I’m back, sort of!

Wow, strep throat is a horrible thing. And Prednisone is a drug I'd never though much of, but now have a very healthy respect for. I'm very energetic. And perky. And unable to sleep (three hours the first night, seven max each since even with being very vigilant). I'm stepping down from it now.

One of the side effects of the Prednisone is that I'm slightly cranky and have no filter. Which doesn't lend itself well to writing answers to any questions from parents with problems they'd like help with. So today we're going to open it up to you all, so I don't stick my foot in it and make someone feel bad.

The topic is navigating the border of being a buttinski or helping when someone you know is having a parenting issue that they can't figure out but is, to you, a straight line. The specific scenario I'm thinking about is the combo of too little sleep and discipline problems in a preschooler, but another equally applicable scenario is parents and kids who are in a chronic whining/giving in/whining cycle.

Do you say something like "I wonder if you played around with putting her to bed an hour earlier she might not melt down as much"? or do you just MYOB? What if it affects *your* kid because the other child's behavior affects the classroom of group of kids playing?

Thoughts?

89 thoughts on “I’m back, sort of!”

  1. Interesting drug side effects!Good question. I have a friend whom I never know where to say something and where to MYOB. I see plenty of instances that would maybe just take a fresh perspective to change, but I think I give my opinion a bit too freely as it is, and she probably doesn’t want to hear what I have to say about her kids.
    It does sometimes affect my kid if they are playing together. I try to curb the sugar intake, and with her, it becomes *way* more than my kid should have in a week or two, really. So I try to say limit what my kid gets, but she’ll pile on so much for her kids that mine feels deprived. Sigh.

  2. I wouldn’t say anything. I also wouldn’t want someone to say something to me, unless I asked (I do ask friends’ opinions on things like this from time to time.)

  3. I say something. I tend to be blunt anyway and in all honesty I would hope someone would do the same for me. That being said, what I say is along the lines of “Have you tried?” or “Yeah, when A did that, we tried this and it seemed to help”. I actually think though that saying something has very little effect. The people that I know that have had the most issues with their kids are also fairly unwilling to hear anything about it. I have one friend whose child at age 5 has recently been diagnosed with SPD and might also be on the autism spectrum. Many people (myself actually not included) tried to let her know that her son’s behavior was not typical and she always thought that it was his setting and he was not in the right environment. He started at a Waldorf school last fall and they immediately told her that he had issues that were not typical for an active 4 year old. She still resisted and only after watching her two younger sons did she start to think that perhaps he was having more difficulty than he needed to. He started OT a month ago. That was a long way of saying, I lean towards saying something but have not yet found that it makes a difference anyway.

  4. On Prednisone: Hmmm…interesting side effects. DH has been taking Prednisone 2x daily for almost 15 years. He’s been known to be rather direct at times, so kinda makes me wonder about the ‘no filter’ effect. Interesting.On butting in or MYOB, I think it depends on the friend and how they would perceive my well-intentioned-but-maybe-not-wanted advice. If they are the kind of person that I’ve had parenting discussions with before, or they are a good friend, I will usually make a suggestion. Especially if they talk about it a lot. But, if they have not received suggestions well in the past, or are just the kind of person that’s not into sharing parenting advice, I usually MYOB. If it’s something that directly affects my kid, I’ll address the thing that affects my kid, not necessarily what I consider to be the root problem. The fact is, I may feel (strongly) that the discipline problems are sleep related. But the fact is, I don’t really know all the details. But I do know for a fact what affects my kid. So, if it’ something that needs addressing between the parents (as opposed to being worked out by the kids themselves), I’ll do that.
    When I am going to bring something up, I usually wait until they bring the subject up or a subject that will easily segue into the advice/suggestion. And then I’ll often say something like ‘I read somewhere that…’ or ‘Sometimes X helps…It’s not always the answer, but we did it and it really helped’, so that I can give the other parent an out if they a)don’t want to try it, b) don’t have success with it or c)have already tried it and are sick of people suggesting that they do it.

  5. It depends on whether I think it will help. And I’m always very non-direct about it. Very subtle.I’ll say, “Oh, my sister-in-law had that issue with her blah-blah-blah and he really needed to avoid TV after 6pm and go to bed at 7. He was so high energy.” Or whatever.
    Or my favorite, “It’s so hard when they beg like that isn’t it? Melts my heart. (big sigh and knowing glance) I really wish I didn’t have to be the bad cop sometimes.”

  6. Wow! I feel like you wrote that just for me. My three-year-old son just started preschool and out of the blue started getting in trouble for hitting. He sleeps ten hours each night with no nap during the day. I bet if I got him to sleep an hour earlier it would help a lot. But I already feel like I’m running an obstacle course each night trying to get both kids to bed. How am I going to manage to get him into bed an hour earlier? *Sigh*

  7. Crazy that this is today’s topic! I just spent my lunch hour talking to a good friend who has no idea how to discipline her kids. Major whining/giving in cycle, among other things. The writing has been on the wall for a while (her girls *completely* run the show at her house) and I’ve been wondering what to say, if anything.Well, I decided to keep my mouth shut and only offer advice if she asks. A year went by, but she finally came to me this morning and said, “I need help. I really want your advice. My kids don’t listen to anything I say and I want to change. Please tell me what I can do.” It was a terrific conversation. She totally owned her part in how bad it has gotten and wasn’t defensive when I offered suggestions. And I wasn’t annoyed so I was able to commiserate and share stories about my own failures and successes as well. Nobody is perfect at this. And it’s hard, really hard.
    So, I guess I’m in the MYOB camp. I don’t know if it’s always the best way, but it sure worked in this case!

  8. I don’t give advice unless I am clearly asked. I have found what most people want is compassion, not advice. And, frankly, I’ve gotten the business end of the “Well, we have Darling put her toys AWAY when she’s done with them!” stick once too often. Seriously. This is something I really work on, parsing out when it’s advice, not compassion people want. I have found it is rarely the former. Also, my SIL is a Virgo and do you want to tell her what you think she should do? I think not. (LOL)

  9. @MLB said: “I lean towards saying something but have not yet found that it makes a difference anyway.” I agree, but have the opposite conclusion: I am always trying to lean back towards keeping my own agenda out of it. Just active listening. I’m insecure and I like to stay friends with people, and so to do that, I have found that we are all really just going to do what we’re going to do, and no one never takes advice. They are just looking for approval like we all do. Then they eff up, learn from it, and life goes on.I’m trying to get better at reading people for when they just want to vent versus when they actually want my assvice. Nine times out of 10, they just want to vent. When I hear them say things like “What do you think I should do?” I actually have to make myself confirm with them “Are you asking for my advice? or did you just want to vent?” Even if they ask for advice, I let them vent more and say things like “It’s hard.” Then I might give the advice if they ask again. Can you tell I’ve been burned by the assvice-giving?

  10. For 10 years I worked in a setting where I had contact with dozens of kids on the autism spectrum. In 1998 my husbands brother had a child who 2 years later was obviously autistic. I did not suggest autism, but I did suggest her be evaluated by a local center for autism, and that they try the CHAT with him, it was online. Meanwhile BIL’s mother wanted to sue the delivering doctor for damaging the little boy. They asked their pediatrician who told them he was most certainly not autistic because he was bonded with mommy. At six he was finally diagnosed as autistic. In the intervening years he did get therapies which probably were very similar to standard autism therapies.In another vein, years ago confronted my alcoholic brother, begged him to get help, yelled at him to stop driving around mom and dad, stirred up the whole family. He stopped talking to me, his kids pretty much hated me, and the family divided. In the end he died from it and the family remained divided.
    My lesson: Its possible some people are effective at interventions, constructive criticism, suggestions, but I am not. I will try to keep what I think is wisdom to myself, unless my child is in the balance.
    Or if Moxites are chatting, see I can’t stop! Please tell me to shut up…

  11. @Rudyinparis & @Hush make really good points about reading what someone really wants, and deciphering when someone wants compassion, not advice. I’ll usually go in with compassion first. Often that opens up the door and then a conversation about possible solutions naturally happens. Or sometimes, it’s just commiserating.@Rudyinparis, “…my SIL is a Virgo and do you want to tell her what you think she should do? I think not.” Bwahahahahaha! Now THAT’s funny.

  12. I only give advice if asked specifically, “I don’t know what to do – do you have that problem?” And then it’s always something very specific, an easily adapted tool that worked for me, or even just an insight into why the behavior may be happening, which helps too. These are prefaced with, “I just read something really interesting” or “I tried this with C and it really helped!” Which they can take or leave, without judgement.But I do give huge doses of compassion, especially when the child is younger than mine. Lots of “That sucks so bad. That must be so hard/frustrating/draining/painful…over and over, and it’s usually what people want. I find it helps a lot when someone does it to me, too. My husband is the guy who always wants to help with a solution. I don’t need that from my friends, too!

  13. I almost bit off my tongue yesterday. I was sitting by two women who were complaining about their private school’s new “no peanut” rule. I overheard, “But my 5yo only eats two things- the chicken nuggets from Lunchables and PB&J. So now I have to send her with chicken nuggets for 180 days of school! It is so unfair!” Said 5yo was whining and fussing and was offered a gatorade to keep her quiet. I said not a word.If I had felt forced to participate in the conversation I would have felt too preachy. If her philosophy had been closer to mine, maybe I’d have felt that it was worth giving an opinion, but she was too far to the opposite end of the spectrum for it to be worthwhile. It can be hard for me to NOT give my opinion, but I’m working on it!

  14. I tend towards the “wait until you’re asked” end, although I will occasionally make an opening: “Isn’t it frustrating when you’ve tried a million things and not one of them seems to work?”I tend to assume that most people are getting all the advice they want, and then some, and I don’t want to pile on. I’ve certainly been on the receiving end of that, and I rarely hear anything that I’d be open to and haven’t tried yet.
    Well, except here, of course.
    (I do occasionally snap, but not on child-rearing, I don’t think. But if any of you were planning on tracking me down and ranting repeatedly about someone you’re constantly battling with, I am not your dream audience. Just FYI.)

  15. The whining/giving in/whining thing is tough. We’ve got friends with older kids who have a huge problem with that, and I haven’t found anything to say. Although we recently spent a weekend with them and my husband applied our “zero tolerance” whining policy liberally to all kids in the vicinity – with the explanation to anyone who cared that we were having a lot of trouble with the whining and needed to have the older kids help set an example. Which seemed to go over ok, and helped our situation for the weekend, but probably didn’t have any long-term effect.I have noticed that often I’ll just tune my daughter out when I’m concentrating on something, but that the whining will really get through. I wonder how much of the problem is kids just not getting heard unless they’re whining. In which case the solution isn’t to punish the whining, or to refuse to give in to whining, but to do a better job of listening in the first place.
    On a totally unrelated topic, middle-of-the-night, hour-long temper-tantrums totally suck. Not that I would have any way of knowing this…

  16. If it’s a friend, and they’re struggling, and I feel like I know an easy/obvious solution, I say so. “Why don’t you …?” Maybe this irritates some people, but it’s what I would want (do want) when I’m the clueless one. When someone is all sugarcoated about it (“I heard that sometimes it can help to…”) it just sounds fake to me, like the advice-giver is trying to appear less knowledgeable than they actually believe they are, and ick. If it’s a friend, they know I respect them and am offering what I know from my perspective.If it’s not a friend (an acquaintance, fellow school mom, etc.) I butt out.

  17. My rule of thumb is that it’s ALWAYS better to be kind & loving than to be right. ALWAYS.That said, among my very small, tightly-knit group of friends, I would feel comfortable speaking up if I could think of a tactic that hadn’t been attempted. Between the 6 of us, we war-game one another’s parenting issues pretty much nonstop.
    For someone less intimate, I would wait wait wait until I was asked directly, and even then, I would reflect and reiterate feelings before I would give suggestions.
    Like Slim, I try to assume everyone has done the requisite research and is well-informed and responsible, making the very best decisions for her family & situation. I end up feeling like Mother to the World if I don’t assume that, and that’s just too damn much responsibility.

  18. @SarcastiCarrie – I am a yankee transplanted to the South, and I have to admit that the Southern style of sneaky advice giving (often disguised as either compliments or empathy when it’s neither ) absolutely drives me up a wall! It’s very much the norm here, completely the opposite of the norm where I came from, and I haven’t yet found a polite way to say, “I appreciate that you are trying to help, but I don’t like being manipulated.” Can you suggest a good, Southern-style-manners response to that kind of “under the radar” behavior shaping that I could use when I need it? I work with a bunch of women from the South, and I am just completely outmaneuvered.

  19. Honestly? This is why I include parenting advice on my blog. So I can preach without being completely direct!! Plus, it just gets the rantiness out of my system so I can be with sub-par parents and not blow a gasket. HAhahahaha.In person, I try to just let my relationship with Dd shine through (often we’re with her peers and they’re all having the same kind of meltdown/issue/crisis). I will not offer advice unless asked for help.

  20. I’m firmly on the MYOB end, unless asked. Particularly if my advice would fit what most of the books say, like putting a kid to bed an hour early, I’d hold it back assuming the parent has heard that one. If we did something weird and successful for a very similar problem I might mention it as “this worked for us” with a lot of “of course your mileage may vary”. So I bite my tongue about one of Mouse’s best friends who drinks nothing but Vitamin Water and juice boxes and still has these total meltdowns at almost-7. I just can’t see it being taken well, in which case it won’t help.

  21. I can back you up on that side effect. My son, 5 with severe asthma that is becoming moderate, has no filter or impulse control on that stuff. We took a plane trip from hell with him on it last winter. Hi threw a huge hissy at check-in. He kicked the seat in front of us the whole way home, and cried for much of it, causing people behind us and in front of us to complain loudly about that “brat”. After the flight, he jumped up onto the moving railing of the moving walkway, put both arms and legs out like an airplane, and yelled “wheeeeeeee!” Hope you feel better.

  22. Mrs. Haley, your beautiful sentiment, “My rule of thumb is that it’s ALWAYS better to be kind & loving than to be right. ALWAYS.” makes me think of what I recently heard a friend saying: “Remember, at the end of the argument, if the person you’re fighting with is crying, you lost.” This has really been on my mind lately.And, for the record, Virgos often possess a chutzpah and brashness that I admire very much! No disrespect intended to my Moxie Virgo sistahs! Or my SIL! Who, by the way, could stand to be told that they have pills to give your pets that get rid of fleas. God, I hope she doesn’t read Ask Moxie, or I am totally busted.

  23. Just dealing with this with my sister (younger) whose kids are actually older than mine. She posted something on my facebook wall about something her youngest son did to her older son, and his consequence…but this is not unusual behavior – her son has a lot of boundary issues and issues with competition with older brother. She asked me for suggestions (!) and when I called her she had backed down and was telling me all’s good. Except it’s not. Aside from book recommendations (Siblings Without Rivalry) and gentle suggestions about possibly trying to eliminate the competitive aspect of the brothers….she’s not really open to suggestions. It’s frustrating, because there are a number of factors I would suggest to her as possibly working (diet, amount of sleep, etc.) that she would not receive well. I try to MYOB and hope that one of her mom friends might have better luck.

  24. this has touched a raw nerve with me. It is straining the relationship I have with my BF of 10 years.Its really, really hard to MYOB when your best friend’s kid has repeatedly, for 3 years, hit your kid. And the best she does is “threaten” a time-out. Or “threaten” to take him home from the playdate. She NEVER follows through with any threat. And now her son is learning that if he yells loud enough, he will get what he wants.
    I tend to butt in and boss people around. And it never works and always back fires.
    So I have found the best thing to do now is to focus on what *I* can control and leave everything else alone.
    I have concentrated on helping my son learn to use his words and say “No! Stop hitting me!” instead of whining, crying or hitting back. Although I was secretly relieved and happy when he started giving it back to our friends son. And really suprised at the parents reaction. They said “but our son is tackling and hitting out of fun. Your son is just being mean!” ???!!
    And I follow through with my stated consequences. Because it works. If I say the play date will end if you don’t stop fighting, you better believe me! I had to ask our friends to leave our home last weekend because my son hit her son after his toy was snatched away. They had been fighting for several hours, and I had already told him several times what the consquences were. If I just let it go, again, he knows I’m just blowing smoke out my ass.
    HUGE tantrums ensued from both childern, but I held firm. It was time for our friends to go home. If we had been at their house, we would have left.
    When I asked my son the next day if he knew why we had to ask his friend to leave, he immediately said “because we couldn’t stop fighting”. From a 3 yo.
    Turns out my best friend though it was too harsh of a “punishment” when she herself had been telling her son “if you don’t stop fighting, we’ll have to leave!” She said her son was *so* upset and thought it was his fault, and that upset her.
    Its exhausting and puts a big strain on our friendship. I just focus on my family and my home. Her son is expected to follow the rules at my hosue “no throwing toys, no hitting” etc. I feel comfortable telling them “these are the rules here.”

  25. I never give advice. I hate unsolicited advice-givers. The thing is, I probably don’t know the whole story of what is going on with another family, and therefore I’m not qualified to advise them as to what to do.

  26. Such a funny topic. Totally depends on the friend and whether or not advice is asked for or the parent seems unhappy with the situation at all. Especially about sleep and breastfeeding, I try to suss out the parenting philosophy before addressing anything, even if advice is asked for. There are many ways to skin a cat with both topics.Anecdote on this topic: I was at the park playing with this random father/daughter (both our daughters are two y.o.). Both girls were enjoying picking up dirt/woodchips and throwing them, both the random father and I were telling the girls no. I told my daughter “next time you do that, you’re getting put in the stroller for two minutes”–and I followed through and she stopped. Random father kept threatening his daughter with a “time out” about 50 times (seriously) and finally, I said “Wow, it seems like someone reeeally wants a time out!”
    He ignored me, and we continued to play together nicely until we both left. I don’t even think my “advice” registered with him!

  27. I MYOB and even when people flat out ask for advice I find they generally just want to talk about it and mull over their own different ideas of what to do. So I listen and bite my tongue and try to give feed back only of what they themselves are feeding me. This has worked well in practice so far, but of course it would be impossible to keep up if I thought they were actually damaging the child. Also, this does not apply to my two best mom-friends. With these women I can speak freely even when we don’t agree.

  28. I’ll make book recommendations, but not much more unless specifically asked.@TodayWendy: you, too? I think ours was gas, but I didn’t like being screamed at for an hour in the wee hours of the morning, thank you very much. (Although I couldn’t help but giggle when she finally farted and then let out this little sigh of relief and snuggled in and went to sleep….)
    @Cori- are you asking for advice? 🙂
    Seriously, can you hold on until the time change? Probably not, huh? But that makes it easier to move bedtimes earlier. I take advantage of that every year to try to reset to an earlier bedtime. I never get an hour earlier, but I always get something….

  29. I swear Prednisone is different now, or maybe I just wasn’t as aware as a child. But I feel like whenever anyone in my house is on it, they are really not themselves. My son can’t hold back. I’m up all night. My dog counter surfs. You name it.Anyway, thanks for a moment to vent: what if the problem (like the calls in the horror movies) is coming from inside your own house???
    I’ll tell my husband the kids are exhausted. And they are. And they are crazy running around when he walks in and he looks at me and says, “Oh, yeah, EXHAUSTED!” like I’m lying. Despite *years* of this behavior, he simply does not see the tired energy as what it is and thinks I’m not getting them out for enough exercise.
    I am. (I think. Who ever knows?) But they are pooped from the day and trying to stay awake for some daddy time. And I cannot get him to see it.
    This is one of the few points of disagreement we have but it drives me crazy. And I know if he were writing, he’d be saying in all earnestness, “I know if my wife would just spend more time outside with them, they’d be docile and sleepy when I came home!”
    End of rant. Thank you.

  30. I’m with @hush and @rudyinparis: on the big things (potty training and infant sleep come to mind) I’m mostly looking for commiseration, not advice. The only advice I (sort of) appreciate is the “we tried this, and although all kids are different, it’s worth a try.” So that’s the kind I offer, when I offer any at all.As for the random strangers/people I only sort of know at work/etc, I agree with @Shannon: I never have the whole story, so I refrain from offering advice at all. Especially since I live in a culture where I’m sure my parenting style differs significantly from that of 90% of the other parents out there. I still judge — wrongly, I’m sure, most of the time — but I keep my thoughts to myself, and am grateful that others do the same for me.
    Finally, becoming a parent has destroyed many of the neat, simple ideas I used to have about Parenting (with a capital P). I mean, I used to think that parents who didn’t make their kids eat the family meal were pushovers. Now? My three-year-old only regularly eats three vegetables, which we stock (along with plenty of applesauce) in the refrigerator. He’ll eat parts of the family meal, especially the animal protein bits, but the rest I just let slide. So, hey.
    That said, there are some parenting subjects that I’m super-excited about (breastfeeding, for example, or using non-violent communication techniques) and if anyone gets me started, I’ll talk about them forever in the abstract.
    @Cori – here’s some unsolicited commiseration (hee hee): my son just started preschool, and I’ve noticed that he’s been pretty off-kilter during the transition. He doesn’t hit other kids, but he is much more tantrum-prone at home and he’s reportedly having some trouble listening to the teacher at school. But, good news! We just started week 3 and he’s finally starting to seem himself again.
    I’m with you on the sleep, though — my son doesn’t nap either, and getting him into bed at a reasonable hour for the new school wake-up time is a challenge. We’re making progress, but I think he does need about 30 mins to 1 hour more than we’re built into the schedule on school nights. Transitions for us, too…

  31. @parisienne- I’m with you on the impact becoming a parent has had on my (admittedly vague) ideas about what constitutes good parenting. I look back at what the naive young woman that I was thought, and I laugh. Sp I try to cut my childless friends some slack when they offer parenting advice. Even when it is based on what works for their cats.And as someone who mostly ate meat and white things growing up, who is raising a daughter who won’t even eat potatoes yet (seriously- what is not to like about a potato????)… I think your son is doing great if he likes some veggies!
    I recently got asked for potty training advice and had to laugh, given the fact that I have to move several pairs of rinsed out pants and underwear every morning to have a shower. The only advice I could offer was that the enzyme-based cleaners for pet smells do an awesome job of removing the smell of urine from clothes.

  32. I give too much advice. I have a hard time keeping my mouth shut. But I’m working on it. I just hate seeing people banging their heads against the wall when I know there’s (potentially) a solution.I think, though, that there’s a difference between giving advice from a place where you’ve had the problem and struggled through it to a decent solution for your family, and giving advice from a place where you think you have it all figured out and you can’t understand why these “sub-par” parents don’t get their act together.
    The latter type of advice is rarely well-received. And humility, if not embraced, is often forced upon us. I’m working on the humility part, and having a second child who isn’t as good a sleeper as the first is helping with that a lot.

  33. @SarcastiCarrie – I do the same thing you do, but I never thought it was “giving advice” but more like commiserating and then sharing information, like this worked or this was a huge fail for us. The same way I would share that Tar-shay has a sale on everyone’s favorite salad dressing or that I loved a certain book.As far as giving assvice, with the above stated caveat, I usually MMOB unless I’m asked or unless it’s someone who so frequently solicits my advice that I just assume it’s ok to give without first getting permission. And it goes both ways – I have a friend that dispenses advice like Pez to me because I’ve asked her enough times, “What would you do?!?”
    And I don’t mind advice unless it’s loaded with judginess or condescension. But if it’s a “oh, we’ve been there and the only thing that worked was putting her in the carrier and vacuuming the whole house till she passed out,” I’m usually like “thank the lord for you because that is one thing I hadn’t thought of and even if she doesn’t fall asleep, at least my floors will be clean!” BTW, it worked. And my floors have never been cleaner!

  34. @Cloud – “Even if it is based on what works for their cats”. HA HA HA. My brother just bragged to me that he had his new puppy trained to pee outside in just a few short weeks – waaaaaaay faster than it took us to potty train DS. I can’t WAIT until he has kids.

  35. I have two kids, and one of my close friends has one that is about six months older than my youngest. Any suggestions I started out making fell on pretty deaf ears, so I just stopped trying to share what I’ve learned, and decided to let them ask if they were interested.I am always amused at the advice they are offering *me*, though, along with tidbits of parenting wisdom. Its kind of like two people standing on a beach with their backs to the water, and a huge tsunami towering over them. They have no idea what is about to hit them, but they are very adept at telling me how I ought to swim.

  36. “I wonder how much of the problem is kids just not getting heard unless they’re whining. In which case the solution isn’t to punish the whining, or to refuse to give in to whining, but to do a better job of listening in the first place.”I think there is something to this. Thanks to the commenter who raised it.
    Lots good thoughts on advice-giving, too. I only do so when I feel like I’m on the same page as the other person when it comes to parenting issues, and I try to caveat everything with here’s what worked for us, your mileage may vary. Because, what do I know about someone else’s kid? I barely know how to care for my own.
    That said, I have gotten great tips from other parents and have used them. To wit: a friend’s daughter starting staying dry at night by wearing underpants with a pull-up on top. The girl understood that one does not pee in one’s underpants, and somehow that clicked on a subconscious, sleep level. Same with my daughter — she was dry at night within one week wearing a pull-up over her underpants.
    Your mileage may vary. 🙂

  37. @Cloud – I thought my kid was the only one who won’t eat potatoes! For the record, I don’t even consider him a picky eater. He gets plenty of nutrients, he’ll eat any kind of fruit you put in front of him (mostly) but anything green is a hard sell. And there are a bunch of things that he just won’t go near, I think because of the texture: potatoes in any form, ice cream (?!), pudding, yogurt, camembert.But he eats Roquefort. And we keep cans of marinated octopus around, because he loves that for lunch. My (geeky) analysis of it all is: parenting isn’t an algorithm, it’s a heuristic.
    Anyone else want to complain about grandparent advice? I know they mean well, but let’s face it, EVERYTHING worked better 30 years ago. Especially potty training.
    And even when they’re not giving advice, they’re laughing at you and considering this their great moment of revenge. My dad’s response to my current potty training stress: “Hey, with a little luck, you’ll soon be training two at the same time!” (I’m seven months pregnant.) Ha. Ha ha.
    So, whatever I may or may ont say to people now, I will be quiet when I’m the grandparent. I will. I will. I will. (Maybe I should print this out and tape it into my son’s baby book so he has written proof of this promise.)

  38. @dregina, the yankee transplanted to the South who is sick of the Southern style of sneaky advice giving (often disguised as either compliments or empathy when it’s neither), and who is “looking for a good, Southern-style-manners response” … Well, here’s my assvice (because you asked, of course) depending on whether or not you want to blend in with Southern society, or stand apart from it. Meaning, do you care if these women conclude you were “raised in a barn”? I think based on your question that you do care somewhat. Because if you do care, even a little bit, you’d do well to emulate them. “When in Rome” right?As in, “Thank you, I really do appreciate your suggestion.” “I’m going to have to try that- you’re so sweet for sharing.” But if you find someday you don’t care so much about a future career in local politics, you could claim Yankee Privilege and just act the way you would normally. “Excuse me? What are you trying to say?” Or do a Miss Manners “I’ll forgive you for giving unsolicited advice, if you’ll forgive me for not taking it.” Honestly, I’ve always thought that sounded incredibly rude actually!

  39. I usually read all the comments first, and I can’t today, but I’ll throw my input out.No, I truly NEVER EVER EVER do this. Why? Because it I consider it unwelcome and rude when I’m on the receiving end. Unless I’m asked point blank for advice, I don’t give it. Not even couched in “oh, hey maybe . . .” I know when I’m getting that from others, and fuck that.
    I’m sure I’m touchy about this because I have a friend who CONSTANTLY does this to me and others, and believe me, she has some of her own shit to worry about before she should be helping the rest of us become better parents. Don’t we all?

  40. I mind my own business. Although I can’t pretend I don’t also judge, but at least I keep it to myself. I hate parenting advice handed down from friends.I am amazed that other people have kids who hate potatoes!

  41. @dregina – “Can you suggest a good, Southern-style-manners response to that kind of ‘under the radar’ behavior shaping that I could use when I need it?”Well, I don’t think I’ve ever been in the South, but I know Miss Manners used to have you say, “Isn’t that interesting,” in a way that meant it was not.
    Subtle and non-direct is code for shy, introverted, and not terribly confident about her own parenting, so it’s not supposed to be passive-aggressive.

  42. @rudyinparis, @hush, and others re: commisseration… I think you’re bang on. I know that for me, if I want advice, I ask for it. If I tell my friend/mother/MIL/sister that I have difficult situation X and I’ve decided to do Y about it, the last thing I want to hear is how I should do Z instead. Even though I clearly said I’m doing Y. Butt the eff out and just tell me that situation X sucks. If I say I don’t know what to do about it, THEN I’m opening the door to advice. But nothing drives me more bonkers than unsolicited advice that’s given AFTER its clear I already know what I’m going to do.Now that I’ve said that though, I KNOW for certain that I am a total hypocrite because I have caught myself doing the exact same thing. I’m bad for doling out unsolicited advice. Gah. Do unto others as you’d have done to you, eh? Well I try. I just suck at it.
    @parisienne and @Cloud re: how becoming a parent changes your previously naive and totally unrealistic ideals of parenting. ha! hahaha! I used to be all judgey about my sister letting her kids cosleep with her. “no way any baby of mine is sleeping in my bed.” Well we’re not full time cosleepers around here but you better believe I do it when necessary. One example of millions.
    Also love that your son won’t eat potatoes that taste like practically nothing but will gobble up roquefort and marinated octopus!

  43. I struggle with this. For the little things, I tend to mind my own business, but I have a hard time staying quiet about things that are dangerous or life-changing. When my nephew was younger I realized my SIL & BIL weren’t buckling him into his car seat properly. They never tightened the straps because they didn’t know you could loosen them again, and how would they get him in and out? (College-educated people! With multiple degrees!) I just about had a heart attack seeing him flopping around in his loosely strapped car seat. So I did say something that time.But another time, my friend’s daughter was clearly struggling with some kind of learning disability, and I didn’t know what to say. I asked questions and hinted around a bit, but in the end I felt like I couldn’t go in and tell someone else how to parent. Her daughter ended up dropping out of school and I always felt bad about it, like I could have helped somehow, but what could I have done? It’s tricky.

  44. @SarcastiCarrie – actually, “Isn’t that interesting” is great! I want to -or at least am aware that I have to – learn how to operate in this culture, and so many suggestions I get just don’t feel quite like something I could say. But Isn’t that interesting is doable. Thanks!

  45. Thank you for reminding me of the time change! I am so going to use that to move the bops’ sleep time an hour earlier. I tried the same thing last year, but of course my and DH’s interests are in opposite directions from one another (I like to get her in bed before my bedtime, he likes to sleep in in the mornings) so it drifts slowly later. And I can’t use try the tactic of weaning her off needing me beside her at bedtime by waiting until she’s ALMOST asleep if I fall asleep before she does!On the advice front: I keep my mouth shut. People with kids around us all have some large variation between their parenting and ours, so there’s no point in even saying anything. One friend spanks, one friend has and spends waaaaaaaayyyy more cash, one friend just doesn’t value the education the same way we do. The weird thing is that when talking to me they all assume I do exactly what they do, and I let them believe it because saying otherwise is implicit criticism. It’s interesting, because, for example, three of my colleagues and I all have potty training toddler or preschool girls right now, and we all approach it a little differently. And all our kids seem to have quite different personalities in that realm as well.
    The other thing I keep my mouth shut about in person is developmental stages. One secretary was talking to me and telling me that she had no idea how her kids learned to read, they just went to school and picked it up, and not to worry, mine would too. My two year old has been decoding words for a few months and her comprehension is starting to catch up. If I say anything about that to anyone, it comes across as bragging (which honestly, it would be) and I worry it will make others insecure. So I don’t mention it. On the other hand, she’s behind my colleague’s kid in gross motor skills, and weirdly that made me feel bad briefly.

  46. I would never tell another parent how to discipline her child. I might offer stories about what worked for me in regards to things like potty training or night weaning, but only if asked directly.I think suggesting another person’s child should go to bed earlier presumes an awful lot about the family situation. I speak as the parent of a preschooler who has behavior issues tied to his lack of sleep. Believe me, if we could get him to sleep earlier or longer or not wake up several times a night we would. If someone wanted to tell us what worked for them to make this happen, I would listen. If someone wants to preach to me that he needs more sleep then I’d like them to come live in my house for 24 hours.

  47. I was on it too! It’s funny because I was put on that and singulair, my son’s usual medicine. I noticed nothing, maybe because I live in a state of crabbiness! I am due for a chest x-ray, this time of year is getting a lot of us! But I finally remembered my regimen- oregano, garlic, myrrh, vitamin C, echinnacea and golden seal. My sister, the witch, says it works! Zinc sucking candies help too! Good-luck with the strep disappearing.www.gaynycdad.com

  48. Oh, yes, I used to console myself with the “smart kids don’t sleep thing” too. It does make you feel better (somewhat) and so far, I’ve found it to be true. Most of the kids I’ve met who didn’t sleep as babies, toddlers, preschoolers are quite book-smart. However, long-sleepers can also be book-smart. I haven’t met (m)any kids who were short-sleepers who are less-smart.I’m sure there’s a methematical way of putting it. The converse is not true or something. We could make a Venn diagram. I really like those.

  49. I lost far too much sleep last night mentally composing an email to some acquaintances. They’ve been very open on their blog and Facebook about how they’re “Ferberizing” their 2.5-year-old son by locking him in a pitch black bedroom for the night. I haven’t read Ferber’s book, but it’s hard to imagine that this is a recommended part of the method. I think what they’re doing is abusive and dangerous.I am further disturbed that people on Facebook “like” the dad’s status when he reports on how long his son cries each night. Frankly, I don’t see what there is to “like” about a scared little boy trapped in the dark.
    Like I said, these are acquaintances. They live across the country from me. I’ve never met their son. The only reason I started reading their blog was because my daughter is the same age and it’s been interesting to see parallels and differences between the two kids and how we’re raising them.
    I’m not going to say anything to the parents. It’s not my place, and I very much doubt they’d listen to me, anyway. I guess I just needed a place to vent.

  50. I should follow up by mentioning that I was tempted to give this couple my two cents since they’re putting it all out there on the Internet. Aren’t they inviting advice by doing this?

  51. @Julie how dreadful. Yikes. But, right: what can one do.@Dregina another Southern phrase that can come in handy is “Bless your heart.” Do you know that one? See e.g. http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=bless+your+heart . So if “Isn’t that interesting?” doesn’t prove strong enough you may have to try, “Bless your heart — isn’t that interesting?” or variations, e.g., “Bless your heart, I never thought of that.”
    @Cloud et. al. my brother hated potatoes as a kid, to the point that he’d gag on them consistently if forced to “try a bite.” He now complains that the potatoes my mother served were too bland (and eats potatoes), so perhaps some spicier recipes would help … or, you know, not: what do I (and my brother) know?
    As for the original question, I’m mostly of the commiseration and at most (if asked) “Here’s something that worked for us” or even “something that I’ve heard works with some kids.”
    @Slim — darnit, there go my plans for next summer’s vacation.

  52. what srb said. ‘He needs more sleep’ is not as straight a line as it sounds and I would also be annoyed if someone suggested that to me. I suspect the same goes for a lot of solutions that may seem obvious at first. So I tend to tread very carefully with offering advice, because I know so well that every child/situation is different.

  53. I hate when people give me advice, even under the guise of “I tried that and it worked for me” etc. Because I know that underneath, they’re judging me as a bad mother. And if I’ve learned anything as a mom, it’s that all kids are different and don’t respond in the same way to sleep/eating/discipline techniques, no matter what the “parenting experts say.” I have a kid who doesn’t sleep, never has, and we spend a huge amount of time doing anything we can to get him enough sleep. So from a lot of people blessed with decently-sleeping kids, I get a crap load of unsolicited advice or stories about all the things they’ve done to get their kids to sleep. Ya know what? I’ve tried it all, including consulting with various professionals. I don’t need to have it continually implied that I have/am screwing up my kid.Um, yes, I’m a little sensitive about this stuff!!!

  54. @Julie – I know this is cheap, but can you kindly post some assvice anonymously on their blog? If nothing else, you’ll feel a little better and it might plant the seed for them to maybe make a change for the better. Like I said, cheap. But perhaps better than nothing?@Ariel – As a parent whose son never slept (until we figured out that he was allergic to dairy) and whose daughter now doesn’t sleep (even though she’s not allergic to dairy) when I offer up the “Oh I remember that stage…I eventually figured out that we had to do x to save our sanity” is not a judgment, but more a “my kid broke the mold and no book tells you to try x first so maybe you hadn’t thought of it but it worked for us and I don’t want to see you struggle and reinvent the wheel and I don’t give a crap if you try x but in case you want to try x, here’s me cheering you on and yay solidarity.” And I will share one piece of advice on sleep that I’ve clung to with a kung fu ninja grip – it’s the smart ones that don’t sleep. Not really advice, and maybe not even true, but in the middle of the night, when you’re up again! tell yourself that your kid isn’t sleeping because s/he is super smart and it’ll take a tiny little bit of the edge off. At least it does for me. Sometimes.

  55. nej, I must be brilliant then ;)This thread is making me think. My conversations with friends don’t typically include someone specifically asking for advice. One person raises an issue, then the other might say something like, “Have you tried x? That did y for me!” and then the other person goes, “Hey, that’s interesting” and asks more questions, or says “Oh yeah, that did z for me.” Rinse lather repeat.
    But I love advice in this vein, even if it doesn’t work for me, and I also am prone to be a total assvice giver. So I’m wondering if I need to tone it down with my friends. I hope they aren’t feeling annoyed and imposed upon! On the other hand, I think we all come from a pretty similar parenting style, so the topics at hand are generally things like sleep, food, minor behavior issues. I’ve not confronted most of the more major issues where you might really offend someone by commenting.

  56. IMO the parents who want help will ask for advice, and the parents who need it most won’t think they need it. I feel that they believe the child sucks and parenthood sucks, but they never finish the equation to conclude that maybe they suck and should try to change how they do things.I think it’s possible to tell a parent who is having a rough day from a parent who is just plain clueless. I offer sympathy to the good parent on the bad day, and to the bad parent on just another day I cringe. It doesn’t bother me so much when the parent is having a bad time of it as when they have driven their child to tears by not knowing how to stop a power struggle. Sometimes that is when kids most want some love, and when they are least likely to get it. It kills me to see parents turn scary.

  57. @nej- can we extend that saying about the smart ones to include potty training? Because I need some comfort on that front right now. I had decided to just give in, but then they moved her up to the next room at day care (and boy was she ready- she’s loving the “academics”) but that room is more strict on pottying and I may go insane dealing with this all. The only other kid I know of who was this hard to potty train grew up to be a bit of a genius, so I’m clinging to that. And the fact that at least its just pee accidents. (Of course, I was apparently super easy to potty train. Hmmmm…..)Interesting that there are so many potato haters out there. Since Pumpkin has never even put any in her mouth, I don’t think she can blame texture or taste. I blame an extreme case of neophobia, probably inherited from her mother. Who still gags a bit on beans and iceberg lettuce, but now recognizes that it is probably psychosomatic.

  58. One approach that (I think) works well is to wait until you’re in a conversation about the topic — say, the toddler’s meltdown situation — and, rather than asking, “have you tried putting him to bed an hour earlier?” ask, “what happens when you put him to bed an hour earlier?” Often, someone’s tried it and it doesn’t work. Or they haven’t tried it, and they’ll say, “Oh, I hadn’t thought of that. Maybe that could work.” It’s much gentler than just trying to advise them; it makes it part of the course of conversation instead.

  59. I generally tend to offer advice only if asked – or try to take it all in (if applicable) in a group situation where said issue has come up in conversation.That said, I think if the advice were offered as genuine advice rather than as criticism, it might be accepted a little more. Being in the throes of the threes I am about to tear my hair out in frustration and feel like a bit of an idiot asking for advice. Generally, if I ask directly I seem to get a lot of hemming and hawing but I am truly at a loss – otherwise, I wouldn’t have asked.
    That’s why ‘Ask Moxie” is such a great blog. You can ask the questions you might not ask otherwise and receive genuine answers – not sarcasm, knowing looks or negativity…

  60. @Slim – my kid is eccentric enough that building cathedrals and chateaux out of potatoes might just work. Though I’m geeky enough enough to picture the Venn diagrams and chuckle.I guess I just don’t think that potatoes have enough nutritional interest to push the issue. It just seems funny: my kid won’t eat French fries! Or ice cream! Ha!
    The only potty training advice that REALLY irritates me and STILL DOES is the “it just happens overnight” line. I’ve been waiting for that moment for months, kind of like I waited in vain for the magical night “they just start sleeping through.” I know that there will be some magical moment, as there was for sleep, when I realize that it is not longer a problem and hasn’t been for long enough that I can close the case, but that’s different.
    I guess this is my pet peeve with advice in general: if it was easy for you, please PLEASE PLEASE assume you were lucky. Don’t pretend you’re the only one around who’s read the parenting manual and the rest of us are just clueless.

  61. Either I’m a good enough friend with the person that we already share each other’s parenting challenges, so any advice is part of a give-and-take between equals, or I’m not a good enough friend for my advice to be anything but unwanted and unhelpful.Even with friends, I never start with “have you tried?” I always, always stick with “when we were having that problem, we tried these things, and of the things we tried, this worked best.” There’s something about someone asking me “have you tried?” that just makes me want to BITE.

  62. @dregina – The tone of your comment honestly rubbed me the wrong way. What if you had instead substituted “minority women” for “Southern women” and say “New York” for “the South”?Judging by the responses, most of you seem to agree that bias and stereotyping is ok sometimes. I’m Jewish and I’ve been called a JAP before so I am very sensitive to these kinds of blanket, negative statements about groups of women.

  63. “if it was easy for you, please PLEASE PLEASE assume you were lucky. Don’t pretend you’re the only one around who’s read the parenting manual and the rest of us are just clueless.”Amen. My didn’t sleep baby, doesn’t nap toddler has been easy on some fronts and I don’t for a minute think it’s anything I have done brilliantly as a parent. I just thank the universe and move on to dealing with the not so easy stuff.
    Re potatoes – Tate will eat sweet potato fries and use regular fries as a dipping stick for ketchup and that’s the extent that he’s moved to eat potatoes. We’re more of a rice/noodle house though so it may just be lack of exposure.
    I’m not sure I have enough experience to offer advice, really. I still feel my way along rather blindly. That said, I do know when I’m giving-in in situations that might make an outsider looking in cringe but I’m picking my battles with a long range plan. May not work but I’m the one dealing with the daily grind, so until it’s something that has a big impact on someone else’s kids, I’m not too bothered about outside appearances. Definitely if I’m complaining – 99% of the time I just want to vent. Requests for advice will be very directly asked (breaking with my southern upbringing I guess).

  64. Ok. Reality Check Time.Sometimes parents, particularly brand spanking new parents, just need to to told what to do. Like the car seat example above. Or when a friend came to visit and told me that the temperature in our nursery was waaaay too high and could kill the baby. Very important!
    Or like the new mum I know who kept pulling 1 mo. old off the breast after 10 minutes “because he had enough and I don’t want him to be obese”. Then he would cry for long periods of time, spit up from crying, and not sleep (duh). And she would have dad stick his finger in the baby’s mouth or offer his arm for the baby to suck on, and they would stand there and ooh and aah over how strong the baby’s suck was, and how bad the bruises were on dad’s arm.
    OMG. So frustrating to watch. I tried not to say anything. I really did. But it happened three visits in a row, over two weeks. So I went with the passive route – I gave books, I sent links, I suggested a BFing clinic. Nothing sunk in. I was getting desperate and baby wasn’t meeting his weight targets, plus mum was going crazy from not sleeping because, well, the baby was crying.
    Finally I just said – he’s crying because he is hungry. Put him on the breast and leave him there. Let him fill himself up while you watch a movie or Oprah or something. Change him, put him down for a nap, nurse him again, as long as he wants, each time he wants it. HE IS HUNGRY. YOU ARE STARVING YOUR BABY (ok, I didn’t say the bit about starving, but I was ready to if necessary).
    Like magic, after letting him nurse on demand for two weeks, baby is happy and napping for 3 hours at a time, doing all the things he is supposed to do, and sleeping 6 hours (in a row!) at night. Mum thinks he is a gifted child because he has “learned to sleep”. Whatever. HE WAS HUNGRY.
    Sometimes people just need to be corrected. I know it is all nice and polite etc to avoid giving advice, but really, sometimes something just has to be said. Not all the time, of course, and not even most of the time, but sometimes. Particularly if it is a life, limb type danger and parents are clearly clueless.

  65. @Parisienne, re: potty training: Bullsh*t. Overnight-scmovernight. It didn’t work that way in our house even a little bit (but hey, maybe it will for you!). My older daughter was 80% potty-trained for ten months when it finally seemed to click into 100%… and then, this past summer, after a full year, she wet her pants 1-2 times a day for ten days straight.Kids are weird.

  66. A) can we pleeeze stop talking about food??? I just ate two left over baked potatoes. Cold.B) I’m new to NC, so let me get this straight: “Bless your heart”= “you are an idiot” (I might have been) and “Bless his heart”= “he is an idiot?” Is this correct? I’m not gong to use it, I just want the proper translation.
    C)Please tell me when I’m being a jerk, or crossing the line, or Just- Not-Getting-IT here on Moxie, so that I may be curbed from being an ASS in-person and with this whole new group of Progressive Preschool Parents. (In Preschool, the parent is the New Kid.) Really, please pass the blog slap.

  67. The elephant in the room is that everyone knows some parents are simply better than others. And everyone knows they are the better parent. (Just like everyone thinks they’re a good driver, has a sense of humor and good taste. But, to quote “When Harry Met Sally”, “That can’t possibly be true, can it?”)I never say anything, no matter how annoyed I am because no one ever really wants advice! Unless someone asks me directly “I don’t know what to do, I’m having problems, what did you do???”, I butt out. So this means I tend to willingly answer specific questions (e.g. about a nursing issue) but never butt in when I see what I consider to be an obvious parenting issue.
    Examples (please excuse my venting and judging):
    *My husband’s cousin has a kid that is quite simply, a brat–in fact, my otherwise mellow, non-judgemental husband invokes him as the number one example of “holy cow, let’s do whatever it takes to avoid winding up with a kid like that”. He wasn’t born that way, but his parents give in to whining, screaming and crying constantly. Plus, the Mom speaks very harshly and critically of others, including her husband, demonstrating to the kid how to be a meanie on a daily basis. BTW, the kid is (so we hear) an angel at school– he knows that a different set of rules apply there. His parents concluded they’re not “authoritarian” enough, but say it’s too late to change (they’ve been saying this since he was 4, he’s now 8). So they just let him be a brat and then complain about him to others in front of him.
    *This weekend, on a trip with several families we encountered a 5 y.o. described by his parents as “difficult”. He’s not difficult, his parents have simply taught him that whining, screaming, bossing and crying are the way to rule the roost. Their “easy” 3 y.o girl seems to whine and screech just as much as her brother. (I think they regard her as “easy” because she eats and sleeps better, but her behavior isn’t otherwise that different.) They constantly give into whining, bribe with candy (!), and negotiate endlessly over how many bites the children should eat. When their 5 y.o. pushed down my 3 y.o. they chalked it up to the 5 y.o.’s “bad mood”. These are otherwise great people- smart, funny, intelligent, warm people. But I honestly don’t think we can hang out with them much because their kids are so annoying (seriously disruptive to any kids or adults who are around them).
    *My son’s pre-school best friend who seems never to have heard the word “no” in his entire life. Toy store visits are a daily occurrence, the house is filled (every room!) with multiples of every toy imaginable, and the kid lives on sweets. Not surprisingly, he has a lot of trouble sharing with other kids. His parents are hoping he’ll grow out of it. We used to have a decent relationship with these parents which soured when I finally told their child “no” in a situation where he was behaving completely inappropriately toward my child and they were standing right there not doing anything. This goes against my general rule not to parent other people’s children, but this was one time I snapped. No doubt they think I’m a hard-ass.
    In none of these cases have I said a word to the parents about their parenting. It’s sad because in all three cases, the parents are clearly not happy with the child’s behavior and complain constantly about it. I listen, say “Mmm-hmmm, it’s hard, I know” and bite my tongue. Otherwise, I just parent my child as usual in their vicinity. I’m sure they probably think I’m too mean/strict for placing limits and enforcing them or just think my child is magically “easy”. Whatever– bottom line is, keep it to yourself unless asked because people don’t actually want to hear it.

  68. I found it! I found proof that the smart ones don’t sleep! http://www.du.edu/ricks/giftedness/characteristics.html@Cloud – I don’t believe for one second you were a good sleeper. Or maybe sleep and smarts are not mutually exclusive.
    @Lisa – Too funny. I’m so gonna use “blog slap.”
    @ObviouslyAnon – That reminds me of the mom I know who kept pumping because she was making too much milk. Even though her doctor told her to stop. And I told her to stop. And every effing book and website under the sun told her to stop. I thought for sure her boobs were going to burst and spray the entire city with milk. And then she declared breastfeeding was too difficult, put her baby on formula, found out that she was seriously allergic to milk, took her off of formula and started feeding her solids at like 8 or 9 weeks. No breastmilk, no formula, just solids.

  69. @nej- I was a crap sleeper. I woke up every night at 2 a.m. and wanted to play. (This cracks me up, because let me tell you- you wake me up at 2 a.m. now and I do NOT want to play.) I didn’t sleep through the night until I was 2. The bad sleep karma in our house is definitely from me.But my Mom reports that I was super easy to potty train.
    Under my karma theory of parenting, this means that my husband is the source of our bad potty karma. I think I’ll give him grief about that tonight.
    @Lisa- the time change isn’t until the beginning of Nov. Which is why I thought that the original mom who wanted her kid to go to sleep earlier probably couldn’t wait for it…
    There is a quote about life that I think applies equally well to parenting (and which I’m going to mangle): The game of life is not so much in holding a good hand as in playing a poor hand well.
    By which I mean- we all got dealt challenges with our kids, and the true measure of good parenting is how well you work with those challenges to produce a happy, productive adult- not in how long it takes to potty train or whether or not your kid will eat his green beans (or potatoes).
    And the real kicker is that no one will ever really see your successes, or thank you for the hard work it took to produce them, but lots of people are happy to jump all over your failures.

  70. @lisa – yes, in nc ‘bless your heart’ is usually code for ‘you are an idiot’…you don’t even want to know what ‘bless your li’l pea-pickin’ heart’ is code for!i don’t have much to add, because i don’t have any parent friends close by anyway, and the ones i have are excellent parents who make my muddling seem excessive. but great discussion!
    oh, but my mama saw some people at a park an hour from here, clearly trying their best to be good parents & totally missing the mark. she said she felt so bad for them. so there’s the ‘not everyone has good taste’ thing.

  71. Ok you potato-haters. Here’s some yummy ways to eat potatoes:Chop up leftover baked or boiled potatoes into bite sized chunks and fry them in a pan with tons of butter, onions, and salt & pepper. Ohsogood with eggs in the morning.
    Cut up potatoes into wedges, or use baby potatoes and cut in half, toss in olive oil (a little goes a long way) and steak spice (lots) and bake them in the oven for 45 minutes, turning once half way thru. Mmmmmm homefries, great with steak or other bbq.
    Boil baby potatoes (uncut, with skins on). Toss in melted butter, rosemary, and dill. Great with fish.
    Ok?

  72. @Melba, We prepare our potatoes in very similar ways. DS, he who is very into beige food right now, will have none of it. So he can be added to the list of potato-haters (at least for now). Like @SarcastiCarrie, he only likes potatoes when they are frenched and fried.@Cloud, OK, really, are we living the same life? I’m really beginning to think so! Every time DS doesn’t eat potatoes I’m also thinking ‘How can he not like potatoes? Who doesn’t like potatoes?’ Clearly, from the comments, it’s more common than you’d think.
    And on this: “By which I mean- we all got dealt challenges with our kids, and the true measure of good parenting is how well you work with those challenges to produce a happy, productive adult- not in how long it takes to potty train or whether or not your kid will eat his green beans (or potatoes).”
    Oh yeah. I really believe that one person’s sleep issue is someone else’s eating issue, etc. Gotta take the long view.

  73. @nej – that is really remarkable. Poor kid (unless he or she really liked it, which I kind of doubt but perhaps is possible).

  74. @ObvAnonThisTime! – Glad you said this: “Sometimes people just need to be corrected. I know it is all nice and polite etc to avoid giving advice, but really, sometimes something just has to be said. Not all the time, of course, and not even most of the time, but sometimes. Particularly if it is a life, limb type danger and parents are clearly clueless.” HOWEVER…Have you ever noticed that some people actively REBEL against the “correct” advice? Or because they find they dislike the source of the advice, or the godawful smug tone of the advice – no matter how technically correct, wonderful, life-changing, well-meaning and helpful that advice actually may be – the WAY the advice is delivered can make all the difference. I know I have problems with authority, so I will look for ways to discredit any advice I didn’t want to go along with anyway.
    People are not good decision makers about a lot of things. Just look at divorce rates, the obesity epidemic, and the average amount of credit card debt these days! (All of which apply to me, I might add!) Did you honestly think I was going to listen to anyone who tried to tell me not to marry the jerk? Buy that expensive living room set I couldn’t afford? Lose weight? It is no different with parenting. Look how many seemingly smart, affluent people don’t vaccinate for eff’s sake! Seriously?! This “not accepting the conventional wisdom” anymore is going to catch up to all of us someday.

  75. OMG, I’m so heartened by all the potato-hating children out there! I thought my son was a *freak* for refusing to eat them. They’re so bland! Who doesn’t like a potato! He won’t even eat french fries! I assume it’s the texture, but who knows. He eats other veggies but will only eat them frozen (green bean, corn, peas, and carrot mixes) – a handy trick I learned from my nanny. So he likes crunch but not mealy? Who knows. I still think it’s weird, but I’m not invested in getting him to eat the potatoes.The advice conversation makes me sad in a way. Sad because it seems like we have to be so careful about what we say all the time. Of course parenting is one of those things where we all tend to feel strongly that what we’re doing is “right” which can lead to strong feelings of the “mistakes” of others – so often assvice is given in that vein, intentionally or not (a kind of self-righteous we do it the right way like THIS and you do it the wrong way like THAT). But this site shows you can give advice and have a conversation about parenting that is supportive, helpful, meaningful, and helps us all feel less alone. I talk to my close girlfriends the same way – I am commiserating and sharing ideas about parenting. The things I see happen that make me feel judgmental are the ones I shut my mouth about, because I figure then I’m veering into lecturing/judging/being self-righteous (a friend who said she was “too lazy” to breastfeed, a child who clearly has behavioral problems and too-lenient parents, kids eating too much sugar). If a friend is struggling with a really difficult problem and I have strong feelings about what she “should” be doing, I keep my mouth shut in terms of saying anything that sounds like I have the answers (I might ask, what does the doctor say? Have you read this book? You might want to check Moxie’s archives, etc.) In one case a friend’s daughter has a lot of behavioral problems and it interferes with our friendship. I don’t know what to do about it – her child is simply unpleasant to be around, and aggressive so I don’t trust her around my kids. And I definitely can’t say anything about it, even though it’s a problem the friend is aware of and wants to fix.

  76. I’m also distressed to hear that “bless your heart” in NC means you’re an idiot. I have a friend from the Midwest who used to say this and I picked up the habit – but it was always in a compassionate way, when something terrible has happened or someone is struggling with something. I better not say it anymore now that I live in the South!

  77. Ok, sorry about the string of posts. Apparently I am full of things to say!@ Cloud, you are so right about parenting successes and what’s important. Another element to the art of parenting that’s important to keep in mind is the roll of the random. Some children are hardwired one way, and others another. Just because your child sleeps like a dream doesn’t necessarily mean you are doing anything “right” and I am doing anything “wrong” – it only means your child sleeps well. And sometimes a parent-child match can not work so well, so those pairs face increased challenges. It’s important to remember that a child is who he is, his own person, not a lump of clay molded by adults. Obviously nurture is important in facilitating or hampering a child’s natural temperment, but I am always cautious to ascribe positive aspects of my son’s behavior/personality to anything we’ve done well (or badly).

  78. @Erin – I have totally been there with the friend’s children who are simply unpleasant to be around & aggressive, and therefore untrustworthy around my kids. Our friend is a recently-separated dad of 3 girls who have never gotten parental attention for positive behavior. He has trouble setting limits and struggles with how to effectively discipline them. He also thinks he can just bring the girls along with him to anyone’s house and they will automatically behave while he ignores them – he has a track record for turning a blind eye to the property destruction, the lying, and the hitting they do every time. To the point people will ask if he is invited before they say yes to any invitation.There is just so much on his plate and his soon-to-be-ex is a nightmare who bears most of the responsibility for how the girls act, and clearly he needs good friends around…. but NOT at the expense of my kids. So why don’t we ever say anything, you ask? We’re honestly not that close. I don’t ever give or take unsolicited advice. EVER. And because this friend is also a coworker of DH’s and there is a professional relationship that needs to be maintained. So… we say nothing, but instead let our behavior do the talking, as in what we did last weekend: “Yes, the girls can come to our house for the fantasy draft as long as you either bring a babysitter along, or we can provide one – up to you. My kids and I will be playing at a neighbor’s house so DH can actually concentrate on his picks.” In the old days with this friend I would have offered to watch his girls, but the girls have been acting out a lot more since the separation/mom’s new boyfriend’s arrival in their lives, and that arrangement no longer works for me because it never worked in the first place.
    Some might say we’re ‘sneaky & manipulative’ because we won’t candidly blurt out something that amounts to “your parenting needs improvement, buddy”, but I say it is easier and more comfortable for me to just let other people be, and to be respectful of other’s choices, while working on healthy boundaries for myself without regard to what the other person chooses to do or not. 😉

  79. @Anonymous This Time – Expressing compassion for your situation, because you are in a tough spot – trying to keep your spouse and kids happy, and you are probably the one who gets the brunt of the problem (overtired kids).This is a semi-serious piece of advice: lock your husband in the bathroom with a pile of sleep books, so he can read up on what overtired kids look like.

  80. You guys are awesome, awesome, awesome.@Julie re: Internet acquaintances – personally, I’d defriend them on FB and stop reading their blog. I think “sleep training” is like the other “dangerous” areas, and they’re not going to change their methods, and you’re still going to be pissed/stressed when your read their updates. For certain things like this, I just take active measures to *not* think about these things when it’s a philosophical difference like that.
    Obviously in cases of abuse people should speak up (to CPS, etc).
    It’s probably a very American cultural thing, but I think I’m inclined to look out for me and mine first, and figure out how to handle that wrt someone else’s behavior (like @hush posted above re: football draft).
    I HATE unsolicited advice from anyone and even if it’s good advice it makes me NOT want to follow it. So I try very hard to bite my tongue and not offer advice unless asked. I tend to research things to death, though, so I have a hard time keeping the info to myself. I’m still working on that 😀
    Great points about commisseration vs. really wanting advice, too. I need to make sure that I’m listening well, first, before opening my big mouth…

  81. I prefilter who I respond to. The parent who is struggling needs compassion and to feel less alone. The parent who is doing fine from their perspective but is parenting in a way that isn’t effective is a much longer conversation. Even if they’re presenting that way outside only (and inside are struggling), the presentation of ‘this is how I parent, and I’m fine with it’ is a sure sign that advice and information are not welcome, for whatever reason.So, focus mainly on the parents who look like their on their last nerve, and be gentle with that last nerve! I tend to stick with commiseration and story-telling on myself, and the more it is ‘wow, kids are so different, so many different things work or don’t, on any given day, and some days nothing that ever worked is gonna work!’ in tone, the better. Some days my ‘advice’ is just a sympathetic smile and a shrug that says ‘some days it sucks, no? Me, too.’ And mainly if I get to a story that’s actual words, it illustrates something they haven’t tried in front of me, but mostly the intent is to offer two thoughts:
    1) You are not alone, we all struggle with this stuff
    and
    2) There may be another answer out there that works for your family, don’t give up
    I’m big on We culture instead of I culture, so I probably make some people uncomfortable. But often the real discomfort comes from people who have an I culture who try to act We – that is, the problem is that *I* am uncomfortable with what you are doing, and I want YOU to change it, so will cloak it in the ‘common good’ to get you to do what *I* want. ‘We’ is about drawing the circle around all of us, and putting the problem on the other side, with us collectively together. It’s tricky to get the wording right without practicing. Which isn’t to say that ‘we’ cultures don’t manipulate and abuse their friends and strangers with their approach – it happens there, too. But there are ways to make it work better.
    I have enough kids to know that what works for one is hell-on-earth for the next. Which is why I tend to focus on the many kinds of kids, many kinds of solutions stories – it may help present a different perspective if the parent is trying the same failed approach only harder, thinking it is The One Answer.
    I also tend to focus on the principles rather than the rules when it comes down to ‘advice’ type comments (only if that gets to a longer conversation, indicating they care to carry on talking). Because principles can be applied uniquely to the situation based on the family’s needs.
    And there’s always books. But even with the books, it is compassion first – oh, YEAH, been there, that’s such a challenge! I thought I had to figure it all out on my own, but then discovered that reading a couple different books gave me some more ideas, I could find strategies to suit my child if I looked around enough – not all will work, but it’s worth poking around in a few. (if it is a longer conversation, I let them ask for book titles if they’re interested, if it is a short/strangers conversation, I might mention a favorite book title).
    I also assume that one of my mom’s rules holds 100% true in parenting: It takes three different kinds of people to tell you something before you can hear it (and none of them can be your mom!).
    So I assume I’m just one of the voices. Which means I do want to speak up, so that they get the three voices to prompt from. At the same time, assuming I’m just one voice means I don’t have to be THE voice, and it is easier to not fret about needing them to Hear Me. And that takes the tone down automatically, really. I assume they will NOT Hear Me, really. But that I may be one data point that later becomes part of the puzzle that maybe takes them to a new idea or solution. The intention is not ‘You Must Fix That/Do It My Way’ but ‘if this is a problem for you, there are ways to help, have courage/strength/determination and a lot of luck, and you may find Something That Helps’.
    I find that people announce pretty clearly whether they are interested in collecting other ideas. If I’m not sure, I also find it doesn’t hurt matters to HONESTLY ask if they want any ideas (not ‘advice’, but ideas – advice suggests ‘what you SHOULD do is…’ where ideas are ‘things to put into the hopper, and take out/use only if suitable’).
    People will tell me clearly if they’re already up to their earballs in ‘helpful thoughts’, and while their stress comes through on the reply, it is probably somewhat better for them to have someone be able to a) ask if they even are interested, and b) back off completely without rancor if they’re not. Nothing like having someone respect the boundary by checking first to see where it is, no? And if there is a snap-back, indicating that they’re feeling judged by even the question, I can still reiterate the commiseration – Normal parents are normal parents, and being perfect is not optimal – muddling through each day is optimal.
    I hope that storytelling on myself is relatively safe – it keeps me and the other parent on the same side of the line, draws the circle around ‘we’ instead of between us (which advice often does – *I* would do it this way | *YOU* are doing it that way – divide between me and thee…). And everybody has a story.

  82. @Hedra: Perfect. Everything you wrote is exactly it, from my POV.A sentence that opens with ‘You should…’ (weather it’s about parenting or not) has always made my blood boil and essentially turns me off of whatever the person is about to say next. So I try really hard to eradicate this from my own communication with friends and others.
    And I couldn’t verbalize it to myself yesterday, but I totally have found that hearing things from different sources helps new ideas get through. So, in general, I like to hear ideas and ‘advice’ from friends and even acquaintances who have the ‘WE’ truly in mind. So, even if someone offers something up that rubs me the wrong way, if I know and feel that they are coming from a place of ‘WE’, then it’s pretty easy for me to shrug it off as just a well-meaning bad choice of words (or oversensitivity for whatever reason on my part).
    Listening well to what others are really saying is totally key in all of this, as you’ve pointed out. We’ll all get it wrong sometimes, but if it’s done with true compassion, then I think the good far outweighs the bad.

  83. @dregina Yes, here in the south we are passive aggressive. Might as well learn how to play the game. I just smile too sweetly, and say “Thanks, that sounds great” and go and do what I want to do.Just as an explanation, southern women are very strong and opinionated. And taught all our lives that Good Manners are the most important thing ever. So the end result is this Speak your mind busibodiness, hidden behind sweet words. But also know, that we really do want the best for our friends. It’s just that we know what’s best for everyone!

  84. It’s hard to think of anybody who was more important to exploitation films,” said Eric Schaefer, an expert on the exploitation genre and a professor of visual and media arts at Boston’s Emerson College.

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