Being a parent can be really tough sometimes, but it's worth remembering that we only have ourselves to blame for introducing some of those difficulties! This is a truism I recently re-visited after being reminded of US comedian Louis CK.
Comedian Louis CK is a divorced father of two daughters and much of his comedy centres on being a parent, how difficult it can be and how you need to think and behave like a grown-up. The guy is funny which is why he's so popular. But a lot of what he says is really relevant when you're trying to be a responsible parent who's serious about bringing up good children who will turn into kind, thoughtful bright and hard-working adults. As I'm sure I'm not alone in wanting to have grown-up children with these traits, I thought it would be useful to share my take on some points Louis has raised during his comedy career so far.
Make rules and stick to them
As a divorced single parent with shared custody, Louis has his daughters for half of every week. As a comedian he could potentially be travelling for filming and work commitments and need to adapt his schedule for spending time with his children. He doesn't. Instead, when he first became a single parent he said he made a decision to always be there for his girls when it was his part of the week to have them.
Yes he has turned down some job offers that involved being away for a month or more at a time, but he's stuck to his rule and has worked hard at finding a working schedule that suits his lifestyle.
Whilst managing your working life in a way that suits your commitments isn't always easy, by creating a rule and sticking to it you can make your decisions easier. How is this relevant for me? I'm a work from home mum because I made the decision that I want to spend time with my kids every day, I want to be the one who takes them to childcare and school and picks them up and gives them their dinner. It's not always easy, but I know there are lots of people who would like to be able to have what I have and I cherish my everyday time with my family.
These firm rules don't have to centre around work though - if it's important you then make a rule and stick to it - only drinking water, bedtime at 730pm only 60 minutes TV a day, etc. Part of being a parent is having rules, and sticking to them - that means you as well as your kids.
Try to give your kids real, nutritional food
For me this doesn't mean no sugar or Maccy D's. What it does mean is that they eat a few portions of fruit and veg every day, have real healthy food that I make myself and also drink lots of water.
Louis CK puts it in a slightly more offensive, although much funnier way. But when he's berating parents for shouting at their kids for going crazy after they've filled them with processed food and fizzy drinks during their early years he's making a valid and sort of obvious point!
Teach your children early that life isn't always fair
When his daughter comes to him saying it's not fair that her sister or someone else has more or something different (better) than her, he deadpans that life isn't fair, he isn't going to change the current situation and she needs to accept both those realities. And he's right! Life isn't always fair so sometimes we have to just accept the situation, make the best of it and move on.
For me, this regularly comes up when we're walking the dog. My kids love walking the family pet and when we're all out they take it in turns the whole way. Sometimes though, one child is at a playdate, a club, doing homework etc and the other child gets to walk the dog the whole way round without having to share. The next time both kids are there for the dog walk, the one who missed out last time wants to take the dog round the whole way without sharing. Of course I tell them "no, we share like we always do" which leads to cries of "it's not fair!". Depending on how I'm feeling I tell them they will get their turn and to stop shouting as they're upsetting me and the dog, or I go all Louis CK on them "life isn't always fair and there's not a lot I can do about it." We eventually go on our walk, the children take turns and all is well and hopefully this early lesson in the indiscriminate lack of fairness will take root and prepare them for future, much harsher, instances.
He has a lot more interesting and useful insights but these three are among my favourites. Take a look and see if there are any that might work for you?
When Laura isn't watching comedy on YouTube, she's writing on raising healthy, happy kids at Posh Tiger. You can even find the 29 worst kids haircuts EVER there.