Prelude to Extreme Guide to Parenting

It seems appropriate that Andy (aka my honey) and I co-write a blog on the eve of the premier of Bravo’s Extreme Guide to Parenting. If you haven’t seen the tweets and posts splattered across my social media, we’re the first family seen on the series and along with Emma and Yonah, offer a non-traditional glimpse at how our parenting style works for us. So let’s start by agreeing that “parenting style” is a bit of a misnomer.

There is no one parenting style appropriate for kids of all ages and sizes, and that’s the opportunity this brave new Bravo series presents to viewers. To see different parenting styles and maybe learn a thing or two so we can adapt and be better for our kids is the goal, and being better for our kids can only benefit them, us, and even the planet. At least that’s the idea. Being a parent is more than a choice, for many it’s a life’s work. And after all, aren’t we parents, all in the club? The club of little sleep, of learn-as-you-go. The club of fake it till you make it.

If you’re like Shira and me you probably entered parenthood woefully unprepared for what was going to happen after the all natural child birth classes. It’s amazing how much time and effort is spent teaching newbie parents how to breathe, meditate and coach our better halves through the miraculous process of birthing. But then, on that fateful day, the baby comes, it’s all joy, balloons and relatives ahhing and cooing and then everyone leaves and you are left alone with a pile of poop seemingly growing exponentially in response to your increasing terror. For goodness sake, you need an operator’s license to drive a forklift, operate a motor boat and even drive a golf cart, but who is there to certify new parents?

Nobody.

So, after all the mistakes our parents made, and all the bad parenting our friends’ parents demonstrated, the best, most inspiring parental mentoring we can rely on usually involves some iconic TV mom or dad. Like Mr. Mike Brady. He seemed like a good dad but we don’t think he ever had kids of his own. Who knew Bobby was sleeping with his mother and I don’t want to know what Alice was up to.

Ok strike that. TV has generally not been a good place to learn parenting skills, at least not until our show! The point is, all parents begin the job alone, scared, unsure and searching for answers. And if you’re like me, you gave birth to two children who weren’t like the other kids in the mommy and me class. Or if you were like me, Andy, you fathered 3 amazing kids who back in their day didn’t know from CSEs, IEPs or other series of letters to get through even the most basic schooling. So parenting is on the job training. It’s a wide open expanse of cold sweat filled nights, boring days, sexless afternoons and sleep deprivation that we think was outlawed by the Geneva convention. The point is, most of us like to parent inside the box, but that’s not where our children live. Our kids live outside the box, they like to color outside the lines, and more and more our Indigo, Crystal and all manner of star children have shown up to change the rules.

So, let’s start with the basics: Parents are here to serve their children, not the other way around. Check.

Children are here to grow into their full potential, even if that means doing everything that goes against the grain. Check.

Parents who fear doing things differently might have a tough time adjusting to kids in this day and age. Check again.

Our parents, though well intentioned, did little to prepare us for our own parenting adventures. Double check.

So, while we’re faking it until we make it the best hope for all of us is to use tools, tricks and common sense that works for us, no matter if the children are involved. Let’s start with love. Be loving and patient and forgiving and kind and your kids and ours will benefit. That also goes for how we should treat pets, our own parents, co-workers, even strangers. This is what we call being mindful.

Next, do things with your kids that you’ve found have already worked for you. As you’ll see on the show, Shira uses her own Diva Mama Aromatherapy Synergy Sprays throughout as a way of calming and soothing the kids, herself and me. Okay, so maybe that seems strange for some, but Aromatherapy is used more and more in all our lives. Ever hear of lavender? Or peppermint? That’s aromatherapy hard at work in your tea or bath salt. If it calms you, logic would hold it might help the kids.

Same for diet. Drink a ton of soda, eat nothing but carbs and refined sugar then tell us how you feel! Yet many parents have no clue how bad that food is for their children. Diet and specifically GMOs are becoming more and more well known leading contributors to ADHD, autism and other child related ailments also effected by diet.

You want to talk about the power of sound healing? How often have you put on your favorite Beatles song, or danced to Michael Jackson when you felt good and cried with the help of Eric Carmen? Music helps us feel good and calms us when we feel low, so why not play music or better yet, expose our kids to live music, and sounds like those generated by Tibetan or crystal singing bowls, which are nothing more than a live note generator designed to elicit a simple emotional response in the listener!

Common sense is at the core of good parenting. Call that a parenting style and we’ll both agree that’s a good place to start. Being a good parent means having rules and being flexible. Being an effective parent is no different than being a healthy, effective person. Follow the good things you already do, or know you should be doing, and your children will benefit in ways you can hardly imagine.

For more parenting inspiration please catch Extreme Guide to Parenting premiering this Thursday, August 7th at 9:30p on Bravo. If you miss it, don’t worry, you can catch all the episodes on Bravo.com.

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