The Secret to Stress-free Parenting (No, really)

After three and a half-years, I’ve figured it out: There is a way to parent, stress-free. For real. Call me a huckster, a swindler, a shammer, but I’m going to give you the secret for free. Ready? Here it is:

Never have goals.

Zero. None. Give up all ambition to get what you want and you will live and parent stress-free.

This secret dawned on me when I realized every power struggle emerged from my having a goal.

I want my child to learn how to write his letters. F%$# you dad! Now the chalk is smashed on the ground because that Q isn’t Q-looking enough for my toddler’s likings.

I want my kid to eat the hot dog he wanted. Now he doesn’t want to eat the hot dog he wanted. Now we are arguing over the fact that he, indeed, did want the hot dog, that he always wants a hot dog, that his entire childhood is defined by affinity for processed meat logs. Who’s stress levels are rising? Mine. Why? Because I had a goal of his eating food.

But what if I give up wanting him to learn letters? What if I let him design his own janky, illogical communication style that only he understands for the rest of his life?

What if I gave up on my goal of wanting my child to eat real (or quasi-real) food? What if I just let him graze around in life eating bugs and sticky blobs of goo off the Target floor?

Or, here’s an ambition wrought with stress: Wanting a child to sleep according to any logical pattern. As I write this, my child is screaming that he doesn’t want to sleep. So be it: Henceforth, my child will nap only when he wants to, in the car, in chaotic 15 minute pass-outs on our way to public locations. He will be a gremlin, a creature of the night, a shapeshifting, tantrum touting monster. And I must accept it.

Perhaps you’ve already reached this level of parenting, resignation.

But here’s where the secret goes deeper: You have to give up on having personal goals too. You have to reach a level called, “Cold detachment from existence.”

I once fell into a life of having personal ambitions. I thought I could live a life in which I got to places on time. I thought pooping in privacy was something I deserved. I thought I could have functioning conversations with other adults.

Now, I realize that the car will leave only when and if the toddler chooses. I must accept tardiness, missed appointments, eminent unemployment.

I must accept that my bathroom privileges are like Facebook terms of service: my privacy will be hijacked at any and all opportunities.

I must accept that my conversations end immediately when my child starts screaming,

Dad!

DAD!

DADADADADDADADA!

DAD!!!!

You might be thinking to yourself, “Okay, I too can give up my ambitions in life. But won’t this set him up for failure later?”

Au contraire! By embracing the ambition-less life, you will give up on your child being a success at anything in life. Sure, you’re being called into the principal’s office for the tenth time in two weeks because your kid is being an ass-wagon to all of those other goal-filled suckers called “teachers.” Do you care? Nope. No goals for you.* If your kid wants to be a dick than he can be the dickiest dick who ever dicked.

* Sources cite that as many as 74.78% of parents have already adopted a lifestyle of zero ambitions and consequences for their kids already**

**Statistic unverifiable but seemingly true.

I can’t say that accepting this secret will be easy. For years, you’ve been indoctrinated to have goals by books, passive-aggressive and competitive parenting friends, and “doctors.”

But, once you realize the only way to live stress-free is to live ambition-free, you will accept your role as servent-to-the-munchkin-master.

Give it a try.

Give up your goals.

Or don’t.

I don’t give a f%$#.

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