Here’s My Ultimate Parenting Technique For Being Around Obnoxious Kids You Can’t Stand
I never really liked kids. Until I had my own. I thought babies were cute and little kids could sometimes be funny, and I adored my nephew, but I sort of felt kids were messy and obnoxious and loud and annoying. It wasn’t until I had kids of my own that I realized that they truly are all of those things. And that’s okay. Everyone should be allowed to be loud and obnoxious and annoying at different points of their life, especially when they aren’t even old enough to understand how obnoxious they are being. And this is why kids have parents.
Yesterday’s Anonymous Mom column where the writer stated she “Couldn’t Stand Her Germ Factory Nephews” really resonated with a lot of you readers, and I was sort of surprised at how many of you are dealing with kids who you also have a hard time tolerating.
This is my advice for all parents, even the parents who wrote these comments because here’s the deal, and this is true for EVERYONE:
No one likes your kid as much as you do. No one.
This bears repeating, no one likes your kid as much as you, the person who gave birth to them. Except maybe a grandparent. They may like them as much as you do, but they don’t count because they still get to give them back to you when they stop liking them as much (possibly during an over-tired tantrum) so they are biased.
Now listen to me, smug mama, before you go getting all defensive and saying oh no, everyone loves my kids, they are adorable and darling and well-behaved and mannered and they smell like baby powder and everything they do is charming and precious and darling, I’m going to be the one, possibly the only one, who will tell you this: that’s bullshit.
No one likes your stupid kid as much as you do.
So how do you deal with the obnoxious kids you can’t stand when you visit a friend or relative? You don’t. That’s their parent’s job.
Every parent, every single parent, and I don’t care how perfect you think your kids are, owes it to the world to teach your kids manners. This is one of your jobs as parents. I’m sorry. This is a fact. If you didn’t feel like dealing with this simple law then maybe you shouldn’t have had that extra glass of wine and let your partner do that one thing you like so much back before you didn’t have kids.
The manners that I include in this are not all-inclusive and yes, you have to play it by ear in certain situations but if you are smart enough to wake up in the morning and smart enough to brew a cup of coffee you are smart enough to figure out how to play it by ear in certain situations.
When a baby comes to visit, as soon as that baby comes in your door you say loudly, and loudly enough so that whatever parent is schlepping that baby through your front door hears you, that everyone in the family has to wash their hands. Then you march your kids into the bathroom and have them wash their hands.
You explain to them that babies are new, and that with all new things that are delicate, we are careful around them. We do not touch them without asking. We do not make loud noises around them. If your kid has a cold? Keep them away from the baby. Hand them your damn cell phone and tell them to take pictures of the baby from a distance. Or sit them down with a pile of paper and some crayons and have them draw pictures for the new baby while you visit.
Even the smallest kid can be taught that when a new baby visits or when they go to visit a new baby that all this kid can basically do is smile at the baby. And quietly talk to the baby.
If you are visiting someone with kids there are laws too. If your kids have dirty shoes, make them take them off at the front door. Furniture is not to be jumped on. They should really say please and thank you. They shouldn’t terrorize any pets in the house. If your kid is a small toddler and they cannot follow these rules then you are there to HELP them. This is YOUR job as a parent. Bring with a special bag of stuff they rarely see including books and small toys. Parent your kid. That’s a novel idea isn’t it? Parent the kid you are the parent of.
If you have older kids and they are roughhousing make sure they are all OK with it. Throw them all outside. I’m fine with kids beating the crap out of each other but they shouldn’t do it inside where they can break stuff and they also need to know that if they get wild and someone gets hurt that is the risk they take with doing so. There is no genital punching or eye poking or hair pulling. THERE IS NO BITING IN ROUGHHOUSING. What the hell is wrong with you people? Your kid bites someone and you make them apologize and you make sure the other kid is okay and YOU apologize to the other parent and you haul your kid home and send them to bed. Biting is nonnegotiable. If you have a biter and you know it then maybe you shouldn’t be taking them on playdates until they have learned this is not something people do.
Sneaky kids? It’s not cute. If they want to play with your kid you tell them they have to play within watching distance of you and if they are still being all creepy and whispery you make them do something together NOT FUN, like alphabetizing books or arranging soup cans in the kitchen.
A big gathering where there may be people who don’t have kids and don’t like kids? Don’t let your kids treat them like a jungle gym, unless this person sincerely exclaims they love kids who treat them like a jungle gym. Any kid beyond diaper age can be taught how to shake a hand and smile politely and keep their distance unless asked not to. Most childless by choice people will HAPPILY read a book to your kid. They may have zero interest in holding your baby and you should NOT force that on anyone. If you sense the person even seeming vaguely uncomfortable around your kid, distract them. Take your kid away. Easy-peasy.
If you are visiting a kid and they start doing something awful then do what I do, which is to explain loudly to MY KID that “Hey, ____ is screaming at the top of their lungs and throwing mashed potatoes at the curtains and talking about their butt. They are allowed to do that because this is THEIR house but YOU are not allowed to do that.” On occasion, the other kid will quit, or any decent parent will step in and discipline their own kid, but at the very least you won’t be the parent of the kid acting like an asshole.
And that is your job as a parent. And here’s my ultimate parenting technique:
Don’t have a kid who is an asshole.
(Photo: Getty Images)