Finally, a Parenting Theory that Makes Perfect Sense

By Joslyn Gray, REDBOOK.

David Vienna, who writes The Daddy Complex, recently offered up a fabulous new parenting theory. While most parenting experts are pitching concepts like being a "Tiger Mother," a "Free-Range Parent," or an "Attachment Parent," Mr. Vienna has hit the (hilarious) nail on the head with his new parenting system: CTFD, which stands for "Calm the F*ck Down." "It's not a message to give your kids," he writes, "It's for you." It's excellent advice, and appropriate for oh-so-many situations I've encountered as a mom.

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"Worried your friend's child has mastered the alphabet quicker than your child? Calm the f*ck down," Mr. Vienna advises.

"Stressed that your child exhibits behavior in public you find embarrassing? Calm the f*ck down."

As funny and tongue-in-cheek as Mr. Vienna's post is, he's totally right. I really do need to CTFD. I actually take medication to help with that challenge (anxiety disorder in the hizz-ouse), but sometimes it's hard, like when I'm trying to wrestle my child out of his swimsuit in the sauna called the ladies' locker room. Or when I'm in hour seven of a road trip.

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I should probably just get the letters CTFD tattooed onto my wrist. Ooh! The Daddy Complex should totally sell rubber Livestrong-style bracelets with the letters printed on them. Bracelets would also be super-handy because I could hand them out to the random Concerned Citizens who like to offer me parenting advice. In particular, people who like to tell me that my son's autism would be cured if I would just discipline him more. Those people really need to CTFD (and also STFU and MYOB).

Now, of course there are times when we should not CTFD. If your child is genuinely delayed in hitting milestones, it's a good idea to have a conversation with your pediatrician. If he or she is struggling academically or socially in school, a chat with your child's teacher or the school counselor would probably be helpful. But if you're freaking out because your kid isn't getting straight A's, or the star lacrosse player, then yes, please do CTFD.

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There are also times when we need to RTHU (Rile The Hell Up). When you see a child being bullied, RTHU. Don't look away because it's not your kid or "not your problem." When a disabled girl is turned away from a museum because her wheelchair might get the carpets dirty, RTHU. In that particular case, I'd like to get a whole bunch of people to track in a monster truck rally's worth of mud, actually.

But mostly, yeah, I need to CTFD - and perhaps more importantly, I need to be reminded to CTFD, and also to laugh about how ridiculous parenting can be. Thanks for the words of wisdom, David Vienna! It's a little more pointed than saying "don't swear the small stuff," or "keep it simple," but somehow your slogan is a little catchier, and the f-bomb makes it easier to remember. At long last, a parenting theory I can really get behind.

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