The most important piece of advice I could offer to a parent-to-be is "never say never".
It is something to embrace wholeheartedly as a parent. I promise that if you do, it will save you hours of frustration and guilty feelings. Never say never, because you will most likely be eating that word, along with a big piece of humble pie, at some point in your life.
Before becoming parents, my husband and I were notorious for being the "We will never..." couple. Not that we would ever say anything to an offending parent directly, but we definitely discussed the "never" scenarios with each other. We were going to be perfect parents, raising perfect children.
Well, I prefer my humble pie a la mode.
We will never let our children use a pacifier. It's a bad habit!
Ha! That idea flew out the window before the end of day ONE with Monkey. He just wouldn't stop crying in the hospital and after I had tried feeding him 6 times, changed his diaper 10 times, and rocked him for what felt like hours, I finally gave in to a pacifier. It worked like a charm! He quieted right down, was happy, and fell fast asleep. Lesson learned.
We will never order off the kids menu for our children. It's expensive and a waste! They can eat some of whatever we order!
And on the same note:
We will never let our children scream in a restaurant. It's so rude to the other customers - especially those without kids!
Guess what? I have a picky eater, a.k.a. a toddler. He doesn't want to eat my food. He wants his own food. And right now, all he eats is grilled cheese. I don't want to eat grilled cheese every time we go out. I want my own food. Plus, if I'm going to get through the meal without the screaming, I had better just order the dang grilled cheese!
We will never let our children run around like banshees in a store. It's ridiculous that people can't control their kids!
I promise you, I try really hard to not be "that mom", but there are times when it is flat out IMPOSSIBLE to keep Monkey still and anywhere in the vicinity of where I want him. Add the whole infant situation and there's no way I'm going to always have control. I try, I really do. But Monkey is smart. He figured out within days of Budsy's arrival that there are certain things I cannot do when I have the baby in my arms. Like run after him or grab him out from under a display table.
And this one is a doozy:
We will never threaten or bribe our children to get them to do or not do something. It's all about authority - who's in charge? You or your kids?! Teach your children to follow directions!
Wow! We were so naive!
There are a few things we've learned since becoming parents regarding this one:
First - When kids are toddlers, THEY are the ones in charge. Even if it's not apparent on the surface, believe me, they are. As a parent, you should try really hard to not let them know this. And, regarding directions, the saying is true - trying to get a toddler to follow directions is like trying to herd cats. Try it. You'll see.
Second - It's perfectly legitimate to NOT give a child dessert if they refuse to eat their dinner. It's acceptable, encouraged even, to go straight home if your kid throws sand/sticks/rocks one more time. And sometimes going to bed without books and songs might be just what a kid needs if they're throwing a temper tantrum at bedtime.
And Third - Regarding bribery... *ahem*... we try to limit the treats to a few a day. Now, don't worry, treats aren't necessarily candy and other sweets. They also come in the form of fish crackers, 5 more minutes, trips to the toy store (to play, not to buy - I'd be broke!), and episodes of Thomas the Train. But I tell you what, it's nice to have a few tricks up my sleeves to get Monkey to do things like put toys away, or get dressed, or stop whining because his train fell off the tracks yet again.
These were just a few of the "never" statements that were made over the years prior to having our kids. Over the last couple of years, I have luckily learned to live by my own advice - Never say never.
Who knows? I may even invest in one of those child leashes one of the these days...