15 February 2010

parenting: seinfeld style.

I read a lovely article in 'Parade' magazine this weekend by Harlan Coben.  It was all about Jerry Seinfeld, his life, and his family. 

It was refreshing to say the least.

Here are some highlights:

   " 'I love it (having kids).  I love having a family and kids, and all the madness.  There is no aspect of it I don't like.  Even when it's horrible, I love it.  I didn't realize how tired of single life I was and how ready for married life.' "

    "Although his own children obviously want for nothing, Seinfeld works hard not to be too indulgent.  He bemoans the way some people cater to their children's every whim.  Seinfeld has three rules of parenting, what he calls 'the poison Ps.' The first is Praise-'We tell our kids, 'Great Job!' too much', he says.  The second is Problem-solving-'We refuse to let our children have problems.  Problem-solving is the most important skill to develop for success in life, and we for some reason can't stand it if our kids have a situation that they need to 'fix'.  Let them struggle-it's a gift.'
    "Just as he's explaining the third P-'giving your child too much pleasure'- a woman comes in the deli with her three young daughters and buys them all huge cookies.  'Can you believe this?' Seinfeld says, gesturing like his TV counterpart used to.  'It's 5:30pm.-when will they have dinner?  At 8?'
    "So why does he think we treat our kids like that?  His eyes light up.  'Do you want to hear my latest theory?' he asks.  'It's a little far-fetched.'  He leans in and explains how children today aren't as innocent as they used to be.  'We feel so guilty for destroying that innocence-which is what we did-so we're now trying to repair that by creating perfect childhoods for our children.'  He laughs, but he's serious at the same time.  'The reason we overdo it so much is because we feel so bad about it.
   "Seinfeld also believes that it's best to teach children by example.  'Kids are not going to do what you tell them to do or think like you tell them to think,' he says. 'Kids are watching how you deal with the waiter or that handyman, and they are probably more likely to imitate you.'"

   "His dad's death at age 66, when Jerry was 30, was the first great loss of Seinfeld's life.  Did it crush him?  Surprisingly, after a brief pause, he says no.
    "'I tend to accept life as it is,' he says. 'I'm not one of those 'Life isn't faif' people.  I tend to accept whatever the limits are, whatever the rules are.'  He sits back.  His love for his father is evident, but no more evident of the basic fact that the man is no longer around..."

For me, it is so nice to know that someone like silly Jerry Seinfeld has a very realistic outlook on parenting and life. 

I mean, I know of people who can't even keep their checkbook straight, or figure out that purchasing groceries is more important than getting their hair done.  And these are individuals from my generation.  Over indulging is such a tragedy.  It makes for adults who can't seem to function in the real world, and worse yet, aren't equipped to parent their own children.  If you're taught to be entitiled to everything as a child, one of two things seems to happen...you still feel entitled when you're grown putting yourself before everyone else, including your own children, or you pass the same mentality to your children reapeating the cycle all over again.  I've witnessed it, and it is truly sad. 

That being said, I'm not a perfect person or parent.  I do have a pretty good self-awareness.  I know when I'm lacking and in what areas, and I try to better myself.  Typically, I don't need to be told these things by my husband, or mother, or father, or sister, or my kids.  And, for that self-awareness, I thank my parents, who let us solve our own problems, who didn't over-indulge us, who SHOWED us they loved us with acitons not things, who taught us you deserve nothing without hardwork and determination, and even then nothing is gauranteed, who always led from an example and not just words, and instilled their morals and values into us by their examples. 

Thank you!  I hope to be half the parents you are.  I think I'll be successful, even then.

Happy, healthy, contributing members to society...that's all I can hope for.

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