5 Well-Meaning Rules New Parents Will See Blown To Hell

5 Well-Meaning Rules New Parents Will See Blown To Hell

We've talked before about lies parents swear they'll never tell their kids but end up telling anyway because kids are so easy to lie to. But what about more sympathetic victims, the parents themselves? Parents tell themselves lies all the time -- I know because I am one, and am as mind-bogglingly self-delusional a person as they come.

Join me, won't you, on a trip through the shadowy fields of self-deception.

I Won't Let My Kid Do ...

You've got an idea about what it means to be a functioning human being, and the kind of behaviors that are acceptable or not for your kid to display. You might be wrong, but that's beside the point; your kid sure won't know, and you've got the legal and moral responsibility to impress that shit on them anyways. Which means when you see your kids demonstrating those unacceptable behaviors, you'll put a stop to it. No hitting your brother, no throwing books, no seizing the means of production. Simple, right?

Why You're Lying To Yourself

The problem with that is it's not enough to correct a child's behavior once. They're not smart like a robot or a carp or anything. I would estimate, based on my own experience raising two damned rambunctious boys, that it takes one thousand fucking corrections for them to understand not to do something. They will seize the means of production so many times no matter how often I tell them not to, I need that. The process is so long and exhausting that you don't even really notice when it's over; by the time they finally learn whatever lesson you've been trying to teach them, you'll be enraged by whatever new thing they're fucking up. Speaking ancient, forbidden tongues or whatever.

Anyways, because it takes so long, and their disobedience will occasionally catch you at a moment of complete exhaustion, you will sometimes let it slide. A threatened punishment becomes an angry stare becomes a collapse into the couch. This is bad, the kind of inconsistent pattern which confuses your kids and breeds terrorism. But being tired is actually worse, so ... this'll happen.

Just don't kid yourself in advance is my main advice. On some days your child will be a shitlord and you'll be basically OK with it.

I Won't Let It Affect My ...

Some of my friends had kids before I did, and I always felt really happy seeing them out doing regular-people activities with the rest of us after they had kids. Drinking beers and yelling and such. "Good for them," I'd whisper to myself. "Even with kids, you still gotta live your regular life. I'm gonna do that too when my time comes to pass from the realm of regular people." And then everyone would look at me strangely and yell and I'd go home.

Almost every new or prospective parent seems to do this, because it just sounds so reasonable. How hard could it possibly be to incorporate your kids into your old hobbies?

Why You're Lying To Yourself

Hahahahahhaha, no.

First, here's what's going to happen to the time you used to use for your regular activities. Your kids will consume 95 percent of what you previously considered free time, and also about 40 percent of the time you'd previously dedicated to activities like grooming and sleep, and then another 85 percent of time that didn't even exist until you had kids. This probably depends on the age of kids -- mine I think are still getting younger? -- but for a good long while, imagine you have about 10 percent of the free time you once had. That won't be too far off.

Now, that's not nothing! You can still do fun regular-person activities with that time, or find ways to fold your kids into those activities. But you won't be able to do a lot of it. Watching entire seasons of television will seem incredibly exotic. The movie industry will leave you behind like a rotting corpse (are zombie movies still big? I sincerely don't know.) If drinking beer and yelling is important to you, you'll still do that; but you'll be home before seven, or only do it twice a year, or almost never steal a cop's gun anymore.

There's a bigger issue beyond just time. Regular-people activities will simply be less attractive to you in a way that's hard to understand before you become a parent. You will be entirely happy spending days on end reading very short books and fighting about underpants. Ok, not happy, just con- no, it's not content either. It's something though. Huh.


I think this is called Love but I can't claim to have reviewed all the literature on the subject, seeing as I haven't read a book more than 12 pages long in a couple years. Let's put a pin in Love for now though.

I'll Feed Them Nothing But ...

I'm fairly easy-going about diets; left to my own devices, I eat a bit like a raccoon. But even I understand the importance of healthy habits. You set your kid up with a good foundation, and they'll grow up big and strong and one day destroy you. It's what every parent dreams.

So in my house we tend to give the kids fruits, veggies, grains. Not too much sugar. Only fair trade snake blood. And because kids are little habit sponges, this has to be a whole-family thing; I have to lead by example. I try not to shotgun cans of coke around them anymore at least.

I do that in the toilet, like my father before me.

Why You're Lying To Yourself

Have I mentioned the exhaustion yet? FOLKS, IT'S A FACTOR, FOLKS. Because you'll be working and parenting a solid 63 hours a day, and pizza tastes so good and it's so easy, yeah, your grand plans about diets and home-cooked meals every day will occasionally evaporate.

In truth, this is kind of a broad category, because it can apply to so many decisions you make about how you'll raise your kid. The amount of screentime they get, or active play they're forced to do, or length of time they can wear pajamas; you've got well-founded ideas about what's reasonable or legal for all of those things, and you will cave the fuck in on at least one of them nearly every day, simply because children are relentless and you're fat and slow from all the pizza.

I guess the main thing is to do the best you can, and maybe get the pizza company to block your calls. And stop beating yourself up so much. Parenting's tough. Because of that, you truly mean it when you say ...

I Won't Judge Other Parents And Their Kids

As you get into parenting a bit and realize just how damned hard it is, you'll develop a lot more sympathy for other parents. A screaming child in a restaurant is a mild annoyance to most of the customers, but it's only the latest in a day of grievous emotional wounds for his or her parents. And if you happen to witness this during one of the rare serene moments you get with your own kids, you'll swear to yourself not to ever judge or look down on another parent's failings again.

Why You're Lying To Yourself

You will judge the shit out of every parent you see. The parents who give their kids way too much sugar are deadbeats, but the ones who don't give their kids enough sugars are bound-up assholes. The parents who let their kids climb up the slide, or the parents who don't let their kids climb up the slide -- one of these groups will irritate you out of your actual skin. The parents who take their kids to nice restaurants are monsters, but so are the parents who take their kids to breweries.

I take my kids to breweries all the time, actually. It's fine. They're cool.

The breweries, that is. The kids aren't too cool yet.

The problem is that every decision another parent makes which isn't identical to yours is effectively a refutation of your parenting techniques. It suggests this person doesn't think you are raising your kids the right way. Can you believe they implied that? About MY delightful boys?

Vayse, Cromwell, put down your sugar right now. We're going to the brewery.

I Won't Become My Mother/Father

Even if you have a good relationship with your parents, you're still probably a little resistant to the idea of actually becoming one of them. It just feels wrong -- for all their qualities, they are clearly the least cool people on Earth. As we become teenagers, a huge part of how we define ourselves is on how we differ from our parents. We'll pride ourselves on our differences and say to ourselves, "I'm not going to wear socks with sandals," or, "I'm going to understand how text messages work," or "I'm not going to be able to afford a house." Things like that.

And for many years, we're right. We're not like our parents! We do cool things like drink beers and yell. And even if that trails off a bit when we have kids, there's no way we'd actually become them. Right?

Why You're Lying To Yourself

Parenting involves a lot of situations you're not going to foresee, things no parenting book or nature documentary about baby penguins will prepare you for. Small things, mainly, and not even bad ones. Like what you'll say or do when your kid makes something cool out of Lego, or throws some food against the wall, or praises ISIS. You will find that in these unexpected situations your immediate, instinctive reaction will spookily mirror whatever your parents did with you. You'll catch yourself giving the same nicknames or praise your parents gave you, or delivering the same punishments. "Attaboy, tiger," or climbing up on the counter and jumping down on them just like mom used to.

You weren't able to see this for most of your adult life to date, having defined yourself by your familiarity with technology, or your deeply sexual nature: aspects you never saw in your own parents. Clearly you were a different person from them! But once your own kids roll along you'll realize that your very idea of what it means to be a parent comes from one very specific source: your own parents. You are them, and they are you, and you are about to become very, very lame as a result.

You can remain deeply sexual though; that's fine. They always hid that from you.

Chris Bucholz is a Cracked columnist and if proud of all of you, tiger. As the author of the amazing novels, Freeze/Thaw and Severance he thinks you should definitely go buy both of those now. Join him on Facebook or Twitter.

For more check out 5 Parental Dick Moves You Hate (Until You're a Parent) and 5 Mistakes Made by Every New Parent.

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