Shadi Mirza

Fatherhood

Seriously, bedrooms should not be used for punishment.

“You cannot teach children to behave better by making them feel worse. When children feel better, they behave better.” — Pam Leo

One of the many truisms about writing is that the more you do it, the better you get. I wish I could say the same about parenting. While blogging every single day has done wonders for my ego, I often go to sleep wondering if something I did or said to my eldest daughter, Nadia, has irreparably scarred her.

Fortunately, the “Parenting” topic on Quora always gives me a much-needed boost. It’s not that the parents who post questions there are “bad.” In fact, it’s the exact opposite—if you have enough humility to ask for help from other parents, clearly you care.

But this question really got me thinking a) because I’ve never had this issue and b) the solution has an Occam’s Razor-level of simplicity: if you want a break from your three-year-old, tell them to buzz off to their room for a couple of hours. If the child refuses to comply, there are deeper issues—not with your kid, mind you, but with your parenting.

Haters gonna hate (naps).

Before Nadia turned three we managed to get her into a public Montessori school. But there was a problem: this was a half-day program, so the children weren’t allowed to take naps. In fact, one of the requirements for admittance was that Nadia needed to be weaned off afternoon napping entirely.

Which was fine. From the minute she turned two, Nadia seemed preternaturally adverse to naps. You could say she hated them. Faced with the loss of those two hours to relax and watch something other than cartoons, my wife and I worried. What to do?

Enter quiet time.

This is exactly what it sounds like. You ask the child to go to their room and play independently, leaving you free to watch Netflix, read a book or do whatever.

But what if they won’t go?

Here’s the rub: if your child doesn’t enjoy being alone in their bedroom, you need to consider why. Maybe there’s nothing to do in there. Or, perhaps, you send them to their room as a form of punishment. And, thus, being alone in the bedroom makes your kid feel shitty.

Here’s why you should never, ever use the words “go to your room” as a form of punishment:

Decades of research in attachment demonstrate that particularly in times of distress, we need to be near and be soothed by the people who care for us.

But when you put your kid in “time out,” you’re essentially insisting that “they have to suffer alone.” And that sucks for them.

The bedroom is their refuge—and yours.

It also sucks for you. My heart goes out to that poor mom who went to Quora for real advice and instead got countless variations of this solution: make your kid someone else’s problem. She doesn’t need to throw money at the problem. She needs to give her kid a place to play that’s safe and fun.

Yeah, if you want a night on the town, you’re going to need a sitter. But if you just want some peace and quiet in the afternoon, that shouldn’t require forking out cold hard cash. You also don’t have to be the bad guy. Kids should love playing in their bedrooms. Some of my fondest childhood memories involve playing with, and breaking, action figures.

I mean, there was a lot of Nintendo, too, but I also played with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle toys.

#Parenting #Fatherhood #Discipline #Children #Psychology

They go beyond the fact that friendship is magic

Pinkie Pie

Few things on the internet have made me genuinely angry. I consider myself inoculated from the tsunami of vitriol and self-righteousness found on sites like Twitter, Reddit and Quora.

But, every now and then, someone comes along and says something so crazy that I have to take a siesta from the computer. This Quora question is one of them:

I caught my 14 year old [sic] son watching My Little Pony. What should I do?

Oh my God, man. Uncovering all the underlying assumptions in that question would be like peeling back the layers of an onion. And I’m not going down that rabbit hole. Instead, I’ll offer a very simple suggestion—one favored by the kind of person who takes an interest in the things their child likes:

Watch it with him.

As the parent of a five-year-old girl, I’ve had the good fortune to be introduced to My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. These are some of the show’s qualities, which I honed in on as a totally woke 36-year old human male:

  • Strong female characters
  • Humor that’s aimed just as much at adults as it is their children
  • Narratives emphasizing friendship over cattiness
  • Catchy songs

Heaven forbid a teenage boy be exposed to those things. Parents really must be pining for the days when cartoons aimed at boys simply glorified war and served as long advertisements for toy lines.

But while every character in the Mane 6—including Twilight Sparkle, Applejack, Rainbow Dash, Rarity, and Fluttershy—is cool in their own right, the dopest is probably Pinkie Pie. Here’s what she can teach us:

1. Partying is a lifestyle.

I’m not talking about the do-football-field-length-lines-of-coke and drink-until-you-puke kinds of partying. Pinkie Pie embodies partying as a mindset. Smile, laugh and, yes, break out into song every now and again. Life’s too short to be a sad sack, and Pinkie Pie’s there to remind us not to go around being a colossal buzzkill.

2. Baked goods make the world a better place.

For several months, I made it my mission to bake cookies on Sunday and bring them to work the following day. People would stop by my desk just to see what new and exciting creation I had made to share with the team. It even came up in my annual review.

People love sugar. It may be bad for your teeth, but it’s a morale booster. And believe people who refuse freshly baked treats on principle kind of suck.

3. Proper preparation prevents poor performance.

Call it her own version of a Swiss army knife, a deus ex machina for a lazy writers’ room, or what-have-you, but Pinkie Pie’s party cannon, which shows up throughout the series—as well as the movie—is a metaphor for the importance of keeping a well-stocked toolbox.

4. Your fears can’t control you.

Pinkie Pie literally laughs in the face of danger. It’s refreshing not just to see a female character overcome obstacles through sheer pluck, but a show that wants to teach boys and girls that the things you’re afraid of only have the power you give them.

#parenting #fatherhood #life