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Parenting (Otherwise Known as the "Jesus Give Me Strength" Thread)
#1
Real talk.

It doesn't look like we have a thread like this, and I thought given the obvious trappings that go along with being a parent it could be a good idea to have a place to share advice.

I've got a 6-year old and 3-year old.

For a long while now I've been struggling with being interested in most things I used to enjoy doing. I used to be an avid video game player and rabid devourer of movies. Obviously, the limited amount of time you have + 99% of things I enjoy that aren't kid-oriented makes it much more difficult to invest in such things (unless I want to be a shitty, irresponsible parent).

But even when the time comes where I can finally commit to such things (kids go to sleep, parents watch them for awhile, etc.), I still suffer from not being interested enough to do anything worthwhile with my time. I'll look over my library of content and nothing ever seems to "click" with me; meanwhile, while I'm wasting away at work, I find myself longing to do such things "if only I weren't here."

My question is, for those of you that have already gone through this stage of child rearing... is this normal?

Sometimes I wonder if I'm suffering from some form of depression, or going through my version of a mid-life crisis, but it's admittedly something I have no experience with, so I'd have a very hard time differentiating it between the result of having young children versus suffering from something different.

Any words of wisdom?
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#2
This is very, very normal. Meaning: it's common and temporary.

Kids drain the ever living fuck out of you. And yours are far enough apart for each to have basically their own set of challenges. If they were closer, it might be a little easier but right now you're dealing with one child adjusting to school while the other (I'm guessing) is recently out of diapers. That's a significant difference in terms of what they need from you.

Your energy levels and attention span are altered. That's the bad news. The good news: that changes. The other bad news: it's going to be a while.

I guarantee you'll see a shift when both kids are in schools. Likewise, and earlier than that, when you're able to leave the house without hauling a bag full of accoutrement for the younger one.

Prior to kids, I NEVER watched a movie (a new one or favorite) unless I could watch it in total. I wanted to preserve the experience, see the story in its complete form, yada yada.

After kids? Shit, if I was able to watch a film for 20 minutes at a stretch, I called it a victory.

To some degree, it is a sort of low-grade chronic depression. Your sense of self is hollowed out, you're in constant demand, you're likely not getting enough sleep, and you're tired all the time. Not feeling it in terms of media right now is very normal.

All that said: I'd encourage you to find something that yours that you can realistically do now. Maybe it's just read for 20 minutes. Find a show on a streaming service that has half-hour or shorter episodes. Just listen to super familiar music or instrumental (classical) for brief periods.

This will pass. All new challenges in parenting await you. But there's little like the demands of parenting kids under the age of 7 or 8. Teenage years are entirely different (though they can be as draining). But when they're literally dependent on you for everything....yeah, it's no wonder most of the stuff that felt life giving just feels meh right now.

ETA: Bart has two kids close to yours in ages. Hopefully he chimes in with current perspective. One of my kids just graduated college, and the other's about to enter her senior year in university. So it's been a while since I changed a diaper or dealt with kindergarten challenges.
"Nooj's true feelings on any given subject are unknown and unknowable. He is the butterfly flapping its wings in Peking. He is chaos and destruction and you shall never see his true form." - Merriweather

My Steam ID: yizashigreyspear
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#3
You're a godsend, Michael. I feel a lot better after this.
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#4
I feel you, Shaun. I have a three and a half year old and a one and a half year old, and I'm pretty much always tired. I definitely don't read as much as I used to, and hardly ever get to the movies. Hanging out with friends is a Gordian Knot of trying to coordinate who's watching whose kids. Money's always an issue.

I will say writing gives me little goals and keeps me on task. I always have some sort of freelance assignment or my blog to be working on. And I tend to get that done either early in the morning before anyone wakes up or late at night after they've gone to sleep.

So, find something that's just yours and carve out a little space for yourself somehow. I don't know how you'll do it, but it's a good stress reliever!
"I'd rather have hope...than nothing at all."
-Illyana Rasputin, X-Men: Omega #1

"But the public, knowing what it wanted, spinning happily, let the comic books survive."
-Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

Twitter: @BartLBishop
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#5
I have a 6 and two 8 year olds. It's important not to lose focus of what you enjoy and what makes you you, but everything you describe is normal.

As an avid gamer, I make a point to carve out time after the kids go to bed. I've just had to adjust what kinds of games I play. So no Witcher 3 which will suck up my life but something digestible in small doses like Monster Hunter.

As an avid movie watcher, I've had to create new rules to keep myself sane. I can't watch anything longer than 100 minutes because I don't have the concentration any more. Likewise when dealing with subtitles. Streaming TV shows has been a godsend since I can digest things in 30 or 60 minute chunks.

As my kids have gotten older, I've been systemically letting them into my interests. As a result we play a lot of cooperative sports games on the Playstation in limited chunks. I've also started showing them the movies of my childhood which is fulfilling in many ways as you'll be able to see them witnessing the magic of Raiders of the Lost Ark for the first time.

It gets easier and better.
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#6
Kids suck. Mine are 11 and 8 now, so, as far as availability for one's self and being tired all the time, these seem to have stabilized for me. The more self sufficient they've become, the higher mine and my wife's quality of life. For instance, a few years back, we woke up at like 9:20 on a Saturday morning. For the first time since before we had children, we were asleep past 7:00 am on a weekend. Our immediate reaction was along the lines of "Oh god, they stopped breathing in their sleep, they're dead!" It was the only explanation that made sense. We ran to their bedrooms, nothing but rumpled bedding. We bolted downstairs, panicked. There they were, watching cartoons on tv and slurping bowls of sugary cereal on the couch. The older one, then maybe 8, had helped the younger one, 4 or 5, get his cereal. Without fighting! As soon as we realized that they were self sufficient enough to deal with their own breakfast and not kill each other in the morning, we've enjoyed sleeping later on weekends since.

But I digress. To bring it back to Shaunh's original post, I definitely had a similar experience, to the point that I didn't bother with video games or movies for a few years, and admittedly got pretty angry and depressed about it. I had no time to do anything I liked doing anymore, including ever seeing friends or being social. It was tough. MM said it best upthread, but it really does get better. I'll likely not ever take the time to play video games at the level/number of hours per week as I did in my 20's or early 30's, but I enjoy the time I spend on them now.
If you're happy, you're not paying attention.

Originally Posted by JacknifeJohnny: 
Glad that you guys worked that out amongst yourselves.

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#7
I enjoy watching other people's kids have meltdowns in public places, content that no one wants to breed with me.
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#8
no one wantsta breedito
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#9
I love driving over to my sister's home and hanging out with her son (almost two now), but when the littlun has his shitfit moments, I skidaddle like a fart in a hurricane. Nothing against him, but children at that age are like daggers to my ears. Still can't wait to show him The Thing at age seven like I was, because I am a terrible person.
Giving money to the studio that keeps enabling Adam Sandler is morally equivalent to Satanic kitten rape orgies. - Hypnotoad
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#10
I'm weirded out by parents with more than one young 'un. How many do you need, folks? We're not exactly an endangered species here, and in case you haven't noticed, two parents outnumber one kid.
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#11
It's not like you can just punch them in the face and beat the shit out of them (well...technically, you CAN)...you gotta be SWEET and NICE and PATIENT. Two parents in that situation means a lot less. If you were subduing a terrorist, then yeah, two is an IMMEDIATE advantage..
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#12
Raising kids is pretty much the same thing as subduing terrorists.

Just with more psychological warfare.
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#13
Sometimes....subduing terrorists is preferable..
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#14
Fraid, in no way, shape or form do you need to be sweet or nice, and frankly not a patient person. I don’t beat the shit out of my kids, but surely the threat and fear of my doing so is pretty compelling. Regardless, ultimately they’re far more afraid of my wife than me, as they should bee.

Oh, and we had two because then they could interact with each other and not us. Also, we like sex.
If you're happy, you're not paying attention.

Originally Posted by JacknifeJohnny: 
Glad that you guys worked that out amongst yourselves.

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#15
Not beating them IS being nice and patient..
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#16
(08-19-2018, 05:50 PM)Neil Spurn Wrote: Oh, and we had two because then they could interact with each other and not us. Also, we like sex.

The same reason we had two. 

Oh, and about video games: Neil is spot on. Pick games single player games you can start and stop whenever the fuck you want/need. Vasty online multiplayer games are going to be a fond memory for a while.
"Nooj's true feelings on any given subject are unknown and unknowable. He is the butterfly flapping its wings in Peking. He is chaos and destruction and you shall never see his true form." - Merriweather

My Steam ID: yizashigreyspear
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#17
Getting my parents to play video games with me when I was a kid was like pulling teeth. So weird to read that parents now are complaining about kids getting in the way of their gaming.
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#18
the universe truly knows how to subvert our most comfy expectations!
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#19
(08-19-2018, 06:30 PM)bradito Wrote: Getting my parents to play video games with me when I was a kid was like pulling teeth. So weird to read that parents now are complaining about kids getting in the way of their gaming.

My daughters really, really disliked my FPS games. Like to the point of asking me not to play them because they found them upsetting.
"Nooj's true feelings on any given subject are unknown and unknowable. He is the butterfly flapping its wings in Peking. He is chaos and destruction and you shall never see his true form." - Merriweather

My Steam ID: yizashigreyspear
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#20
I would've been ecstatic to have had parents that would play video games with me Sad
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#21
This is why I grew up to be a lame-o.
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#22
(08-19-2018, 07:06 PM)MichaelM Wrote:
(08-19-2018, 06:30 PM)bradito Wrote: Getting my parents to play video games with me when I was a kid was like pulling teeth. So weird to read that parents now are complaining about kids getting in the way of their gaming.

My daughters really, really disliked my FPS games. Like to the point of asking me not to play them because they found them upsetting.

I won't play those around my kids but I will subject them to watching me grind away at Bloodborne & Dark Souls to teach them the values of perseverance and learning through failure.

(08-19-2018, 08:07 PM)fraid uh noman Wrote: I would've been ecstatic to have had parents that would play video games with me Sad

Want to come by my place and wear a brave face while an 8 year old kicks your ass at FIFA, NBA & WWE 2k18?
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#23
Yeah, my 8 yr old son is frighteningly good at Star Wars battlefront 1 and 2. I’ve always enjoyed that no one knew the guy at the top of the leaderboard was 8 and racked up all the kills.


Edit: MM’s kids were weak.
If you're happy, you're not paying attention.

Originally Posted by JacknifeJohnny: 
Glad that you guys worked that out amongst yourselves.

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#24
If this thread becomes all the parents bragging about their kids' mad video game skills, I will be a proud non-parent.
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#25
My 4 year old nephew has only been exposed to NES and SNES games. He's like FREAKISHLY good at the Mega Man games. And some of those are sons of bitches. He's never beaten all of the robot bosses before the castle(s) in any of them. But he's beaten at least a couple in all of them. Even Mega Man X2 and X3...and those fuckers are HARD. He doesn't yet, like..GET how old these things are yet. I try to tell him that's what I was playing when his mom was his age. Christ..
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#26
(08-20-2018, 12:23 AM)bradito Wrote: If this thread becomes all the parents bragging about their kids' mad video game skills, I will be a proud non-parent.

If it makes you feel better, neither of my daughters play video games.
"Nooj's true feelings on any given subject are unknown and unknowable. He is the butterfly flapping its wings in Peking. He is chaos and destruction and you shall never see his true form." - Merriweather

My Steam ID: yizashigreyspear
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#27
My son will be 17 next month. He was a giant pain in the ass the first 10-12 years of his life, but he has grown into a pretty cool young man. My wife tells him all the time, "I didn't like you for a long time, but I still loved you." When stuff frustrates the shit out of you, just remember, they'll never be this age again. My son would drive me crazy, but I realized it was because I was working (my wife stayed home after he was born and didn't go back to work until about 3 years ago), so he was desperate to see me whenever I was home. I would come home and literally lock myself in the water closet in our bathroom to get 4-5 minutes to myself. And then I would hear "knock knock...Daddy? What are you doing? Come play with me!" I would play Call of Duty with him (even though I sucked), and various other games, especially the Lego games when he was younger. And let me tell you--my wife and I look back at the first 2 years (of which he almost never slept through the night) and wonder how we survived on such little sleep.

It's tough at the time, and tantrums are a bitch (we took pictures of my son afterwards--and one of them looks exactly like the Tom Brady meme that went around a few years ago), but time continues to move forward. Now he's still into video games, he plays lacrosse, and he's doing Dual Enrollment at the High School and a local college. He has diarrhea of the mouth (like me), but he also stands up for kids if he thinks they're being bullied (he was almost always the biggest kid in the group) and doesn't care about being popular. I told him, I wish I had half of his confidence when I was the age he is now. One of our favorite things to do together now? We watch Funhaus on YouTube. My wife thinks when he heads to college in a couple of years that I will have a harder time dealing with him leaving than she will. Smile
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#28
I really appreciate all your guys' input. I know I'm not alone in how hard it is being a parent, but it helps knowing the specific areas I struggle in are more common than people around me have lead on about.

Any tips on how to deal with the 6-year old being stubborn/talking back/being defiant? It's happening far sooner than I ever could have imagined and I get really frustrated/angry when I start running out of calm, logical lessons that he refuses to adhere to. I try straight-forward punishment (taking things away, putting him in his room, cancelling plans centered around him, etc.), but still have a hard time getting him to fall in line.
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#29
(08-20-2018, 09:34 AM)shaunh Wrote: Any tips on how to deal with the 6-year old being stubborn/talking back/being defiant? It's happening far sooner than I ever could have imagined and I get really frustrated/angry when I start running out of calm, logical lessons that he refuses to adhere to. I try straight-forward punishment (taking things away, putting him in his room, cancelling plans centered around him, etc.), but still have a hard time getting him to fall in line.

Assuming there aren't additional factors involved (personality issues, chemical issues, etc.), consistency and "organic" consequences are the best approach. Also remember three things:

1. It's your kids' job to push boundaries and find your buttons. It's integral for them to figure out how the world works, how they work, how you work.
2. It's not personal. Even when they try and make it personal. It's not.
3. If your kids don't occasionally tell you that you're mean/they hate you/etc., you're not doing your job as a parent.

The BEST resource I've encountered in dealing with back talk is this book. Straightfoward, eminently applicable and practical, and very helpful in helping the parent adjusting their internal attitude towards the behavior(s) in question. It's short, to the point, and you can pretty much start applying stuff from it right away (and/or adapting as needed).
"Nooj's true feelings on any given subject are unknown and unknowable. He is the butterfly flapping its wings in Peking. He is chaos and destruction and you shall never see his true form." - Merriweather

My Steam ID: yizashigreyspear
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#30
Be strong on the punishment. My problem was that I would enforce it for a short time and then back off it. You may want to try something that lasts longer than an hour, a day, etc. So if he has a favorite toy or activity, that goes away for an hour the first time, and if it happens again, then it goes away for a day, third time it goes away for a week. My son did not like that--he had an iTouch that he played games on when he was 7-8 years old, and it would drive him insane when we took it away because he wasn't listening or broke a rule, and we took it away once for a month. And if it goes that hardcore, you can always give him the chance to earn it back after a certain amount of time.

And to Michael's point--your kid will push because that's what they do. My son even complained from time to time about not getting punished for something he'd done, and he would complain about friends of his not getting punished when they had broken rules. My son threw fits all the time, and we would just let him run himself out at home. If we were in public, we would take him out of wherever we were and go sit in the car, or just go outside. I remember one time in particular we were at an REI and he desperately wanted to buy this tennis ball thrower for our dog that did not chase tennis balls. We had to put it back on the shelf several times, but he would keep going back for it, and finally when we went to the register without it, he lost his fucking mind. My wife was mortified, and grabbed him and took him outside and sat in the car, and he wouldn't stop wailing, so she strapped him in his car seat, and then just stood outside of the car until I was done. By that time, he had not only cried himself out, he had also fallen asleep.
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#31
(08-20-2018, 09:50 AM)martianman Wrote: Be strong on the punishment. 

Not to get into a semantic war but I get a mild red flag on the word "strong." I think consistent is a better way of thinking about it: the child needs to know you mean what you say. Otherwise, I think you're pretty much on point. If you've articulated a consequence, stick with it. Period. If the child knows you're going to crumble soon, all you're doing is eroding your own credibility as the hander out of consequences.

Here's one thing: whenever possible, de-escalate. A lot of problems from back talk and similar behaviors arise when the parent decides to one-up or try and impress that they're more right/stronger/etc. And it's essentially the emotional equivalent of a "winnable" nuclear war. Try and remove your ego from the equation, and try to remove any overt elements of a power struggle/territoriality in the mix.

That doesn't mean giving in or giving up. It does mean backing away, briefly, if you feel yourself getting emotionally baited or riled up to the point where your decision making is impaired.

ETA: martianman's example of taking the kid out of the store is a very good one. Don't try and debate or win the kid over or threaten in the store. Remove them from the situation, calmly and firmly. If they need to lose their shit in the car seat, let them do it.
"Nooj's true feelings on any given subject are unknown and unknowable. He is the butterfly flapping its wings in Peking. He is chaos and destruction and you shall never see his true form." - Merriweather

My Steam ID: yizashigreyspear
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#32
Yeah, I mean you be strong as a parent--don't cave because he seems so sad or depressed because of it. Consistency is a good thing--you can punish something once and then if you don't punish the next time, they decide to push again. My best comeback to my son was always "What happened last time you did ______?" and then he would remember that punishment, and that pretty much cut it off right there.

And I'm sorry I keep editing. I'm on a call at work while I'm typing this, and I get distracted and miss the point of the sentence I'm typing.
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#33
My frigging three-and-a-half-year-old daughter absolutely refused to help clean up her room last night. As things gradually escalated ("Your sister is helping." "Just pick up one block.") she started losing her shit in a way she never had before. It makes you feel crazy: Am I doing something wrong? The fuck is up with this little lunatic?
"I'd rather have hope...than nothing at all."
-Illyana Rasputin, X-Men: Omega #1

"But the public, knowing what it wanted, spinning happily, let the comic books survive."
-Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

Twitter: @BartLBishop
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#34
It happens a lot when the kid is tired too. My son was the hardest kid in the world to get to take a nap, or to go to bed. He was always afraid he was going to miss something. Maybe he heard Dave Attell's bit on that--"Ya shoulda hung out, maaaan!" We would usually get him to take a nap by us taking a nap at the same time. Lol. We definitely did the old "put them in the car and drive around so they fall asleep" thing a few times.
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#35
"Winnable" nuclear war.

Just remember that analogy.

3 year olds losing their shit over seemingly random lines-in-the-sand is both very normal and tear-your-hair-out frustrating.
"Nooj's true feelings on any given subject are unknown and unknowable. He is the butterfly flapping its wings in Peking. He is chaos and destruction and you shall never see his true form." - Merriweather

My Steam ID: yizashigreyspear
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