Parenting Decisions: What Would You Do, If You Were Tom?

My wife and I got married and had kids. Oh, what little darlings they were. There was the one that had to touch everything, and it was decided that it was my job to follow him around to keep him from breaking things wherever we went while my wife sat and enjoyed conversation with whomever we had come to visit. Then there was the one who would scream inside the car such that it would make your vision go blank and tears spring to your eyes. I'll never forget her little satisfied smile when I pulled her out of her car seat and sat her down in the grass at the side of the street for a "time out."

In the beginning there are lots of decisions. Do you try to make a go of having one person stay home full time with the baby? Do you choose a religious nursery school or a family day care situation? With whom do we feel safe leaving the baby? How should we handle issues around food and eating?

A lot of decisions were easy for us to make.

My wife: "The book says the person who is not with the baby as much will do the toilet training. That would be you."

Me: "Okay, honey."

Actually I was an ace toilet trainer. I used the method outlined in the book, "Toilet Training in Less Than A Day" by Nathan Azrin with the full expectation that, ya, this is gonna take more than a day. And it invariably did, but the method did ultimately work and it was a positive and I could even say fun experience. I was so good at it that I should have really hired myself out and made money at it. "Tom Rubenoff, Professional Toilet Trainer" has a nice ring to it.

Many, many issues were decided in the same way. My wife did research to find out the correct approach while I was out working my butt off as the sole bread winner of the family. Naturally I agreed with her almost all the time and that was good because almost all the time, she was right.

Letting one parent take the lead is not a bad way to arrange parental decision making as long as the subordinate parent is willing to fully support the dominant parent. When there is dissent between the parents it becomes difficult to accomplish anything.

The United Front

When presenting a new policy or raising an issue with the kids, it is important to present a united front. There should be consensus between both parents before the parents meet with the kids. One parent will usually be more dominant, or at least more aggressive in their opinions. The less dominant, or less aggressive, parent's job is to not let the more dominant or aggressive parent walk over them, because you need to get any differences resolved before you confront the kids. In other words, if there is a difference of opinion, settle it fully beforehand. You want the kids to listen, so don't exceed their attention span trying resolve differences live during the discussion.

On the other hand, sometimes it is a very good thing if the kids are included in the discussion, because then they have a chance to observe their parents brainstorming and resolving issues in an (hopefully) adult manner. This, however, requires another kind of being united, that is, you and your spouse must be united in the willingness to discuss. If one of you is going to react strongly to some of the bizarre and totally illogical suggestions the kids (or the other parent) might make, most of the family may leave feeling that their opinion is not valued and discussion is a waste of time, making sincere participation in future discussions that much more unlikely.

The Teenage Years

Along at about the age of twelve or so a strange thing happens to your kid. Up until then they used to like to cuddle, be read to, ask you for knowledge or advice, but then they turn into... somebody else! And chances are you won't like this new person very much. You will wish you had your kid back. The person will be angry, belligerent, hygiene-challenged, and think you are the most stupid person they have ever met.

It has been said to me that parenting a teenager is like trying to nail Jello to a tree. A little bit sticks. That's what you've got to accept.

The hardest part about parenting a teenager is letting them make their own mistakes. Natural consequences are the best. Try to let them figure it out.

My experience is that if you police the homework and overprotect the kid from experiences you would rather them not have, you will raise a kid who is unprepared for the world. The teenager wants to take their life in their own hands, ready (in your estimation) or not. The best thing for you to do? Pick your battles. Whenever you can, let them do what they want and find out what happens. You will avoid needless conflict and let the kid learn his lessons in a way they are bound to remember.

Give the kid an alarm clock. If the kid can't get their ass up to get to school on time, let the school deal with it. Let the kid talk to a vice principal or a guidance counselor. If the kid doesn't want to do their homework, fine. "It's your future," tell them. You can praise good grades and punish bad ones. You can get your kid help if they need it. You can help your kid with school if they let you. But you can't help your kid if they won't let you, so you'd be better off not to try. Let them learn their own lessons about punctuality and work ethic.

Naturally there are limits. You need to get between your kid and drugs any way you can. To an extent you need to keep your kid out of danger. But since you cannot really control what they do to any great extent, you need to trust their judgment. You try not to let your daughter go out with people you don't know to an undisclosed destination at night. You try not to let your son hang out with people who are engaged in criminal activity. But you know what the bottom line is? You might be able to slow them down, but it is very unlikely that you are going to stop them from doing what they want to do. Sometimes all you can do is be there to pick up the pieces.

Eventually you get your kid back, older, wiser, stronger. All you both have to do is survive that hairy in-between time.

I am very interested in what you have to say. Looking forward to your opinions and experiences posted in comments.

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Comments 85 comments

Abhishek87 profile image

Abhishek87 7 years ago from India

Presently I am more closer to the teenage belligerent kid (having been one of them till a few years back) :) than to being the parent. What I absolutely agree on is let him make mistakes and the fact that 'its my future'. 

I have felt so angry at times because I was not treated the way I expected to be, I mean you have to understand that since that teenage change, the kid will think and try to act like an adult. You would know that he needs advice but DON"T give it to him until he asks. If there are mistakes, he'll ask. Let him come to you, don't go running at every step 

Great great hub again Tom :)


funride profile image

funride 7 years ago from Portugal

I´m still LOL with "Tom Rubenoff, Professional Toilet Trainer" :D

But to be honest I´m a bit scared with the Teenage Years... my daughter is still 4 years old and I´m already afraid of her adolescence. I must be getting old... eheheheh


Abhishek87 profile image

Abhishek87 7 years ago from India

:D :D


Tom Rubenoff profile image

Tom Rubenoff 7 years ago from United States Author

The teenage years are just plain scary, as well as frustrating for both sides. Try to keep a sense of humor and when you have to, just walk away.


Chef Jeff profile image

Chef Jeff 7 years ago from Universe, Milky Way, Outer Arm, Sol, Earth, Western Hemisphere, North America, Illinois, Chicago.

Work together and be strong!

Cheers! Chef Jeff


Tom Rubenoff profile image

Tom Rubenoff 7 years ago from United States Author

It might be easier if your family lived on an island with no other people and no television, radio, or Internet.


funride profile image

funride 7 years ago from Portugal

So true Tom, so true...


Abhishek87 profile image

Abhishek87 7 years ago from India

Now thats a great idea :) but one that cannot be implemented now that we live where we live :|


Tom Rubenoff profile image

Tom Rubenoff 7 years ago from United States Author

If only I could have planned better. I guess that woulda been Planned Parenthood, eh?


Abhishek87 profile image

Abhishek87 7 years ago from India

Yeah, But I guess however you may plan, the plan is not going to run for long :P


Tom Rubenoff profile image

Tom Rubenoff 7 years ago from United States Author

You're just like my kids! You have an answer for everything :0)


Abhishek87 profile image

Abhishek87 7 years ago from India

Thats why we think of ourselves as Bond, James Bond :P ( and are a pain in the ass) ...


Tom Rubenoff profile image

Tom Rubenoff 7 years ago from United States Author

Nonsense. Our children are a delight and we would gladly lay down our lives for them. (Even if they are a little annoying sometimes)


Amanda Severn profile image

Amanda Severn 7 years ago from UK

Tom, that toilet training thing. I have a girl who grasped the concept in a single day aged not quite two, and a boy who took at least six months, and still, aged ten, very occassionally sleeps a little too soundly, if you get my drift. Do you think (being an expert) that boys and girls differ here?

I'm only just into teenage years with my daughter, but so far, so good. I listen to my friend's horror stories with my fingers crossed so as not to tempt fate! From what I've seen and heard, the girls do have a head start on the boys when it comes to moods and stroppy behaviour. They're prbably making up for the false sense of security they lulled us into with the easy potty-training!


Abhishek87 profile image

Abhishek87 7 years ago from India

Well , yeah thats pretty much what we think about you too :)


Tom Rubenoff profile image

Tom Rubenoff 7 years ago from United States Author

Hi Amanda, I am no expert, but I have read that boys usually wear diapers longer and take longer to toilet train. We bore that in mind and trained the boy later than the girls and it worked out fine. He'll doubtless grow out of the wetting. In the mean time, keep buying that economy size laundry soap.

Between the peer pressure, the backstabbing by so-called friends, the constant bombardment by every kind of media with sexual messages, not to mention mature phyical features that they can't use and don't need, there is a lot going in in and around a teenage girl. One has to be heavy on the love even when they are growling at you like a wild animal at certain phases of the moon. It really takes all one's energy to shovel sand against the tide of messages aimed at one's teenager.


Amanda Severn profile image

Amanda Severn 7 years ago from UK

You can say that again. Girls are political animals from the get-go. They know how to play games with each others feelings from such an early age and it can be painful to watch. Also there's all the peer pressure and media pressure to present themselves in a certain way, and if they don't fit the mould, then they just end up miserable. I'm sure it's always been the same to some extent, but that doesn't make it any easier.


Abhishek87 profile image

Abhishek87 7 years ago from India

Hey, we also have the peer pressure and media pressure :D Its just that we don't throw tantrums :P


Jerilee Wei profile image

Jerilee Wei 7 years ago from United States

Having survived raisng five teenagers and now a granddaughter living in the same house, I'm damn glad to not be still the "parent."

With the vantage of hindsight, I know that to counter-act this media hyped world, they need to be kept constructively busy during their teen years, as much as humanly and parentally possible. They need consquences beyond what the world will give them, because the world could care less what kind of adult they grow into. They need to be removed from their comfort zone of "friends" periodically to see a different world even if it's against their will, i.e. family vacations sans text messaging and cells. Sounds abritrary, but it made all the difference.


Tom Rubenoff profile image

Tom Rubenoff 7 years ago from United States Author

Political, that's the word I was looking for. Thanks, Amanda.

I still throw tantrums. Do you mean that other adults do not?

Thank you for the wisdom of your experience, Jerilee. The family vacation has indeed been a cleansing and balancing influence, though yes indeedy they are reluctant to go. We take them camping :0)


eovery profile image

eovery 7 years ago from MIddle of the Boondocks of Iowa

Tom,

I have been pretty blessed. 

1st, I married a pre-school teacher, who as we had children, did not work, but stayed home and devoted her time to the children.  Also, we are very very active in our church and are children are too.

So far this has resulted in everyone of my children have been in the top of their classes.  And their teachers just rave about how they love working with our children.  Also, our children have earned all of the citizenship awards at school, and are very well behaved. We have encourage both boys in scouting, along with sports in school.  Both boys are eagle scouts and active in the community.

Since the youngest is now school my, wife is an aide at school.  All of the teachers have learned of her pre-school background and new understand how our children were always were prepared and ahead of the rest of the class.

My oldest who is 20 is now on a church mission, and my next one, who will be graduating soon, is preparing to go on his mission with in a year.

With our children we basically took away previleges such as TV, Video games, and computer, when they mis-behaved, and this generally has worked out good for us.

My wife, when we visited people and family, tried to make sure our children had activities to do to keep them busy so they would not get in trouble.

As in their teenage year, the church standards helped a lot, for our children find other students you did not party, and would hang out with them to do video games, movies, bowling, and other safe activities. 

I hope this helps other on their decisions on parenting.  As I said, my wife is the expert on this, I was just the enforcer.  I have tried to be close to my children and show them my love, and that they can always come to me when they have problems.

Thanks,

And Keep on Hubbing.


Pam Roberson profile image

Pam Roberson 7 years ago from Virginia

Tom, you've already got this figured out. The big one is having a united front. Young kids and teenagers are so skilled at pitting one parent against the other, If they know mom will say YES, then they ask her first and approach dad with...well, mom already said I could go! Anyway, you're right about all of it as far as I'm concerned.

Homework, cleaning their rooms, getting out of bed, all that stuff is a battle that doesn't need to go beyond letting them learn the consequences for themselves. I never fight over the mess in my teenager's rooms, if they want to live in a pig pen, then so be it. I keep their doors closed. BUT if they want friends over to visit, it has to be cleaned up, because I'm not going to be held responsible for an injury when someone slips on a plate or gets suffocated by a pile of clothes. lol! ;)

Good job! :D


G-Ma Johnson profile image

G-Ma Johnson 7 years ago from NW in the land of the Free

No Matter what you say or do  your children NEED your guidance through out their entire lifes...You are the Parent...I remember once when my son was at a Party that I was totally against( and he had lied to me) and when I found out I went there...took him by his ear at the front door...in front of everyone and brought him home...DO NOT let them get the best of what you know is right...

I always had them invite their friends to our house so I was  there to over see things.

when one of my daughters wanted to date a boy who drove..I made  him take me for a drive...music on loud and my daughter in the back seat and ME asking all sorts of questions...I yelled so he had to stop quickly and so on...He passed my test ( which I explained to him)  ..she was mortified but they dated for a long time and I felt safe...

As long as you and your partner agree and stand beside what rules you set they will have a fighting chance in life...DO NOT doubt yourself...you are older and have been through much more then they can ever know...we learn from out mistakes...so is fine to allow them to make some...You seem to be doing a Great job...:o) G-Ma Hugs & Peace


Lifebydesign profile image

Lifebydesign 7 years ago from Australia

Tom, some great points here and as a parent I totally get it.

When my son was young everyone was dreading the teenage years and I've been making a conscious effort to ground him in morals and character - we talk about virtues like determination, kindness, assertiveness, fairness alot with the intention that he will develop a solid internal, rather than a more fleeting external, set of distinctions to make his decisions. He's 10 btw.

The real pre-teen years are extremely important in nurturing values in our kids that they aspire to. They're extremely easily influenced by their peers and other role models outside the home and to have someone in their life that they admire who can model for them other possibilities, greater stretches and noble capacities of ourselves can be refreshing and inspiring for them.

At heart we yearn for beauty - the beauty of ideas, or character, of nature, of design. It 's never too late to inspire these virtues in our children. But the hard part, and I know :), is doing it and constantly modelling it myself and showing what's inherently possible in my own character and the life I lead. :-)


Tom Rubenoff profile image

Tom Rubenoff 7 years ago from United States Author

Hi Eovery!

In some ways we had kind of a similar experience. Although we started out more as learn as you go parents, my wife really took the lead when our eldest was diagnosed with a delay in speech processing and formulation at the age of three or four. She got him everything he needed to surpass his delay and mainstream into regular grade school by first grade. For him the good news was that his considerable intellect allowed him to learn to process and formulate language - skills that most of us attain naturally as we develop. Having learned so much in the process, my wife went on to become an educational advocate for children with developmental disabilities, and to become a strong voice for social curriculum in our elementary school.

The girls also benefitted from their mom's strong presence in the school, though they had no special needs to address. The elder chose her own path right from the start, ignoring fads and peer pressure on the way. The younger seems to be more susceptible, but you're right, Eovery, the key is to keep them busy. Both girls love drama. The elder, graduating from high school this year, has been accepted to prestigious collegiate programs in directing after having assisted in the production of three or four plays a year at the high school. The younger is an exception actor, singer, and dancer, and pursues all three. This keeps her somewhat out of the main fire hose media blitz of crap directed at teenagers in our society. Hebrew school was also of some help with social activities as well as the considerable learning kids go through in preparation for their Bar or Bat Mitzvah.

I know eventually all three of our kids will succeed and be happy. Thanks God all of them are sensitive, caring people (except maybe to us) who want to do well, to be creative, and to do the right thing.

Yes, Pam, without the united front, discipline is a joke. As you say, it's best to pick your battles, rather than spend every minute of your time trying to get your teenager to be neat, clean, thin, whatever. Who has that kind of energy?

Oh, ya, G-Ma, it has only taken the threat of Dad coming to get them to make my girls see the light. Embarrassment is a fate worse than death to a teenager. And they have no illusions. They know that if I say it, I'll do it!


Tom Rubenoff profile image

Tom Rubenoff 7 years ago from United States Author

Exactly, Lifebydesign. The pre-teen years are all you've really got before the nailing jello to a tree phase. We always engage our kids in discussions of right and wrong, social justice and ethics. Not that we stopped when they became teenagers. We just seemed to get rather less effective. Still, I think they listen, and maybe even hear, sometimes.


G-Ma Johnson profile image

G-Ma Johnson 7 years ago from NW in the land of the Free

good..because you can say anything you want...but it's what you do that counts...You seem a wonderful dad...:o) hugs G-Ma  & peace


blondepoet profile image

blondepoet 7 years ago from australia

Tom when are you launching your ,"Ask Tom" column.I will write to you seeking your advice about many things.

"Dear Tom it is said that when a man is troubled he retreats and takes time out in his imaginary den, where as women do the opposite. Is it true then that when my man Hugh Dunnit goes to his den after a fight I can poke my face in the entrance and growl and badger him"

You know so much about all subjects..... hang on your are not a counsellor or relationship expert by any chance are you?


Tom Rubenoff profile image

Tom Rubenoff 7 years ago from United States Author

Ha, ha, Blondepoet, you are such a booster! I am a relationship student in the hopes of improving myself. My favorite part of writing hubs like these is the discussion. It's such a great opportunity to learn from others' experience.


Nayberry profile image

Nayberry 7 years ago from nayphat@yahoo.com

This is a great hub. I am dealing with my first teenager and I have three more to go. The boys will be easier- so I have been told by so many more experienced parents, and I pray that is true. I am having the hardest time with my daughter. Sometimes I feel like I'm banging my head against a brick wall. Every time I set out rules, I am faced with "You are so old-fashioned! You don't know any thing! You don't know me like you think you do!"

I am so tired, but I keep trying. I have lost a lot of my life because she refuses to follow rules, but I am still trying. The worst part of it is that I am having to do it alone. Sometimes all I have left in me is to go in the bathroom and cry until I find the strength to face her again.

You are right when you say "Along at about the age of twelve or so a strange thing happens to your kid. Up until then they used to like to cuddle, be read to, ask you for knowledge or advice, but then they turn into... somebody else! And chances are you won't like this new person very much. You will wish you had your kid back. The person will be angry, belligerent, hygiene-challenged, and think you are the most stupid person they have ever met."

I have never met this person that my daughter has become, and sometimes I really do wish to have my little angel back. She used to be so loving and caring. I was once the greatest mom in the world. Now I am just a pain in her path.

Tootles.


Happy World profile image

Happy World 7 years ago from Slovenia, Europe

Good advise concerning teenagers. You are a good dad.


blondepoet profile image

blondepoet 7 years ago from australia

Oh Nayberry, I could not help but read your comments here. Why do children have to grow up? This must be such a hard time for you adjusting to the new changes their age is now bringing to their lives.Keep on loving them no matter how their lack of response seems to be, and when they move through these stormy,unpredictable years, their love for you will be burning bright visibly once again as it was. Everything you have imparted to them will shine through with their children and then their children again.They are so lucky to have such a loving Mum.xxxxx


Eldritch Elegy profile image

Eldritch Elegy 7 years ago

Thanks, Tom. Always helpful and entertaining.

You know, you should start an advice column. I did, even though I'm far from the brightest bulb in the warehouse, and so far it looks like I'm making a difference. I bet you'd probably save lives and marriages.


Tom Rubenoff profile image

Tom Rubenoff 7 years ago from United States Author

Thank you. That's very interesting, Eldritch. I had never considered it. How does one go about it?


Eldritch Elegy profile image

Eldritch Elegy 7 years ago

Well... I signed up to Advicenators.com, but it turns out that 90% of the questions on that site are preteens and teens asking questions about sex, which I find endlessly frustrating (I can only type "focus on your future" so many times before it starts to look like gibberish).

I'm thinking of looking into other sites, or just starting my own. I suppose you could use Weebly.com and its feedback form, and then post the questions and answers on a page.


Tom Rubenoff profile image

Tom Rubenoff 7 years ago from United States Author

Fascinating. Perhaps I'll do a little searching myself. Thanks so much for the tip!


jeff3600 profile image

jeff3600 7 years ago

Im still considered a teen since im 19 but in my opinion you started off wrong at the beginning. No offense but it kinda sounds like ur wife is the one who wears the pants in ur relationship. Like whatever she tells you to do, you do. Thats how my dad is with my mom. What ever my dad said was what happend. Both me, my sisters and my mom have grown to become very irritated with that way of thinking. My dad gets mad because thats how it is how things used to be. but now were all sick of it, so me and my sisters are "disobeying" him. He gets mad and flips out when my mom doesnt cook meat to perfection everytime. I hate it. I think that is a bad relationship, bad thinking, and not responsible. When you and your wife first had the kids you should both have had the responsibility of making sure the one child didnt touch things instead of you doing that and her chatting with the company. It might be a lil rude to do it my way, but people have kids, believe it or not they will understand.

Second, A BOOK! That is the worst desicion i believe a parent can make. A- using the book to raise a child. The book does not know the child how they will react and so on. As a parent you should know that. And if you dont then change. B- Just because one book says so does not mean its right. "oh honey the book says if he has a cold feed him honey and tea." WRONG. that actually may be infact right but not all books have 100% fact. most are based on studies doctors have done and what they BELIEVE is the right solution based on there test. C- your a parent. you have natural born instincts, that tell you how to raise a child. always FOLLOW YOUR GUT. otherwise you shouldnt be a parent.

However you did go right at somepoint. your correct you shouldnt argue over a punishment infront of the kids. My parents also still do that to this day. And i TOTALLY AGREE teens should be allowed to make mistakes and learn from them, THEMSELVES. Yes you should absolutly warn them ahead of time several times about everything. but in the long run you need to be able to give the teen some freedom and trust to make the right decision and if they screw up they get consiquences and learn from there actions. That is also were my parents failed. I was and still am very sheltered. yeah i learned what was right and wrong and stuff but i never really understood why until these last two years witch i have spent in college parent free and full of freedom. That is wear i have been learning the most. While im at home and being sheltered, i do indeed feel like a prisoner, and like they are trying to control me and my life and all my disitions and i hate it. thats why i love college i am free to live my own life and finally be me.


goldentoad profile image

goldentoad 7 years ago from Free and running....

jeff, the dumbest creature on the earth is a male human between the ages of 16-22.

Tom, good read, I' m in the potty training stage with mine, but I also want to let you know you were on the front page of the hot list as i write this. 3 AM sunday morning.

I know I shouldn't be up, but I took a long nap this evening and the beer is good.


Tom Rubenoff profile image

Tom Rubenoff 7 years ago from United States Author

Hi Jeff, I'll allow that maybe I shouldn't be a parent.   It doesn't matter really who wears the pants in the family, as long as somebody does.  I will say that parenting teenagers is one of the hardest jobs you'll ever love, to coin a phrase.  All the best to you on your journey.  

Mr. Golden, I smile as I remember those days.  Enjoy them.  They go way too fast.  All the best.  What a coincidence I was up, too, having a beer when I should have been in bed. Ah, well, I'm supposed to be in training. I'll get back on it.


Enelle Lamb profile image

Enelle Lamb 7 years ago from Canada's 'California'

Tom, I enjoyed your article. You nailed it with the united front part. I too like the title "Professional Toilet Trainer" lol...as for boys versus girls, they learn just as quickly, however, boys tend to become more engrossed in other things and 'forget' they need to be elsewhere.I have made it through one 'teenage era' with only a few bruises to show for it (so I claim that as a success) and will be facing another soon, with my son...a totally different story on many levels!Thanks for giving us a glimpse of the light at the end of the tunnel LOL


nohousekeeper profile image

nohousekeeper 7 years ago

My toddler, at 17 months old, showed great interest in learning to use the toilet. I thought that this was going to be a long and painful process because I keep hearing from people how difficult boys are, but I have found it to be quite the opposite. Also, I use cloth diapers which I think help since the child feels more wet than using disposable diapers. He is now 18 1/2 months old and primarily throughout the day only wears his cotton training pants and stays mostly dry. I think sometimes the worst thing for new parents is to listen to some of the folk wisdom like boys are less verbal, boys are more difficult to train, etc. So much of it stems from cultural biases about gender. And I have found so much of it all to just be untrue when you parent with an open mind as to what you will discover and you let the child be the child that s/he is meant to be.


Tom Rubenoff profile image

Tom Rubenoff 7 years ago from United States Author

Hi Enelle, if you get a functional human being out of a teenager, I think you're doing real good. Hey, Professional Toilet Trainer sounds like a career, doesn't it? LOL

Nohousekeeper, thank you so much for adding this. It is SO important not to assume the generalizations are true. Impirical observation beats statistics anytime.


LondonGirl profile image

LondonGirl 7 years ago from London

another wonderful article, thank you!

My cherub is only 3, so all these joys like ahead.....


Tom Rubenoff profile image

Tom Rubenoff 7 years ago from United States Author

Ha, LondonGirl, I would be envious but for my eldest's remarkable simularity to a 3-year-old!


charanjeet kaur profile image

charanjeet kaur 7 years ago from Delhi

Tom another feather in your cap!! love this article. My kiddo is turning two this april and the potty training trust me it is surely not a days work. But i would suggest for every kid you have to be patient and let her tell show signs if you are an observant parent you will know and read in between the lines.

My hubby and i are quite apprehensive about her growing up and we will surely turn out to be her bodyguards..


Patricia Costanzo profile image

Patricia Costanzo 7 years ago from Behind the Redwood Curtain

Tom your scaring me. I don't want my daughter to turn in to a teenager... could we just skip over that part? My mom always said teenagers weren't human. She wanted to have nothing to do with us from 13 to 17. I thought I was the exception to the rule of course.


Tom Rubenoff profile image

Tom Rubenoff 7 years ago from United States Author

Very good advice, Charanjeet, thank you!

Oh, Patricia, I'm sorry you're going to have a teenager. And of course we all thought we were the exception, didn't we? It was our parents who had the problem...


queen cleopatra profile image

queen cleopatra 7 years ago

babies are bundles of happiness, toddlers are magnets of troubles, and teenagers are bombs made of clashing hormones. but as a parent, i wouldn't want to change anything. i love my children as they are. i have three and i can't remember having any problem with potty trainings. thank you very much for the nice hub :)


Tom Rubenoff profile image

Tom Rubenoff 7 years ago from United States Author

The work is hard, but the pay can be good, your majesty.


Teresa McGurk profile image

Teresa McGurk 7 years ago from The Other Bangor

You have my admiration. It must be very difficult for parents to stand back and let kids make their own mistakes; mine did, and I appreciated it 95% of the time. Yet they were always there if I really needed them, and have been ever since. I was such an unruly teenager, in a quiet and sullen way, that I probably broke my Da's heart a few times. Reading your article helps me understand just what a brat I must have been. Thanks.


Tom Rubenoff profile image

Tom Rubenoff 7 years ago from United States Author

Oh, I was awful, Teresa. The fact that I now live with three teenagers in my house (one of them 21 yrs. old and almost twice my size) is only my own karma at work.


MissJamieD profile image

MissJamieD 7 years ago from Minnes-O-ta

Tom this is a great hub! I truly learned something from you here that will benefit my children for life. I have a daughter who will be 12 in August (also a 10 year old boy and 11 month old boy) and much of what you explained "happened" to your daughter during the prepubescent (sp?) years is beginning to rear it's ugly head in my baby girl. She's still sitting on that theoretical fence as of today, she still likes me most of the time, I do dread what's coming. But thanks to you, I honestly had a little weight relieved from my shoulders. You verified my own thoughts, that we can't nag them constantly or they won't hear a word. My hubby and I are legally separated but living together (hopefully not for long) but he is a horrible parent!! I'm not perfect, but I am a good parent. Our personal story is a long one, I won't bore you with the details, but my husband changes his punishments and his moods towards different issues so often that my kids were confused for many years. Luckily (I don't mean this to be bragadocious) they had me because they can come to me and tell me anything. My husband never agreed with me on punishment or anything else for that matter. It's been a horrible 12 year marriage, for my children especially. He's a narcissist and will do anything to portray opposition.

Anyway, sorry for hogging up so much space here, but I had to thank you for the great advice here. You've been there, so I appreciate and admire your patience, tenacity, and wisdom.

Good luck to you:) Great hub!

And as for the hubber that stated that you weren't being a very good parent..that's totally insane. It sounds to me like you and your wife were wonderful parents.


Tom Rubenoff profile image

Tom Rubenoff 7 years ago from United States Author

MissJamieD, thank you so much for sharing! You have added so much to this hub.

You have been denied the "united front" in your parenting, and you've had to deal with more opposition instead of the support you needed, yet you are still positive and still trying to be the best parent you can be for your kids.

As they say, don't worry too much about losing your twelve year old to puberty. You get them back after a while.


naliniram profile image

naliniram 7 years ago from hong kong

hello friend!


Tom Rubenoff profile image

Tom Rubenoff 7 years ago from United States Author

Hi there, Nalinram!

Jeff3600 came back to rebut me, but since Jeff used profanity, his comment is, of course, not here. Jeff was (apparently) upset because I chose to selectively comment on sections of Jeff's comment. Jeff took this to mean I didn't read Jeff's whole comment, but I in fact did. Jeff seems to assume that the relationship between his parents is the same as my relationship with my wife. I hope Jeff will see the error of this thinking, since everyone is different. That said, one can make generalizations about parents just as one can make generalizations about teenagers. One of Jeff's points highlights one of mine, that is of the united front. If one parent undermines the other's authority by expressing irritation, of course the kids are going to think the other parent is a tyrant and the bad guy. That is why it is so important not to express negative emotions about your spouse's position in front of the kids. If you disagree, hold your disagreement until you can discuss it privately. Jeff3600, please feel free to come back and denigrate me without profanity and I will happily publish your comment.


terrowhite profile image

terrowhite 7 years ago

Very nice informative hub for newbies and professionals too


Tom Rubenoff profile image

Tom Rubenoff 7 years ago from United States Author

Thanks very much, Terrowwhite. I hope it's food for thought.


Erick Smart 7 years ago

I actually feared the teen years but in the end they were not nearly as tough as the tween time. Teens can reason where tweens cannot so it is a lot easier to discuss things with your teen and they actually understand.


Tom Rubenoff profile image

Tom Rubenoff 7 years ago from United States Author

That's a very good point. The tweens are in many ways even rougher than the teens. However, I think it depends on the individual.


MissJamieD profile image

MissJamieD 7 years ago from Minnes-O-ta

Tom,

Thank you for the support. God knows I need it right now...lol

And thank you for replying to my comment. I appreciate that. I wish more hubbers would do so, so that we can learn from each other and possibly support each other.

Take care:)


Tom Rubenoff profile image

Tom Rubenoff 7 years ago from United States Author

You're quite welcome and I very much agree about the mutual support. It's a nice community here.


Rich_Id profile image

Rich_Id 7 years ago from Seattle

I like your perpspectives, Tom. You seem like a thoughtful, good dad. I identify, and I recently decided I had something to offer struggling parents. I invite you to visit my profile and see my parenting hubs, and I invite you to visit my parenting blog at http://bestparenthelp.info.

I love the idea of "ask Tom", and I would love to offer something like that at well. How would you go about it? Would you be interestied in teaming up?


Journey * profile image

Journey * 7 years ago from USA

Hi Tom, this is a great hub. Well written and really funny. The advice about getting the kids involved in the discussions is very wise.-Journey*


Mardi profile image

Mardi 7 years ago from Western Canada and Texas

I really like your ideas Tom. It is hard to stand back and be there to pick up the pieces, but to not be there would be tragic. I see a lot of parents that are enablers, which is just as destructive and ultimately more damaging for many children as they grow into adulthood and see Mommy and Daddy as the default option, with no responsibility for their own actions.


Tom Rubenoff profile image

Tom Rubenoff 7 years ago from United States Author

Hi Rich, I try to be a good dad. I think I need advice as much as I have the capacity to give it. I appreciate very much your invitation to work together, but since I work about 50 hours a week it might be difficult for me to be really available for a wider readership. I hope you understand.

Hi Journey, I'm glad you like this hub. I have learned a few things, but I still have much more to learn.

Ya, Mardi, it's easy just to give the kids something so that they will shut up. Hard to take the time to engage. Enabling seems like the easy way out but in the long run it comes back to bite the parent big time.


gracy.bonsu profile image

gracy.bonsu 7 years ago from United Kingdom

Very nice hub, The big one is having a united front. Young kids and teenagers are so skilled at pitting one parent against the other, If they know who is more dominating then they will ask some sort of permission to a non dominating person.


Tom Rubenoff profile image

Tom Rubenoff 7 years ago from United States Author

That is so true, Gracy! We get that all the time.


RVilleneuve profile image

RVilleneuve 7 years ago from Michigan

Wonderful to hear parenting from a man"s point of view. Great Hub and advice!


Tom Rubenoff profile image

Tom Rubenoff 7 years ago from United States Author

Thanks. RVill! I do try to think like a parent and not just like a man LOL


Benson Yeung profile image

Benson Yeung 7 years ago from Hong Kong

Sometimes I wonder how I survive the children. Lately, I more often wonder how my parents survived me.


Tom Rubenoff profile image

Tom Rubenoff 7 years ago from United States Author

Exactly. The old joke says that insanity is hereditary: we get it from our kids.


raiderfan profile image

raiderfan 7 years ago from Arizona

my kids drive me nuts! Hell yeah!


Tom Rubenoff profile image

Tom Rubenoff 7 years ago from United States Author

One of the fascinating things about kids is the fact that they want attention and whether that attention is positive or negative doesn't seem to matter so much. Either they get praise for good behavior, or they get a scolding and punishment for bad behavior. In some ways they actually get more mileage out of negative attention, because the parent has to try to make the punishment effective and the lesson learned which usually requires more parental involvement. A lot of times if your kids are doing something that drives you nuts and there's no harm in it, your best bet is to just ignore it. Because it is getting them no attention, lots of times the behavior will just go away.


gfang profile image

gfang 7 years ago from Southern California

"Give the kid an alarm clock. If the kid can't get their ass up to get to school on time, let the school deal with it. Let the kid talk to a vice principal or a guidance counselor. If the kid doesn't want to do their homework, fine. "It's your future," tell them. You can praise good grades and punish bad ones. You can get your kid help if they need it. You can help your kid with school if they let you. But you can't help your kid if they won't let you, so you'd be better off not to try. Let them learn their own lessons about punctuality and work ethic."

I this statement is missing something. Letting your kids learn their own lessons is fine to a point but give them a real incentive to succeed and they are likely learn the value of that success far more easily than if they are wallowing in their failure.


Tom Rubenoff profile image

Tom Rubenoff 7 years ago from United States Author

You are assuming that if you give your kid a chance to succeed on their own, they will fail. I say, they will have some minor setbacks that they will learn far more from than if mommy and daddy monitor their homework and take responsibility for getting them to school on time. When I was a kid, back when dinosaurs roamed the earth, I got my own butt to school and nobody checked if I did my homework, but when report card time came around, I either had to have good grades or a good explanation. I was responsible, so I learned to be responsible. If I had good grades, I was praised and maybe got a nice dinner, but more than that, I had the pride of having done it on my own.

Maybe there is something missing, though, because there are kids who legitimately need help. Even then, however, I think the kid has to be strongly encouraged to own responsibility for their present so that they are ready when the time comes to take responsibility for their future.


gfang profile image

gfang 7 years ago from Southern California

But you did have an incentive, having pride in ones work is its own reward.

"I think the kid has to be strongly encouraged to own responsibility for their present so that they are ready when the time comes to take responsibility for their future."

100% agree.

I guess "give them a real incentive" was not the best way to state it. I guess I should have said "teach them what the incentive is to succeed". Without a little guidance a lot of people never see it.

Upon reading your article a couple of more times and really thinking about what you said here I believe that we have a very similar view of the situation.


Tom Rubenoff profile image

Tom Rubenoff 7 years ago from United States Author

I was actually thinking the same thing a few minutes ago, that we are really very close on the issue. Incentivizing is really tough if they don't have it inside. So, as the parent, of course you try everything. But what it all comes down to is that they have to own it. If they don't take ownership of it, it just ain't going to happen. That's why I say, draw the battle line there and nowhere else. Let them take ownership of the responsibility to succeed. Then help them when they ask.


CostReductionGuru profile image

CostReductionGuru 7 years ago

Tom,

I have 4 kids my oldest is almost 21. You are doing the right things and keep up the good work.

It is important to listen to them, encourage them and expect them to take repsonsibility. I also admit when I am wrong and I apologize.

The biggest deal though is to trust them. That is right I trust them first until they prove otherwise. I am the adult so I need to take the risk. I have shared this with other Fathers and some of them have told me no way can I trust him first he needs to prove it to me.

Because they can talk to me I feel I have a bond and they come talk to me about anything.


Tom Rubenoff profile image

Tom Rubenoff 7 years ago from United States Author

Trusting them is so hard! Also respecting them, no matter what comes out of their mouth that totally refutes everything you ever taught them. You are obviously doing great Cost. I think we have given our kids a little too much advice, so while they would come to us with the big stuff, sometimes they hide the little stuff from us until it gets out of control for them. In a way, that's ok, too, because in the mean time they are trying to deal with it (if they aren't just ignoring it, hoping it will go away). But I always hoped to be a friend and confidante to my kids, as you seem to be to yours. I am somewhat, but not as much as I would like. I greatly admire you and your success.


jeff3600 profile image

jeff3600 7 years ago

i dont think and never did think your relationship with your wife is the same as my parents. you have one thing in common with my mom thats what i said. dont assume crap. Second nobody thinks that one parent is the bad guy cause they are undermine the other. that is also crap. i hate my dad for thousands of reasons witch i dont need to go into. My point was you shouldnt be using a book to raise your children, and you and your wife should be SHARING the responsibilties, not just the punishment. try reading CAREFULLY what i say and stop assuming.

and im a teenager excuse me for turning to profanity when somebody pisses me off. and as far as im concered u deserve it.

and just because i put a few swear words in there doesnt mean i should not be published. you dont have the right to unpublish my stuff. i have a right to say what i want. and the other readers have a right to see what i ACTUALLY said so that they can decide things for themselves. you should not be telling them your interpretation of PART of what i said. it is rude to sensor peoples opions and statements. not to mention its a blog and i have freedom of speech. you dont have the right to take that away from me.


Tom Rubenoff profile image

Tom Rubenoff 7 years ago from United States Author

Yup, ok, I read it. It is a very good example of teenage logic and level of expression.

I'll delete any comment I choose. It's my hub. This level of profanity in this latest comment of yours is inside my tolerance level for this venue, so fine, here you are. If you have anything to add and can say it while staying inside this tolerance level I will allow it to stay, too.

This is not a blog, it is an article that allows comments. And people censor (note spelling) blogs all the time anyway.

I always feel bad about deleting comments, even comments that add little to the conversation. That's why I made an effort to try to include the few semi-relevant parts of your comment. You know, when someone can't properly express themselves yet have something to say, I try to help them out. I'm sorry my effort fell short in your estimation. I must say that I am devastated.

Now, please, by all means, go ahead and comment. I love to see young people express themselves so eloquently.


LondonGirl profile image

LondonGirl 7 years ago from London

oh Tom, I love your comments (-:


Tom Rubenoff profile image

Tom Rubenoff 7 years ago from United States Author

Thanks, LondonGirl. Perhaps I was a trifle sarcastic?


LondonGirl profile image

LondonGirl 7 years ago from London

you were, but not enough.


Tom Rubenoff profile image

Tom Rubenoff 7 years ago from United States Author

Ha! Thanks, LondonGirl. Ah well, we are all on our journeys and he's on his. He just hasn't figured out how to read the map yet.

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