Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Not ALL Fun and Games

Parenting can be Super hard at times
I know that I have a certain voice with this blog.   I tend to blog mostly about all the fun I have with Lukas as a first time father.  About the cute things Lukas says, or the poignancy and humor I experience as the parent of a now 3 year old boy. I do this because that is what my take away is.  I love being a parent, and really do enjoy spending time with Lukas. 

But, of course as all parents are well aware the exercise of raising children is by far the hardest endeavor we will ever undertake.  To put it another way, this is hard work people.  If you are a parent, you already know that.  And although I don't often blog about it, there are a lot of aspects of being a dad which I would certainly rather not have to face.  I just choose not to make them a primary focus here.

All that being said, I thought I'd take this opportunity to list, from my perspective, a few of the more challenging aspect of raising a 3 year old. If nothing else, to prove that I can talk about the difficulties as well as the good stuff.  Yes, there are others as well, but these immediately come to mind.  They will probably even sound familiar to most of you as they are hardly unique to my experience.
Making Sure He Gets Enough Sleep -  I once read that the most significant benefit to the mental development of young children was making sure they got enough sleep.  Every since Lukas was born Mrs. LIAYF and I go out of our way to ensure that Lukas gets the proper amount of rest. That includes giving him the opportunity to nap every day, and getting him to bed at a decent hour each night.  We have done pretty well so far with this, and consider ourselves fortunate that he has only failed to nap once or twice.   Still, sleep is always an issue and recently bedtime has often become a struggle to get him to stay in bed. (Sound familiar?) When he doesn't, he can have a rough following day.

Providing Consistent Discipline - Holy smokes 3 year olds can be super cute.  This is especially true when they are asking you to consider reversing one of your disciplinary decisions.  Trying to provide a consistent message in the face of "Please Daddy, I won't do that ANYMORE."  is usually a no win situation.  I give in a lot more than I know I should, but when I have to hold firm I find it one of the hardest things I've ever dealt with. 

Dealing With Bad Dreams - Lukas has an extremely active imagination.  It's not surprising to me that this manifests itself in the form of scary dreams.  Mrs. LIAYF and I do our best to assure him that there are no monsters hiding under his bed at night.  And when he asks "Well, what if there are?" we just assure him that if there ever were, they would certainly be the good kind.  It's tough to deal with those middle of the night wake-up cries.  More for how how it scares him than the amount of sleep I lose.

Teaching Him Proper Stranger Caution - Our son is an extremely social person.  He has been since he was born.  And while it is adorable to see him say hello to strangers, often bringing smiles to their faces, we also have to teach him to have the proper amount of caution when it comes to people he doesn't know.  We have to consistently let him know that it's only ok to talk to strangers when he is with a trusted adult.  He actually said to Mrs. LIAYF the other day "I can only talk to a stranger if I know they are nice, right?"  To which she had to say no, it is more complicated than that.  That bad people can pretend to be nice so he should only talk to an adult he doesn't know if he is with one who he does.

Dealing With Rejection - This one is probably the toughest for me to navigate as a father.  As I mentioned, Lukas is an outgoing boy and prone to be a leader type (a bit bossy).  Naturally, this can come across as a bit much to some of the other kids who, at the 3-4 age will simply let you know that 'you can't play with us', or 'you are not my friend'.  Of course, kids at this age are fickle and who is a friend one week, is not the next and he is no exception to this rule.  But with Lukas, we can tell how much it really hurts him if he is excluded.  Trying to explain the intricacies of such behavior to him in a way that helps him to understand and also makes him feel better, is a very difficult process.

There you have it.  The aspects of parenting which I find most difficult at this juncture.  I'm sure they will change and evolve as my skills and experiences as a parent do as well.  They don't at all tarnish the joy I get from being a dad, they are simply part of the package.

How about you readers?  What are the most difficult aspects of parenting you face on a daily basis?

By the way, I have been nominated to be on the Circle of Moms Top Daddy Blogger list.  I have installed a button on the right sidebar.  If you like the blog, I would appreciate it if you would take the time to cast a vote for me.  Voting can be done daily, and ends April 4th.


triles said...

Just voted for you my man-your blog is definitely one of the better Dad blogs out there.

The hardest thing for me is remaining calm when I discipline. I sometimes let anger get the best of me, and that feels terrible later. It's hard when the girls do something I've talked with them about, multiple times, but I'm working on maintaining my composure in those situations.

Playstead said...

My issue of the week is fighting my 12 year old daughter about wearing mascara. She thinks it's fun and I put the hammer down. It seems the issues get deeper and more complex as they get older.

Barbara L said...

You have seen the enemy (the challenges) and you will be victorious. Well, ok, you will win most of the time. Who am I kidding, you will do the same thing we all do, look back and say, I did my best. Enjoyed this post.

Steve said...

I sympathise on all of those. Oliver, now 5, is also a strong character (bossy) and similarly has to deal with rejection when his games aren't adopted by his peers, but he seems to be getting better at it.

Anonymous said...

Everything you said plus manners. My child will have manners if it kills me.

SciFi Dad said...

We struggle with sleep and discipline too (for both kids). We're also dealing with emotional meltdowns (possibly related to overtiredness sometimes) with both.

B said...

Those are definitely major parent hurdles for the 3 yr old stage.

I have almost 7 yr old twins and a 4.5yr old and our current pull your hair out and cry issues include, emotional meltdowns (I agree with this being related to the sleep issue), the need for positive attitudes, learning to speak up for themselves and with our 4 yr old, it's explaing that he's not 7 no matter how hard he tries to be.

Actually, now that I am typing this response it's got my thinking wheel turning and I am going to steal your idea and blog about the dark side of parenting as well.

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery so I hope you won't mind!

Anonymous said...

You got my vote brother. Manners is definitely a must-have. That and compassion for your fellow man.

James (SeattleDad) said...

@Tim - Thanks, that's a great thing to hear. I really dig your site as well.

@Craig - Wow, not sure how I would handle that kind of situation. Having a girl seems so foreign to me, much less a teenage girl.

@Barbara - Thanks. Noboby has all the answers. We just need to make the best decisions we can as situations present themselves.

@Steve - That's how they learn.

@PJ - Good for you. Many kids don't these days.

@Scifi - Mrs. LIAYF and I were just talking about that. It's amazing how quickly Lukas circles the drain when he is tired. Sleep is key.

@B - Thanks for stopping by. I need to get over to your site and check that out. I'm sure it must be up now, as slow to respond as I am.

@DC - Thanks. Manners have always served me well, as has empathy. Great things to teach our kids.