Weekly Puppy Love from me to you :), including some observations of the similarities between raising puppies and parenting.
As a mom of four, it’s really interesting to have a puppy at this stage in my life. Raising a puppy is in so many ways like raising a child. I wish I had practiced on a puppy first. Here are a couple of observations I’ve been making the last couple of weeks about the similarities between raising puppies and kids/teenagers:
All puppies are cute…so are babies
Puppies think they know what they’re doing even when they don’t…kids and teenagers do too
Give a puppy too much freedom too quickly and they’re bound to do something naughty or make a mess…the same holds true for kids and teens
Puppies need boundaries…so do kids
Puppies need to know who’s boss…so do kids
Puppies need lots of love and attention…so do kids
Puppies who don’t get enough attention will probably do something “naughty” to get it…so will kids
When a puppy gets out of control, you have to reign them in…same with kids
What might seem cute behavior as a puppy might not seem cute when they’re an adult…same with kids
A trained puppy makes for a happy family…a well-behaved child is a joy too
As a mom of a pre-teen boy who thinks he’s going on 18, I reflect back on how I’ve raised him so far and wish I had put more limits in place sooner – on his phone and on video games, for example. I have to admit that our youngest son was on “cruise control” the last couple of years because I was overwhelmed with all the activities of our three older boys and the whole college process. So, he got away with a lot more than any of his brothers. Trying to reset boundaries and expectation levels is going to be a challenge, but at the age of 12 going on 13, it’s a critical year. “Why are there all these rules now?” he asks, to which my answer is, “Now that your brothers are off to college, I have a lot more time to pay attention to what you’re doing.” Sorry kid, it’s my job. I’m not here to be your best friend. My job is to keep you safe at all times and to raise you to be a respectful, responsible, considerate, hard working young man who has the ability to make good decisions, and the skills to live independently in the real world one day.
Fortunately, he hasn’t gotten into any trouble yet (fingers crossed that he’ll get through high school unscathed) and we have a little bit of time reign him in, and hopefully guide him safely through the next six years while he’s living at home. As a parent of three older boys, I know all too well all the potential pitfalls a teenager can fall into.
There is a big difference between this newest generation of pre-teens and my older boys, however. Earlier access to cell phones and social media has changed the way kids interact with adults and with each other…and not always for the better. Kids place their self esteem and value on how many friends are following them on Facebook and Instagram, and how many people like their posts. Social media has made it easier for kids to bully other kids – they’re more likely to say things on social media that they’d never say to their face. Social media has also made it easier to exclude kids – they post whose house they’re at, what parties they’re at, so everyone knows who’s invited, and who’s not. There are also many more instances where high school parties become free-for-alls where anyone who hears about it on social media just crashes the party, and before you know it, there are 50-60 kids at someone’s house. Needless to say, if alcohol is involved and the cops come, that’s bad for everyone involved, including the parents.
If there’s one piece of advice I’d like to give parents of elementary school-age children, it’s this – when and if you get your child a cell phone, don’t hand over the phone until you have house rules in place (e.g., the phone must be left downstairs when they charge it and when they go to bed, the phone must be off by ___ each night, no phones are allowed at the dinner table, etc.). Also, consider installing filters and controls on their phones, and get their account names and passwords for Instagram, SnapChat and whatever other social media they’re on. Some of you might think I’m a bit crazy, but kids are kids, and if they know you’re watching them, they’re less apt to do things or say things they shouldn’t. They need to understand that having a phone is a privilege, not a necessity (although they believe it is and will tell you so). Things change so quickly, it’s hard to keep up, but you must.
In a way, having our puppy at this point in our life has been a blessing. It’s made me realize that I still have a lot of parenting to do with my youngest son. There’s so much still to teach him. I feel fortunate that I still have six years with him. And although he thinks he knows exactly what he’s doing, he doesn’t. As my husband likes to say, ‘You don’t know what you don’t know.”
Now, enough with the parenting talk, let’s see some Puppy Love. Our puppy LOVES the snow! She could live outdoors if we let her. We just got another foot of snow this week, and she can’t get enough. She even managed to smell her ball in the snow and dig it out as you’ll see in the video.
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See our video of Sunny during the first month at our home: