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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