Dear Father Hood: do you think like a parent?
Wow, what a deep, interesting and multi-layered question. I mean, is there one way that all parents supposed to think? And if there is, is this parenting mentality absolute, or can it be tweaked depending on your circumstances?
We’re getting into extremely philosophical and highbrow waters here people, so I think it might be best if I ease the tension with one of my favourite dad jokes.
Q. What was Whitney Houston’s favourite form of co-ordination?
A: Haaaaaaaaaannnnnnnnnndddddddd Eeeeeeeyyyyyyeeeeeeee! (Note: it really helps if you sing this line.)
Good, isn’t it?
Now we’re all a tad more relaxed, let’s get back to the query re: whether I ‘think like a parent’. Given my son is nearing two-and-a-half, I would hope the answer to be yes. But if I’m totally honest, I think it’s no. I say this for many reasons, including the following three.
1. I’m not one of those super-parents
You know exactly who I’m talking about. The mums who always have a spare set of every possible type of clothing and time to make three different varieties of sandwiches. The dads who always manage to maintain eye contact with you, yet also always manage to catch their kid before he or she hits her head on the ground. The people who somehow manage to feed, bath, dress, toilet train and entertain multiple kids, without getting stressed or angry. The adults who bought their car because it was recommended for parents and always get to nursery on time.
These God-like men and women put my parental planning and foresight to shame, and my hunch is that they achieve what they achieve because they spend every waking hour ‘thinking like a parent’.
2. I take my son into London a lot
I don’t think this is weird. But most parents I speak to seem to find any excuse to not go near the nation’s capital. Here’s how our conversations usually go down.
“You’re going into London?! Isn’t that a really expensive day out?” they ask.
“It can be, but it can also be cheap or even free,” I reply.
“And isn’t it really busy?” they continue.
“It can be, but that’s good as it gives my son more to see,” I reply.
“And isn’t the London underground really bad for steps?” they add.
“It can be, but people usually offer to help,” I reply.
“Hmm, sounds like a bit of an effort, I’ll probably just head to the park,” they shrug.
I know who is right in this scenario (me), but I also know who doesn’t fit in with the prevalent parent mentality (me). And thus I have no option but to conclude that I don’t think like the average parent.
3. My first thought is often: ‘What do I want to do?’
As in you put yourself before your kid? Yes. This may get me in trouble on some parenting message board or other, but the honest truth is in just about every situation my initial thought revolves around which option is best for me.
What happens next? Well, then I go and do what I want to do and catch up with my wife and son later. Stop jeering, I’m only joking. In actual fact, I suppress this thought and seamlessly move on to thinking about which option would be good for the whole family.
So what’s the problem? I’m not saying there is a problem. I’m simply suggesting that my natural instinct is to think about myself rather than my wife and kids, which, to me, suggests that I don’t yet possess the parent mentality.
Acting more important than thinking
And does not possessing the parent mentality bother me? It does and it doesn’t.
Sure, like all good dads, I’d like to reach the parenting level where I unconsciously put my wife and son first on all occasions, but let’s face it: how I act is far more important than what I think. Thus if I continue to do the right things for my family, then I don’t see any problem with me internally projecting selfish suggestions (aside from the huge dollops of parental guilt, obvs).
What about you guys? Do you think I should be concerned? Have you aced parenting to such an extent that you always think like a parent? Or are you in a similar boat to myself? I’d love to hear your thoughts, views and tips, so please comment below.
Until next time…