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Tammy Swift: Concerns big and small loom around parenting

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Parenting today seems so complicated. Loads of books and websites – many hawking conflicting theories and schools of thought – address the topic.

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Even worse, parents have to tiptoe through a veritable landmine of decisions. How do you raise a child who is conscious of the world around him but not terrified by it? How do you dole out rewards and positive reinforcement without raising a child who expects a Nobel Peace Prize for his fifth-grade beetle collection? How do you give your child unconditional support without him expecting to receive your financial support for the next 15 years?

Factor in big, scary forces like the country’s economic woes, unemployment and ...

Eating watermelon in the house.

Reading by dim light.

That you would wear a dress without a slip.

That you wouldn’t offer to help your friend’s mom with the dishes.

That you would tell your sister to “shut up.”

That you would tickle your brother until he stuttered.

That you will watch scary movies and have bad dreams.

That you will do something that winds up on your permanent record.

That you will clean the bathroom without wiping off the Universal Rundle.

That you will roughhouse in the house and someone will get hurt.

That your excessive interest in bands like Foreigner will lead you to join a cult.

That the ladies in the coffee klatch downtown will label you as “wild.”

That you will get the other kids “riled up.”

That you will miss church. Actually, this fear lingered in my poor mother’s heart until as recently as 2008. At that point, she finally decided that she could stop asking her 42-year-old daughter if she was going to church and could simply resign herself to lighting votive candles and praying for her daughter’s soul.

That you will wear too much eye makeup.

That you will go to a PG movie or – horror of horrors – an R.

Dad’s concerns were almost always focused on something he felt he could control: our cars. In the days before helicopter parenting, parents – especially Dads – were more into drone parenting.

That is, they were content to hang out in another country, parenting via remote control.

That you think he owns the electric company and that money grows on trees.

That you will shift the automatic into drive before the car is completely stopped while in reverse.

That you will not know how to change a tire.

That you will slam the car door so hard that, in my dad’s very words, “it will now swing both ways.”

That you will date someone who prefers Fords.

That you will never get married and he will have to give cattle away to entice someone to marry you.

And when you finally do get hitched, who knows who you’ll find?

Probably some joker who drives a Ford, reads in the dark and eats watermelon in the kitchen.

Tammy Swift writes a lifestyle column for The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead.

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