December 19, 2014

Advice for Raising Children (or, That Time No One Read My Blog)

About a month ago, I wrote a blog post asking parents to pass along advice and "best practices" for raising kids. After receiving said advice, I planned to organize, summarize and "present" what was sent to me. The ultimate goal being to offer a handful of helpful suggestions to parents for how to raise their children. The impetus for this "project" began when my wife and I realize just how abundant the literature is for pregnancy (e.g., What to Expect When Your Expecting) but how few books there are for when the little one actually arrives (e.g. what to do when your son or daughter screams for six hours straight).



I've had some moderate success (if you can call it that) with a blog post along these lines--a few years back I solicited advice on marriage and got a good amount of responses--so I was optimistic about this little endeavor.

So I posted the "call for advice" ("Release the Hounds!" I yelped as I hit the "publish" button), then waited for responses. Within fifteen minutes I received my first response. "This is going to be a hit! I'm going viral!", I giddily thought to myself.

"I wonder who will offer the first book deal?"

"Maybe they'll get get Chris Hemsworth to play me in the movie about my life."

Me in the movie "The Life of Keith"


I opened up a spreadsheet so I could easily and efficiently start tracking the slew of advice that would surely be coming my way. 

Then I waited...

And waited...

And waited...

And waited...

And waited...

To date, I've received no other advice. Surely there's an explanation.

A. No one reads my blog. 
  • Although this is certainly the most likely scenario, my fragile ego won't allow me to entertain this thought for too long. 
B. People aren't comfortable giving advice to others for how to raise their children. It is, in a phrase, a "private matter."

Let's go with option "B."

It's interesting to me that everyone with a child has a philosophy, style or flavor in which they are raising their kids. 
  • Breast-feeding vs. formula
  • day care vs. a parent/loved one staying home
  • Michigan vs. Ohio State
  • clothe diapers vs. disposable 
  • Soccer vs. football
  • Etc.
Interestingly enough, the one piece of advice I did receive is as follows:
My #1 advice is to be wary of how much advice you read. It can make you paranoid You can find anything online and all of it contradicts, which is super unhelpful. Also, nobody else's kid is your kid so half of them probably don't apply to you anyway. 
Maybe this is the point (that admittedly was lost on me). There aren't scores of books written on the topic because no one knows how to raise your kid. My son Lukas loves books about ducks. But it'd be foolish for me to assume that all 11.5-month olds love books about ducks.

In this particular book, Little Quack is learning to count
Yet, I know I've still wished seasoned parents would share some nuggets of truth with me--I still feel like I have no clue what I'm doing. I would suggest the best way forward is to share advice, but perhaps preface it with the phrase, "Take it or leave it, but with our son/daughter we..."

Obvious? Yes. But do we do it?

Rarely.

This, of course, is problematic for my book deal and the Aaron Sorkin directed movie based on my life as a parent (it'd be whimsical and witty with threads of profound critiques of society and culture). But alas, I suppose my fame and celebrity must derive from elsewhere.

Like...the stay-at-home dad blogger...

Someone get me Penguin Books on the phone.










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