Disclaimer: This post is part of this blog’s That Tiny Tirade series. It can (and likely will) contain harsh language, scenes and storylines not suitable for children, and not safe for Washington logic. This post may also contain strobe lighting effects.
Think back to the last holiday season you spent with family (Christmas/Kwanzaa/Festivus/Hanukkah/etc). It’s pretty easy for me, though my time wasn’t solely with my family. I also spent a fair amount of time around my wife’s family, including my niece. As many one year olds tend to be, the little girl was excited at the prospect of getting presents at Christmas, as that meant she had lots of wrapping paper she could tear apart.
I would like to one day have at least one kid to call my own (I wouldn’t be opposed to more, though the financial investment that a family needs to make in a child is a considerable one — roughly $12,000 per year by the USDA’s calculator, though other studies have put that number closer to $13,500 a year). While I realize I’m not in the right place in my life right now to have a child, financial stability for any child is a huge key to raising them properly.
While it goes without saying that parents should put themselves in the best position possible to raise a child before they have one, there are many other steps you can take to better prep yourself for having a kid before you actually have one. Those of you who don’t have kids should take my words as solid advice, because just like you, I don’t have a kid, which means I both know everything and nothing all at the same time.
1. Try taking care of a pet first
Pets, like children, are full of responsibilities. You have to feed them, play with them, give them access to the bathroom, and help them mature throughout the course of their lives. However, pets are (typically) far lower maintenance than kids, in that they don’t require the same level of attention or financial cost as a child. For example, while your newborn baby is growing out of their clothes every 2-4 months, you don’t ever have to buy your pet clothing because they’re a fucking animal. Federal regulations require formal schooling for humans, yet unless you feel the need to take your pooch to obedience school, you’re off the hook here. Finally, those holiday dinners where you have to make a plate for your kid and yourself just got a ton easier, as no one in their right mind brings their animals to family gettogethers, let alone takes them through the food line with them.
2. Don’t be afraid to let your kid fail
I had an English teacher in high school who I despised with everything in me. I felt like she went out of her way to give me bad grades on anything that required subjectivity to grade, all while (allegedly) giving members of the football time a free ride to both her bedroom and an A in her class. Without that experience, I likely would never have been pissed off enough to try to prove her wrong, which ultimately helped shape some of the college-related decisions I made in high school.
Nowadays, parents are too afraid of letting their kid fail. Did you know they no longer make baby seats that roll around on the floor? Apparently it was a safety concern. The only safety concern children have to worry about now is falling on their face when they get to adulthood and their parents aren’t there to help them. This isn’t the fault of the kids either. If you want your child to be successful in life, let them fail. There’s no need to get a participation trophy just for playing a sport. Let your child learn to lose, learn to hate that losing feeling, and then learn to overcome it.
3. Your child doesn’t need things it can’t use properly
As Americans, we live in an overwhelmingly consumer-driven society. While this looks great on the bottom lines for many businesses, it’s also what causes millions of people to end up with staggering amounts of debt. Learn when and where not to listen to advertising and impulse buying. If your child can’t walk yet, it doesn’t need to have more than one pair of shoes to its name (even that’s a stretch, but I’m willing to be reasonable). Same goes with hobbies — unless your child is suddenly a musical prodigy, a $10 garage sale guitar is just as good as the $400 one you could get with Taylor Swift plastered all over it.
As I mentioned in the opening paragraph, my niece was more amused with the wrapping paper than many of her presents. Such will be the case for roughly the first 2-3 years of your child’s life. There’s zero need to splurge on ANYTHING at this age. Buy clothes, a few simple toys, and tons of books to read to them as they sleep/sit. Not to mention diapers…lots and lots of diapers.
4. Resist the urge to plaster your child — born or unborn — all over social networking sites
I’ll keep my opinions about pictures and social networking to myself for this post, as that’s a completely different rant in and of itself. That said, there’s no need to put up a picture of your child on the internet for every little thing he/she does. Milestones are fine, but they don’t come as frequently as people claim. Cut the pictures down to a few every couple months and watch as people immediately begin to comment about how your child is growing up so fast. Sure, you’ll get the backlash of some family members complaining about how they never see pictures of your child, but if they’re not willing to (ever) come see you in person, perhaps they don’t deserve to see the pictures in the first place.