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"Am I a 'Normal' Parent?"

By Brenda Nixon
Guest Columnist

CBN.comIt may be one of the “oldest professions” but that doesn’t mean it comes natural. Parenting is very complex and challenging. We often feel helpless because there’s no rulebook so we wonder if we’re making or breaking our kids. I often wonder how my mothering is compared to other moms.

There are many innovative ways to raise kids and no one way is perfect. Years ago I stumbled across a little humor book, Are You Normal? by Bernice Kanner (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1995) that shared fascinating statistics about raising kids. It may be reassuring – maybe not – to see how you fare according to this book.

Making the bed. When it comes to making the bed every morning, parents with young children usually don’t. Only 19 percent of parents reported that they make this a practice although they tell their kids to do it. According to the book, some dads pitch in but only nine percent. Just think if your child’s father makes the bed every day he is literally one in a million!

Instead of the slogan Got Milk, how about Got Magnets? In most homes, including mine, the fridge holds more than food. About four in 10 American kitchens proudly display photographs and children’s artwork on the fridge. Every once in a while I have to remove magnets and clean off the front of my fridge. Hopefully a cluttered refrigerator door is the mark of a healthy, happy family.

Catch the sniffles again? The "normal" child catches 6 to 10 colds a year. Boys get sick more often than girls. And Moms succumb to more colds than Dads. I propose the reason for this is because Mom usually stays home with the sick kid – then she gets it.         

Wash your hands? That question echoes in my home every day. American parents take pride, we have taught our children well. According to research over half, or 54.2 percent, of our kids wash with soap and water all the time after using the restroom.

Where’s your gun? Nearly two out of every five families with kids keep a firearm in the home. The unnerving part to me is that statistics say more than one in four handgun owners keep their gun loaded. Half of those handgun owners store their guns unlocked!

Hate childproof caps? Those childproof medicine bottles lids aggravate one in five people – me included. I always wonder how difficult it must be for people with arthritis. The comedy of errors is that many children figure a way to open the bottle anyhow. My sister-in-law’s dog even figured it out and devoured the pills inside. But the bigger irritation to families is the unsolicited sales calls that always seem to interrupt dinner.   

Brag on your kids? Almost three out of four people surveyed – 72 percent – admit they call their parents to boast about a child’s report card. Seems we never outgrow our need for Mom or Dad’s approval.

Answering the question, "What’s the first thing you do when you come home?" eight percent said, “Hug my kid.” Most parents reported kicking off their shoes as their first order of business. Twenty percent said they change clothes first, and 10 percent listen to the phone messages or open the mail.

So, where do you fit? There are some areas where I’m in the majority but in the minority on others.

Today, my children are teenagers and I occasionally wonder if I’m being reasonable in my rules. Fortunately, my husband and I joined a class for parents of teens at our church. By talking with others about their home life, swapping stories, and opinions I often drive home assured I’m pretty normal. Better yet, I realize my kids are too.

©2003, Brenda Nixon.

As a professional speaker and writer, Brenda Nixon brings hope, help, and humor to parents. She is a contributing author to 19 books, the author of Parenting Power in the Early Years, a top resource for parents/caregivers of young children, available on Amazon, and is currently writing a discipline book for parents.

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