The moment you fall pregnant with your first child, it starts. The advice. Advice on feeding and burping and sleeping routines. Advice on discipline and suitable activities and schooling. Advice on everything that may or may not ever come up as a parent.
Some of the advice is welcome. Some of the advice is solicited. But a lot of the advice is thrust on you whether you want it or not.
(My personal favourite type is the advice offered by random strangers in the supermarket who also feel they have a constitutional right to touch a pregnant woman’s belly without asking first.)
In the six years since my first pregnancy, I’ve received hundreds of pieces of parenting advice — some useful, some profound, and some downright stupid. So it’s somewhat ironic that the best parenting advice I ever received was neither advice nor about parenting.
It was a story about a cat.
A family came home from the pet shop with a brand new kitten. They played with it, helped it get settled in, and then left it to explore the house. A few hours later, they heard a strange sound — almost like something tearing.
Dad followed the sound. The new kitten was sharpening his claws on the back of the couch. “No you don’t!” he said. “There’s no using the furniture as a scratching pole!” Then he picked up the kitten and put it outside.
“That’ll teach him,” Dad said.
And it certainly did. To this day, the cat scratches the back of the couch every time he wants to go outside.
Children are a lot like animals — they learn a lot more from what you DO than from what you SAY.
Make sure you’re teaching your children what you think you’re teaching your children.
Because a twenty minute lecture on the importance of reading means nothing if they never see you pick up a book.