Parenting 101 – guest post by Kathy Radigan

Posted on December 10, 2011 by

Life lessons through pigs?  Today’s post just goes to show that education happens everywhere-especially when you’re a parent.  I’ve often wondered why someone hasn’t written a parenting handbook-if there was such a thing, I think my guest blogger today would have a perfect chapter!  Read on for parenting tips from Kathy Radigan.  And be sure to check out her blog My Dishwasher’s Possessed for more!

I was thrilled when Jennifer asked me to guest post on her wonderful site. I was really excited to get a chance to re-post a piece I wrote last year when I was just starting my blog on Blogspot. This piece originally ran last February and is one of my personal favorites. This argument remains one of the worst my son and I ever had, but since he turns 13 in two weeks, I’m sure it will not be our last. Jennifer, thank you so much for letting me share this piece with your readers.

My father taught me one of the best parenting lessons I ever learned, and I was only five at the time.

pig Pictures, Images and Photos
One of my favorite things when I was a little girl was to go to Eisenhower Park with my family. The park had a small petting zoo that included a pig pen.
Any time my two sisters and I disobeyed our parents, we would be warned that we would be sent to live with the pigs.

It was a threat that was made in a way that we knew they weren’t serious, but just in case they were, we better do what we were told.

I can’t remember what made me buck the system one fateful day after my father gave me his usual warning. But this time I decided to show him just how smart I was.

“That’s fine daddy. Send me to live with the pigs.”

My poor father didn’t know what to do.  This clearly was never a result my parents thought they would encounter. But once he made the threat, he had to follow through.

He made a big show of getting ready to take me to my new home. He got his coat… and his hat….and his keys. He hoped this would put an end to this and that I would realize that the inmates were not running the asylum.

I wasn’t giving in.

I was having a grand time insisting that I was ready to go to my new home. I confidently said goodbye to my sisters and mother. Not knowing what to do, my dad took me to the car. I kept waving and laughing playing the game I knew I was going to win.

We got into the car and I was still waving goodbye and feeling pretty darn good about myself.
Then my dad pulled out of the driveway… and onto the street.

I am still 99.9% sure he wasn’t going to let me live with the pigs, but I knew at that point that someone was going to have to end this. And that someone, was going to have to be me.

My father stood his ground that day and without yelling or laying a hand on me he let me know who was in charge. And it wasn’t me.

I think of this story often whenever I’m tempted to ground my soon-to-be, 13-year-old until he turns 30. He is an amazing child and I dearly adore him. As I did with my own parents, he knows he is loved and is very confident in that fact.

But he is starting to spread his wings and is determined to test the limits.

“I didn’t go to chorus rehearsal today, I’m going to quit.”

That was the opening salvo of one of our biggest battles last year.
I did my usual spiel of the need to keep commitments and deal with the consequences of our actions. In this case, it meant missing homework club. Unlike chorus, homework club requires no commitment and is just a fun place to do your homework and hang out with friends.

As the battle was heating up, I saw a letter from the school’s principal. Thinking that this form letter congratulating him on his hard work at the concert they just had was a sign from above, I laid the letter down to where he was doing his homework.

Suffice it to say, this did not bring the epiphany I was hoping for.

Quite the opposite. I can honestly say the Bill Cosby quote, “I brought you into this world I can take you out of it,” came to mind. Especially when he started waving the letter in my face while threatening to tear it up.

I surprised myself, as well as my son, when I calmly took the letter from his hand and tore it up.

I’m not sure if I was right, but his behavior was clearly out of bounds and I felt the need to let him know who was in charge.

He continued to protest but listened to me and went to his room. When the dust settled, he came out and apologized. He was also looking for an apology from me. I didn’t give him one. I told him that I loved him enough not to worry about his approval. I was his parent, not his friend.

pig Pictures, Images and PhotosThe next day the pieces of the letter were still on the table. He looked at them and said, “I guess the letter meant more to me than I thought. I am sorry.”
Being a parent is not for the faint of heart. Setting limits and following through can be the hardest part. It is also the most loving thing a parent can do.

I learned this at five when I almost joined a family of pigs.

Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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Comments: 13

  • mamawolfe

    December 14, 2011

    Thanks for all the comments-didn’t Kathy do a great job with this post? Parenting is the hardest job-if it’s done right. It is so much harder to say no than yes…but often it’s just the right answer!

  • melyssa

    December 12, 2011

    Clearly, I need to relocate closer to a pig farm…

  • viviankirkfield

    December 12, 2011

    I’m visiting here from vB. Congratulations on being a featured member!
    What an awesome post! It made me think back to my younger son…who was definitely the challenge of all our three children. Thanks for enabling us all to read this great guest post! My favorite line: Parenting is not for the faint of heart. So true! It ‘s the most difficult job in the world…and the only one that doesn’t require training or licensing. 🙂
    Hope you have a chance to visit my blog: or my author website:

  • Susan Kane

    December 12, 2011

    Five year olds can be very determined people! Glad you learned a lot. Living with the pigs would not have been the experience you hoped to have. Darling pigs, though.

  • Elisabeth Hirsch

    December 11, 2011

    I absolutely LOVE this. Sooo darling. I want to use this on my kids 🙂

  • Dee

    December 11, 2011

    Dear Jennifer and Kathy,
    This well-remembered lesson reminded me of when I refused–at about age 8–to eat the white sauce, served on I can’t remember what at a supper meal.

    Mom said I’d sit at the table until I did.

    An hour later I asked if I could leave the table. “When you eat your white sauce.”

    Time passed, the evening lengthened. Finally, I slept–the side of my face in the white sauce. When I woke, around 10 pm, I fingered off the sauce, ate it and what was left on the plate, and asked, “Can I go to bed now?”

    “Yes, you’ve eaten your white sauce.”

    Always afterward, I ate the food my mother placed before me. Now I’m glad she taught me this lesson as it makes me try many new things.

  • Michael Ann

    December 11, 2011

    Thanks for having Kathy, Jennifer. I love her blog. This piece was funny and serious at the same time–good parenting lesson for sure. Comes at a very good time for me, as I’m dealing with a 15 year old who got VERY bad grades on his progress report …. gonna have to lay down the law and I’m not looking forward to it 🙁

  • Shannon Milholland

    December 11, 2011

    Jennifer, thanks for hosting Kathy!

    Kathy, what a great illustration. I love parents who follow through on what they say they’re going to do. It takes guts, determination and just a little bit of crazy methinks. 🙂

  • Kathy

    December 11, 2011

    Jennifer thank you so much for using this piece!! You did it a huge favor by adding those way too cute pig pictures, especially the last one! I kept thinking, wow that really could have been my family portrait!!! Lol! Reading it now, I’m always amazed at how my father followed through and how panicked he must have felt. I really did give them a run for their money! Thanks again for having me guest post on your wonderful site!! Much love!!

  • Kristina

    December 11, 2011

    Oh, Kathy – your 5-year-old self sounds every bit as stubborn as my 4-year-old daughter! And like your dad, I move very slowly, hoping (and even silently praying:) that she’ll “break” first – never happens!
    Love this post and am hoping you continue to share your insights on parenting:)

  • Mommy LaDy Club

    December 10, 2011

    I love Kathy’s stories! Such a good lesson, and definitely the hardest part of parenting. I will never forget that my Mom always said she’d wash our mouths out with soap if we used bad language. And yep, when I called my little brother a name, she stood over me at the sink for a very thorough washing. It did the trick, let me tell you!;)

  • Rosann

    December 10, 2011

    Lol! I love pigs – seriously! I collect them and always wanted to have a pet pig. They have the cutest butt and tail. 🙂 Anyway, yes parenting is SO hard and I often find the hardest moments to be those where I throw out a threat and know I have to be willing to back it up with action. I’m always praying I can bluff my kids into thinking I really will follow through when the reality is, half the time, there’s no way I would!


  • Alicia Marie

    December 10, 2011

    Oh my goodness! What a cute picture! As much as I want to be a mommy, the part that worries me the most is raising up children to be loving, kind, generous, hard-working and all those things.

    I’m stopping by from my new blog–my old one was deleted by google, so I was forced to make a new one. 🙁

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