It never ceases to amaze me how many people write to me for actual parenting advice.
Now don't get me wrong. I'm genuinely flattered that someone would cherish my opinion on such an important subject. In fact, I'm generally just happy when I hear that people are actually thinking about parenting.
On the other hand, I have no background in pediatrics or child psychology. Sure, I've got a semi-popular daddy blog but isn't asking me for parenting advice kind of like asking Hugh Laurie for medical advice just because he plays a doctor on TV?
Anyway, whenever someone writes me for parenting advice, I usually do take the time to answer them seriously. However, I tend to have a very laid-back approach to parenting so I don't worry about a lot of the little things that might bother other people. On the other hand, I'm also the same guy who read every parenting and baby book ever written in English when he found out he was going to be a father.
I figure that anyone who takes time out of their day to write me a serious e-mail about parenting deserves a serious answer. However, most of the time, these are the replies that I really want to send...
I've been breastfeeding for only a few weeks now and it's extremely painful. Am I doing something wrong?
Don't suck so hard.
Is it true breastfeeding helps you lose baby weight?
I gained about 15 pounds of sympathy weight during my wife's pregnancy. I tried breastfeeding but it felt like I was living off some sort of weird vanilla ice cream diet. I really didn't lose the baby weight until I started eating salad and working out.
Seriously now, MD. When is a child too old to breast feed?
When they're old enough to ask for it.
Don't get me wrong. I'm a strong advocate of breast feeding but some of those lactation activists need to chill out. I have a friend who breastfed her daughter until she was FIVE. It was unnerving to watch this fully-grown little girl come up to her mother and say, "Mama, may I please have some breast milk? I'm hungry."
Hell, my daughter is four. When she comes up to me and says she's hungry, I tell her to go to the kitchen and make herself a sandwich!
My child is a fussy eater. What should I do?
Nothing upsets me more than when I spend 45 minutes cooking dinner for my daughter and she refuses to eat it.
However, if I've learned one thing in my 4 years of parenting, it's that kids love games. So I made up a really fun game for my daughter. It's called "Eat It or Wear It." Either she eats all the food on her plate or I smush it all over her face. I know it sounds cruel but we've only had to play the game once!
Actually, in all seriousness, there was a brief moment when the Peanut was a fussy eater. When we asked our laid-back French pediatrician what we should do, he said, "Zoot alors! She ees not going to starve to death, n'est-ce pas? Do not worry so much, silly American!"
Despite the fact that the remarks came from a Frenchman, his words actually turned out to be perfect advice. If Peanut starts getting fussy about her food, I don't stress. I just throw her dinner in the fridge and give it to her for lunch the next day. Nobody ever died from skipping a meal or two.
At least not in this country.
My child poops in the bathtub constantly! How can I stop him from doing this?
Ewww. That is so freaking gross. I just got a mental image of that and had to toss my lunch into the garbage. That's the last time I'm eating baked falafel. Thanks!
As usual, I have no advice but I do have a good story...
In the heat of a race, hardcore sailors often piss in their pants so they don't lose any precious time. When they have to take a dump, they just grab the boom, lean their asses over the boat, and just poop over the side of the deck. The floating poop is referred to as a "sea pickle."
When my buddy Stan was a little kid, he once pooped in the bathtub. Just once. That was the only time. However, his dad thought it was so funny, he gave Stan the nickname of "Sea Pickle." Unfortunately, the nickname stuck.
Forty years later, Stan is not only a grown man but also the head of a major European media company. He speaks four languages fluently and has thousands of people reporting to him. However, every time he goes home to his parents, none of that matters.
He'll always be mommy and daddy's little "Sea Pickle."
What should you do if your son likes to wear girl's clothing?
Jeez, Dad. That was like 30 years ago. Let it go already. I told you it was just an experiment!
Is it ok to like one of your children more than the other?
I know it's politically incorrect to say that you love one child over another. They're all "special" in their own little way, right? Bullshit! I've spoken to many parents about this and they've told me the same thing over and over again. Their favorite child, at any given time, is the one who is busting their chops the least.
If I ever have more kids, I intend to rank my love for them on a daily basis. I'm going to put a big chart up on the kitchen refrigerator and have them all compete to see who earns the majority of my love. All kids love a little competition, right?
Heck, I'll even give them pep talks to boost their morale. "C'mon, Mikey. You're in third place. You've got to step it up big time! Let's go, go, GO!"
How do you know if you are ready to become a parent?
I've said it a thousand times on this blog already.
Parenting is the most important job on the planet next to keeping Lindsay Lohan off the nation's highways. If you're not sure you're ready for it, you're probably not. That doesn't necessarily mean that you'll ever feel truly ready for being a parent but if you're thinking that "the whole parenting thing" might cut into your Tuesday-Friday bowling league or those weekly binge-drinking nights down at the pub, you might want to hold off before pulling the goalie.
Parenting is hard work.
It's not a part-time job. You're either in it or you're not. In order to be a good parent, you've got to commit as much time, love and wisdom as you possibly can to these tiny humans. Even when they're screaming their heads off and redecorating their bedrooms with flying poop, you've got to keep your cool.
After all, let's face it. Kids are a lot of responsibility. I often think that some people should start off a little lower on the responsibility ladder before working their way up to having a kid. You know, start off getting something a little easier, like a job. Or a dog. Or three days sober in a row. And then, if you can handle that, work your way up to the care and responsibility of another human being.
Look, I'm not saying that I'm a perfect parent but I like to think that I can stare between the stars into the blackness of heaven and say with a smile on my face, "I'll do anything and everything to be a good parent."
When you can say that, you're on your way towards being ready for parenthood.
First, get yourself a copy of "Finding Nemo." Watch it 50 times. Pour spoiled milk all over your favorite shirt. Trash the inside of your car so it looks like a war zone. Wipe your boogers with only a finger. Eat all your meals standing over the sink. Now deprive yourself of sleep for about a year.
Ok, NOW you're ready!