I don’t think many childless people realize they can be pretty judgmental about the way their friends and family deal with child rearing. I thought I was pretty open-minded, but I can see at least one big way I flipped in a belief after having my own son. I used to be judgmental of parents when I’d see pile after pile of toys in their house. I’d become even more judgmental when I saw parents bringing home junky toys for their kids every time they left the house for more than 10 minutes. I wondered what horrible things this was teaching these kids. Would they expect free stuff to rain upon them for the rest of their lives?
Along these lines, when my wife was pregnant, and my bachelor pad had already become something other than a bachelor pad, I made several very strong statements that I didn’t want to have a house with toys strewn about. I insisted to my wife that we would keep all of our son’s toys in his room, and not let them accumulate. We also would not buy him tons of junky toys. Just imagining my once minimal house becoming cluttered with child’s toys made me cringe.
Fast forward to today, 2.5 years later, and our living area has toys everywhere. We have stickers on our living room wall. And our son has a ton of toys, probably ten times more than I envisioned him having. But strangely, having my bachelor pad become a kiddie play zone has been totally fine with me. In fact, much of it is my own doing.
Even the phrase that used to send shivers up my spine five years ago was recently overheard coming out of my mouth: “Come with daddy grocery shopping and I’ll get you a toy.” What the hell has happened to me?
One could argue that I was judgmental, and I’ve become a hypocrite. But it almost feels like some biological change happened once I had my son, and my mind just works differently now. Am I ruining my son? I hope not. I’m banking on the belief that, if my wife and I are consistent, and follow through on promises as well as punishments, and if we set reasonable limits on behavior, then we won’t be spoiling our son. What do you think?