’ life? Less hard stuff?
Yes. Yes. Yes.
But is it possible to develop strong, deep kids without struggle? Without hard stuff? I feel the struggle as a parent in wanting to protect my kids from everything that is hard and painful. But hard and painful isn’t always bad. Sometimes it’s just hard … and painful.
There is a verse that for the longest time, I really didn’t understand.
2 Peter 3:18
But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
I get it better now. To grow in grace and the experiential knowledge of Jesus is the transformation process of being in a relationship with Jesus. And there are times when transformation – the process of growing grace in us – is painful.
I’ve learned more, been changed more, and have loved deeper because of my role as a parent. So that is what I wouldn’t change.
And the laughter always trumps the tears.