As the father of three teenagers, here’s what I know about raising healthy, happy kids: Don’t ever let them know Walmart is open 24 hours. Seriously, it’s a parenting mistake that opens a big blue Pandora’s box of late-night trips for this and unnecessary angst over that. In the past week, I’ve soothed tantrums (yes, that’s an accurate description) over cookies for tomorrow’s lunch, chapped lips and having no “healthy food” to eat at 11 p.m. (When actually, nothing consumed at that hour is likely good for you.)
Doctors and parenting experts would probably recommend that I not give in to my kids’ whining. “It only reinforces the bad behavior,” they’d say.
To which I’d like to respond, “No, shit.” (Yes, my kids also have potty mouths — but I blame my wife.)
Now, no one is suggesting that there haven’t been mistakes made. In fact, a great many mistakes have been made, whether it was plopping our oldest down to watch The Lion King whenever he wanted or allowing our youngest to crawl into our bed at night.
But if you think adulting is hard, try doing it while having kids.
Sometimes, it’s difficult to know where to find good advice. Your grandma, parents, best friend, Uncle Ernest — they all have opinions. A doctor once even recommended that we cut out the bottom of a Pringles can and slide it over my middle daughter’s arm so she couldn’t suck her thumb at night. She eventually gave up her thumb-sucking without resorting to such desperate measures.
In this month’s annual “Top Doctors” cover feature, we’ve assembled experts to help soothe your worries about creating an effective birth plan, getting more zzz’s for the entire family, conquering potty training and making good use of screen time. We’ve got inspirational stories of families overcoming medical adversity and new moms on what it’s like meeting their newborns for the first time.
But if you only take one thing from this issue, remember the wisdom of Lake Health gynecologist Dr. Wendy Clinger. “With kids, no matter how hard you try, it’s not going to go by your initial plan,” she says.
So when shit happens — on the floor, the walls or right through that favorite onesie — it’ll be OK. Walmart is open 24 hours.