July's Honest Parent: Ben Tanzer
My great parenting strength is: my incredible calm.
My greatest parenting weakness is: lying about my strengths.
What have you learned about yourself specifically because you became a parent?
That my capacity for both love and rage is far more pronounced and accessible than I was aware of.
What do you wish someone had told you before you became a parent?
That you never stop feeling worried. And that there is a lot of rage. Did I already mention that?
Describe your worst moment as a parent.
Can there be a tie? Or do you have extra space? Plus, is this the worst I felt or the worst I acted? Uh. Let's avoid how terribly I've acted. But the worst I've felt is probably when our doctor feared that my younger son who was only three months old at the time might need surgery on his spine and the resident designated to discuss his test results with us went on and on about all of the things that might be wrong before saying there was nothing actually wrong at all. I actually wanted to punch him in the face. And there's that rage thing again. Damn it.
Is there one thing you give yourself a pass on?
Letting the boys watch television. It just doesn't seem all that evil to me.
How many hours out of each day do you feel like you’re being a good parent?
Hours? Are you crazy. Does sleep count or when I'm work? I will be very happy if I hit that mark for 1-hour a day total. That said, any discussion around what is good and bad when it comes to parenting is counter-productive. It's just too easy to shame or hype parents. It's a terrible job with moments of surreal love and joy, and everyone is hanging on to some extent.
How has having kid/s affected your sex life?
Next. Okay. It's nice when they get older and start to sleep. It's even nicer when they start to go on sleepovers.
How have you grown as a person since becoming a parent?
I'm not sure I have, though my empathy for other parents when they're struggling with a crying child on a plane or in the supermarket-- which was fairly high-- has certainly grown.
If someone gave you a letter grade for your current parenting, what would it be?
Is that someone one of my children? Because that grade would be low. Maybe a B+ otherwise. Assuming that person had been drinking or finds me attractive.
Do you really feel like you are doing the best you can? Could you do better? How? What keeps you from doing better?
Am I doing the best I can? No. I am not Zen enough. I do not always stay focused on structure. I cannot always appreciate what they're going through or what they find upsetting because I didn't go through it. Or maybe I did, but I handled it differently. And so what keeps me from doing better, is temperament, history, exhaustion, everything. Just feel free to pick something.
What quality in yourself do you fear is most likely to lead to failure as a parent?
I would note here how so many of these questions are focused on failure. What about success, or even better, contentedness, and calm?
Fill in the blank:
When it comes to parenting: I would rather not admit that its so f*cking hard, and yet I do, all the time.
If you could do it over again what would you do differently?
Probably live closer to our families. Or at least our old friends. Isolation is killer, and we have to chosen that to some extent.
What would you have done last year if you didn’t have children?
Sleep more for sure. Yell less. Felt less joy.
How do you think you're doing in comparison to your parents?
Is my mom going to read this? We are so much more enmeshed as a generation its very hard to answer this. My parents loved us very much, they were encouraging, and they raised us to be very independent and take care of ourselves. Sometimes I wished they did less of that. And many times I wish we did a better job of that.
What’s your most brutally honest parenting advice?
You are in charge. You make the rules. Kids need structure. Don't be their friend.
Would you want to be raised by you?
Yes, I think I rock. And yes, I recognize that is not very humble at all.
A writer with an MFA in Creative Writing from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Sarah Terez Rosenblum freelances for sites like Pop Matters and
afterellen.com Her debut novel, “Herself When She’s Missing," was called “poetic and heartrending” by ALA Booklist. Sarah is also a figure model, Spinning instructor and teacher at Chicago’s StoryStudio. Inevitably one day she will find herself lecturing naked on a spinning bike. She's kind of looking forward to it actually.
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