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My 14 Commandments of Parenthood

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Photograph by Twenty20

1. I believe in doing my best to make sure my kid has an idea of the person you are outside of a parent. So I try to make sure my kid has an inkling of what I do by day, and tell him why I do certain things. My son was shocked to learn I do not enjoy cleaning.

2. I believe in following up on punishments or threats. Once I told my son that he had five minutes to finish his dinner or else he would get no dessert. My alarm buzzed at five minutes and he started wailing. I did not relent: I picked him up to take him to bed. He was so mad he threw up in my hand. While I learned that my son really wanted dessert, he also learned that I really do not play.

3. I believe in saying I'm sorry after my kid and I have a disagreement. I want him to know that I'm only human, and that it's good to practice clearing the air with someone you care about.

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4. I believe in having high expectations for my awesome kid. If you go into the first dental appointment or the first swim class or the first day of potty training dreading it and expecting a battle, your child will pick up on that vibe and probably deliver that which you most fear.

5. I believe that teachers, daycare providers and experienced childcare givers know way more than I ever will, and that it will be good for everyone to let them know I'm on their side and to find out how I can make their jobs easier.

I believe we all have our little ways of getting through the day that other parents would totally judge us for.

6. I don’t see what's remotely wrong with doing things for my own pleasure or interest as a parent. My kids should see that I have a life outside of them and thus learn that the world is an interesting place and that all sorts of relationships are important.

7. I believe we all have our little ways of getting through the day that other parents would totally judge us for. We have a bag of M&Ms in our pantry that I have used to reward things like going potty, sitting still for toenail cutting and successfully buttoning buttons.

8. It’s okay to not give a lot of presents at holidays and birthdays.

9. It’s also okay to give presents for no particular reason.

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10. I believe in knowing when to back off and letting a kid succeed or fail on his own. My kid started doing so much better at swim class when his dad and I got out of the pool and let him work on his own terms with his swim teacher. Before that, he learned to walk and learned how to zip up his coat when we weren’t watching.

11. I believe that teaching “please” and “thank you” and being a nag about it is the very least any of us can do.

12. I believe it’s okay to not want to play with your kids all the time. Sometimes I don’t want to get on my hands and knees and crawl into the closet to play Mommy Horse and Baby Horse, okay? Hopefully saying no won't destroy him for life.

13. I believe in choosing my battles and being open to the path of least resistance. There are just going to be some days where it’s iPad and microwave dinner, no bath and one mega-short book at bedtime.

14. I believe in telling my child any time the thought crosses my mind that I love him or I think he’s doing a great job or that I’m proud of him.

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