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Parenting Resolutions

I present the following humorous anecdote to you, fellow frazzled parents, so you can relate with a mournful and commiserative chuckle (and then buy me a beer).

I initially wrote this column really early. It was the day after Halloween and I was all gut-rot stoned from eating my kids’ candy and I got mixed up in my months, as you do when you’re gut-rot stoned off Snickers bars. So I wrote an entire column about Christmas, being a responsible parent, and trying to not be an environmental train wreck during that least-environmentally-friendly time of year. I was, literally, about to hit “send” on the email to my long-suffering editor here at Island Parent when it suddenly hit me: This column is running in January. Generally speaking, January happens after Christmas. So, back to the drawing board.

What does the New Year mean for parents?

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That’s what I need to get into here. Tricky because I’m writing this on November 22 and I haven’t even started the annual environmental destruction in the name of Christmas, so thinking about the new year is a challenge.

Like a lot of parents, though, I do like to use the start of a new year to try to make some changes. I’ve admitted here before I—like a lot of you, I have no doubt about it—struggle with not sneaking peeks at my phone when I’m spending time with my kids.

I still have no idea why: my inbox is a disaster most days. I’d be happy to NOT be looking at many of the emails I get, so why do I break up precious child time to do it?

As a chronic overworker, boss, and freelancer, it’s hard to not think that something is on fire or there’s a job I need to accept IMMEDIATELY otherwise someone else will take it, at all times. There’s never a fire, and there’s not much work these days, so, really, I’m good!

I’m also trying to not be too much of a grumpy old man when it comes to life in general. Some may disagree, but I think I’m doing okay! The secret is knowing a nice cold beer awaits me at the end of the…er, I mean, the secret is knowing that I’m bringing that much more sunshine into my wonderful family’s day.

Seriously, though, this sounds hopelessly annoying, but, clearly, my life is pretty good if I’m able to do stuff like have kids and write for this magazine. Yours is probably going alright if you’re able to take 10 minutes to read this column. Enough with the sour-face too-much-time-arguing-on-Facebook garbage. Give me a smile, and I’ve got one waiting for you.

So, “lay off the phone,” “don’t be a bastard,”…what could a third parenting resolution be this year?

One parenting concept that resonated with me in 2019 was realizing that parents have the power. We pulled our kids out of school to homeschool them. This was not an easy decision when some days it feels like social media has more pull over my parenting decisions than my own brain does.

But that seems like a good third resolution to bring with me into 2020: remembering and sticking to the idea that parents are in charge. And respecting other parents’ decisions on things (and stop arguing on Facebook; it’s a horrible look, parents, and when was the last time you changed someone’s mind on vaccines or gun control by name-calling anyway?).

The power is ours as parents—not society, not the government—to make parental decisions. I mean, I’m one sentence away from running into the woods and starting an anarchist commune, so I’ll stop here, but not before I give you a friendly reminder to buy me a beer, and also to say, all joking aside, Happy New Year, and keep doing the best you can as a parent. At the end of the day, it’s all we’ve got.

Greg Pratt
Greg Pratt
Greg Pratt is the father of two children and a local journalist and editor. His writing has appeared in, among other places, Today’s Parent, Wired, Revolver, and Douglas.