Parenting advice from a non-parent

By Anne Collier

It’s fine for people who aren’t parents to weigh in on parenting-these-days – aunts, uncles, grandparents, and children do all the time – but why market your article or post as a non-parent? Anyway, columnist Frank Bruni at the New York Times did. I agree with some of what he wrote (that parenting these days is pretty over-thunk), really like some of it (I’ll get to that in a minute), and find some of the clever writerliness pretty annoying, some of it sounding like “Grumpy Old Man” on Saturday Night Live a couple of decades ago. Remember when comedian Dana Carvey played him? Don’t you think Grumpy Old Man was amazingly foresighted (and plays in our heads to this day) when, for example, he said (as I found in Hulu)…

“In my day, we didn’t have TV. We had radio, and you couldn’t see anything. And it was primitive and lousy, and … that’s the way it was and we LIKED it!… Today, everybody’s spoiled rotten. When I was a boy, we didn’t have these videogames. We made up our own games, like ‘Chew the Bark Off the Tree.’ You and your friends would find a nice oak tree and start chewin’ the skin off of it, and there were no winners. Everybody was a loser, rotting your teeth … and that’s the way it was, and [pounds fist on table] we LIKED it. We LOVED it!”

The part of Bruni’s article I really liked was where he suggests that parents cut themselves some slack. Even with “digital footprints,” I so agree that “no one false step … is going to consign your children to an entirely different future [yes, even in a digital age]. Make sure that they know they’re loved.” There actually is no better parenting advice than that last sentence, no matter who it comes from, whether technology’s a factor or not – just to state the obvious. Love is parents’ and kids’ source code.

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