November's Honest Parent: John Arendshort
My great parenting strength is: I truly love interacting with my kids.
My greatest parenting weakness is: Sometimes it’s easier just to placate my kids if they’re struggling with something rather than really use that time as a learning experience.
What have you learned about yourself specifically because you became a parent? That I can do more than I ever thought. Parenting is the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and also the most enjoyable. In being a parent, I have pushed my limits for patience and energy far beyond what I thought they were.
How often do you compare yourself to what you think other parents are doing--or what you "should" be doing? I think that any parent is lying if they say they never compare themselves to other parents. But I don’t think there is any particular path of parenting I “should” be following – there are a million different positive ways to raise children. So any time I catch myself comparing my parenting to others, I remind myself that my kids are awesome and that I’m doing the best that I can.
Describe your worst moment as a parent. I was taking a shower one night when my oldest daughter was about three months old. [My wife] Liz held Hadley just inside the shower to say hi, but I didn’t see or hear her immediately. I washed some soap out of my eyes and turned around to see Hadley right in front of me, and I screamed. Hadley was inconsolable for about half an hour. I still vividly remember the look of horror on her tiny little face.
How has having kid/s affected your sex life? I would say that our passion hasn’t diminished, but obviously our opportunities are less frequent. So we’ve definitely become more cognizant of those opportunities when they arise.
How have you grown as a person since becoming a parent? For one, I think more about how I can impact the world in a beneficial way (although finding the time to actually do so is a challenge). But more generally, I’ve found that I can work harder, be more compassionate, have more patience, survive on much less sleep, and have more fun than I ever before dreamed possible.
If someone gave you a letter grade for your current parenting, what would it be? I really don’t think letter grades should be assigned for parenting (again, other than the obvious extremes), because each situation is so different. I would have no idea how to compare my parenting with any other parent I know.
What quality in yourself do you fear is most likely to lead to failure as a parent? “Failure” is a harsh word, but I suppose my main weakness in parenting is the tendency to give in and spoil my kids.
Fill in the blank: When it comes to parenting I would rather not admit: that I eat my toddler’s leftovers.
When it comes to parenting_______ is overrated. The advice of parenting experts This isn’t to say that “experts” and others don’t have some good ideas, but the information they provide is so often framed as absolute truth rather than as concepts that can be adapted and shaped to different situations.
If you could do it over again what would you do differently? Really, given what I know now, I’m not sure I would do anything differently. I’m sure that this answer may change as time passes, but right now, I don’t think I know enough to think about what I might have changed.
Based on what you see in your child right now, what is your worst fear about her as an adult? That she won’t be patient if things don’t happen the way she wants.
What would you have done last year if you didn’t have children? Travel more. It’s so much tougher to get away when you have kids. That, and go out to eat more often.
How do you think you're doing in comparison to your parents? Pretty well. And I think that’s a credit to my parents more than anything – they raised me in a way that gave me the tools I need to succeed as a parent.
What’s your most brutally honest parenting advice? Don’t worry about what you’re supposed to be doing. Do your best, and enjoy every moment. It’s really not that easy to screw up your kids. Also, if you never take time for yourself, you will become a worse parent and partner.
Would you want to be raised by you? Yes, absolutely!
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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