Everybody's suddenly an authority on your life when you start a family. Humor them and take the advice you can use, but don't hesitate to shun the myths and the misguided suggestions that come your way.
- TIP: Dismiss advice that simply won't work or isn't realistic. You may be new to this, but that doesn't mean you've lost your common sense.
- Step 1: Ignore the temptation to plop the kids in front of the latest TV program billed as an educational phenomenon. Children don't become geniuses watching television. They need parental interaction to grow, learn, and thrive.
- FACT: Before the age of 18, a majority of all U.S. children will likely spend some time in a single-parent home. Single-parent families comprise over 28 percent of all American families.
- Step 2: It's OK to argue in front of the children, as long as your arguments are constructive: forget the nonsense about protecting them from witnessing it. The trick is to work the problem out in a loving way so rational and fair argument becomes a life lesson for them.
- Step 3: Disregard authoritative, charismatic experts and don't get caught up in the latest sure formula for rearing children. Trust long-held practices and proven science instead of one-size-fits-all solutions -- every child is different.
- Step 4: Consider that having a child can bring a couple closer together as the advice usually encourages us to believe, but it can just as easily drive people further apart. Learn to accept life's frictions when a third party enters the picture.
- Step 5: Move everything up and out of reach and reorganize the home once kids are around, despite well-meaning counsel from other parents that children should respect property and leave everything in its place. They will touch, eat, or break anything.
- Step 6: Reject the idea that you need to be great friends with your kids. That can even be damaging. You're the boss and sometimes they won't like you at all because you're setting limits.
- Step 7: Save up so you can afford the cost of having children, as people will advise, but the best laid plans can go awry and unforeseen things happen. Just because you don't have every cent accounted for doesn't mean you're not ready. Trust that love and sacrifices will make up any shortfalls.