Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Unsolicited Advice: Empty Next Version

I saw this piece that contains advice from parents whose kids have left the house to parents who still have little kids in the house.  Of course, my first reaction is: hey, parents with little kids have no time to read this and no energy to follow this advice.  I remember how exhausting it was to have one little kid in the house.  Having more than one?  Oy.

Anyhow, some of it is good, some of it is impractical, some silly.

  • Record conversations with them about whether or not there is a Santa or God.  People worry enough about the surveillance state without us dragging out our phones/ipads/whatever recording device whenever a conversation with our kid(s) get interesting.
  • One hunk of advice is not advice--time is precious.  But the text beneath it is good--embrace the family vacation.  Once they get older, holidays and summers do get more complicated.
  • Get to know their friends. Sure.  We were inconsistent with that--we knew Kid Spew's friends far better than Teen Spew's. 
  • Have family dinners.  For some this is impractical.  For us, we did this nearly every day and our daughter managed to dominate the conversations somewhere along the way.  I forget when that started.  
  • Go to every play, sporting event, awards assembly you can.  Yep.  I missed a few along the way due to travel, but was there for most of this stuff.  Of course, this is easier when you don't enroll your kid in four or five activities at the same time.  Our kid tended to pursue one activity at a time and then drop it and move on.  Tiger parents we were not.
  • Listen from the front seat while chauffering around.  Hard to avoid if you have a talkative kid.  Sure, we ended up listening to podcasts the past few years, but they often provided us with more fodder for more talking.  If you don't get it by now, yes, we have a talkative family where I am often the quiet one.  Really.  No, really.
  • Keep the kids secrets.  Sure.
  • Help your kid figure out their strengths and interests.  Well, yeah.  Not sure why empty nesters have to tell anyone this.  
  • Same goes for be affectionate.  Of course.  Again, this is not the wisdom of empty nesters.
  • At the end of the year, sit down with your kid and write down their memories of the past year.  Sure, this is an annual thing you only have to do about 16 times or so.  But really?  Interrogate your kid on an annual basis?  Isn't this what Facebook is for--noting in your account what has been going on?  I sent out annual letters with our holiday cards that detailed the year in Kid/Teen Spew.  Sorry, by the way, as we missed this year's card due to work and flu.   This is the kind of thing that separates the ambitious parents from relaxed (lazy?) ones like myself.
  • Unplug when the kid talks to you.  "You can check email when the kid goes to bed." Some of us work out of the house and also use computers and other screens for much of our entertainment.  So, no on this one.  Yes, in terms of paying attention during meals and when the kid has a serious concern, but one can turn away from a screen temporarily without turning offf the machine.  
I am still trying to figure out this empty nesting.  The good news is that technology allows us to be connected without being intrusive via email, facebook, skype/facetime.  I certainly don't miss having to chauffeur the kid even as I miss having the kid in my car.   Things are definitely less interesting without Kid/Teen Spew around.  I get more sleep, but I am pretty sure I prefer less sleep and more kid time.  Just not the less sleep we got when she was zero to five.  That was not so much fun. 

I would say that every year of parenting this kid was better than the previous one with this year being the first year that is not true.  Why? Because she ain't around anymore.  How could that be better than High School Senior Spew?

1 comment:

William B. Heller said...

Listening to back-seat conversations when you're driving. Sometimes you'd rather not. There were several occasions when I said to a daughter and her friends "you know I can hear you, right?"