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On Parenting
Posted at 07:00 AM ET, 12/29/2011

New Year’s resolutions: Parenting edition

I love resolutions. They’re like pennies thrown into a wishing well. Every year, I imagine self-actualization can be had for a few tossed off goals.
Time Square on New Year’s Day 2011. What have you resolved to do in 2012? (The Associated Press)

(The fact that this is an annual exercise, and thus never fulfilled, does not diminish my enthusiasm.)

So, as usual, this year I have a long list. Three of them are a direct result of writing On Parenting: one comes out of an issue covered in a post; another from a general reaction to writing the blog; the third because readers have let me know, repeatedly, that this is a habit I must discard.

Taking a cue from dieting coaches who advise public proclamations of diet goals, I am sharing these three with all of you.

I’d like to hear readers’ parenting resolutions, too, as we can all learn from each other’s unrealistic expectations of ourselves.

In the meantime, here are my On Parenting-inspired resolutions:

1) Stop fretting about favoritism.

After I read “The Sibling Effect:What the Bonds Among Brothers and Sisters Reveal About Us,” (Riverhead Books, 2011) by Jeffrey Kluger, I wrote a post about Kluger’s argument on favoritism. He said, “I like to say that 99 percent of all parents do have a favorite child and the other 1 percent are lying through their teeth.”

Ever since, I have worried about not just how equally I treat my girls, but how I feel about each one in any given moment. The mere suggestion that I have lopsided allegiance has made me obsess about if I do and how that may be manifesting itself.

No more. I will go back to loving them unconditionally and individually and accepting that they will have “issues” with me in years to come for reasons I cannot even begin to fathom...

2) Stop treating my 4-year-old like a guinea pig.

Writing about parenting is a blessing because I get to stay on top of all the latest research and advice on how to deal with parenting challenges. It’s a curse for the same reason.

I have found myself trying out new techniques all the time, especially on my older daughter. (Successes with her, I figure, will be passed down to #2. If you think that approach is unfair or that calling my second daughter “#2” reveals a bias, please see first resolution.)

This constant jumping from one week ignoring bad behavior to the next punishing it and the next talking-it-through must be confusing to her. It also runs counter to the one piece of advice that seems to weather all the trends: Be consistent.

3) Embrace grocery delivery.

Every now and then, a post receives a strong reaction. One, when I revealed a habit — a habit that I honestly thought was no big deal — got a visceral reaction.

Immediately, readers told me it was disgusting, unsanitary, rude and contributing towards a general decline in civilization. Even my own editor told me it was “gross.”

So thanks to you, I will this year give up snacking (and allowing my girls to snack) on food we have not yet purchased in the grocery store.

(Note that I write “yet.” Many readers missed or overlooked the fact that I have always paid for these gobbled-up snacks.)

The easiest route to a pay-first approach will be avoiding the grocery store with kids altogether. 2012 will be the year of delivery to the D’Arcy household.

With those commitments, I expect this new year will be one lived as an non-obsessing, consistent, well-mannered mother. That said, if anyone happens to see me in a Safeway munching on a Luna bar, just remember what they say about New Year’s resolutions.

Happy New Year. Do you have parenting resolutions?

By  |  07:00 AM ET, 12/29/2011

Tags:  Resolutions

 
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