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Smack In The Middle: Turning Down The Volume On Parenting Noise

Wikimedia Commons/Nickolai Kashirin

Wikimedia Commons/Nickolai Kashirin

Smack In The Middle:
Turning Down The Volume On Parenting Noise

See that picture above these words? That’s me. Metaphorically speaking, of course. That’s not really me. But I am placing headphones over my ears and blocking out a lot of parenting noise. I have to because it’s driving me crazy.

In my work here at GEM, I do a lot of reading about parenting that I would otherwise not pay much attention to. As you know, there’s no shortage of advice and judgment floating around.

It’s enough to make you lose your mind on the quest to raise well-rounded, happy children. One day, it’s all about attachment parenting for babies and as soon as the kids are old enough, you should switch to free range parenting. One author is telling you that the French style of parenting is awesome, while another one tells you that parenting is all joy and no fun.

No one parenting method is all wrong or all right, but this information overload makes me want to lie down and take a nap. Not that I have time for that, of course.

I’m turning down the volume because I just discovered an unscientific and yet, the most powerful way to parent that I wish I had heard about when it was first discussed nine months ago. The method? It’s called Calm The F*** Down. Read about it here on The Daddy Complex, but avoid it if the f-word bothers you.

By using CTFD, you are guaranteed that however you choose to parent (as long as there is no abuse) your child will turn out fine. Here are two sample parenting scenarios that would employ CTFD:

  • Concerned that you’re not the type of parent you thought you’d be? Calm the f*** down.
  • Upset that your child doesn’t show interest in certain areas of learning? Calm the f*** down.

Here are the two simple steps to use CTFD:

  1. Calm the f*** down.
  2. There is no second step.

Related: 10 From GEM: 10 Tips To Beat The Morning Rush

Discovering this has made my life profoundly better. Don’t get me wrong—I was already using CTFD to some extent, but not the full-on activation I’m going into now.

I was just reflecting on life with my 7-year-old, Sophia. When she was a toddler, she wasn’t talking. Some of her behaviors were “off.” She wouldn’t sleep and when I say that, I mean that it took hours—sometimes until 11 or 12 o’clock at night—before she would fall asleep. She was attacking other kids at preschool. She wouldn’t make eye contact and she was in constant motion, always running, jumping, hopping, and skipping. Her inattention to everything was taken to epic levels.

Sophia’s pediatrician suggested that she be evaluated for autism. That sent me into a fit trying to find excellent doctors to get a diagnosis. I was deeply worried about her and translated her behavior as my bad parenting. I ended up driving back and forth to a facility in Chicago where an extensive evaluation was done, only to be told in the end that she was not autistic. The psychologist suggested that I relax and let Sophia develop on her own timetable.

How I wish I had known about CTFD all along! I probably made myself a worse parent with all the unproductive agonizing I did. When she was about 4 ½, Sophia’s behavior had changed for the better so much, I would have sworn she had been replaced when I wasn’t looking. All the things I fretted over simply disappeared. To look at her now is to have no clue of our trials just a few short years ago.

Now, my 2 ½ -year-old twin boys aren’t talking. Devin and Donovan make a whole lot of sounds and they can communicate many of their wants and needs, but they’re not verbalizing them. Since I’ve been down this road before and I’m better acquainted with CTFD, I’m turning down the volume on all the parenting noise that says they should be doing ABC or XYZ by whatever age. I’m keeping an eye on them and they are receiving therapeutic services, but above all, I am calm. I no longer feel like my parenting is deficient.

There’s something to be said for ignoring all the parenting methods that aren’t relevant to who you are as a parent, that are not respectful of who your children are, and don’t take into account the realities of life in your household. Turning down the volume doesn’t mean that I’m not listening to parenting advice at all. There are people in my life who’ve blazed a pretty successful parenting path and I love to ask them what they did.

I realize that someone else’s methods may not work for my family, but the best thing about CTFD is that I feel free to turn down the parenting volume when it doesn’t work and turn it up when it does. The best parenting methods for me are the ones that keep me sane and allow me to address exactly what my kids need exactly when they need it.

Related: Smack In The Middle: Why My Parenting Has To Change… And Me With It

Is there a particular parenting method that you follow? Or do you do whatever works? Share your thoughts below.



  1. Clarissa

    April 12, 2014 at 9:51 am

    I heard this term and read something about it a couple of years ago and (when I remember) it has changed my parenting skills. Still firm when needed but way more relaxed in times of stress.

    And one of my best “Out of the mouths of babes” moments was after rushing the kids out the door to get to their music lessons on time… when we got there the door was locked, no one to be found. As My 10 year old (now 11) got back in the car she said with a quip,

    “Well THAT was a waste of stress!” -It is my new motto. I love kids. They kinda rule.

  2. Alexis Trass Walker

    April 12, 2014 at 10:26 am

    Clarissa–I love what your daughter said! I’m going to remember that one. Aren’t kids so much wiser than we think sometimes?

  3. Kristi

    April 12, 2014 at 1:25 pm

    I went to school for child development and I SERIOUSLY thought when I graduated that I was an expert. Seven years later I have left the attachment, authoritative, authoritarian, permissive, and uninvolved parenting theories alone! I am finally learning the CTFD method. Children do not come with manuals so there is no right or wrong way to raise a healthy child. GREAT BLOG!

  4. Lou

    April 17, 2016 at 7:51 pm

    My son didn’t talk until he was 3 even though he was in every type of therapy imaginable. He was also a late reader and was labeled “very disabled” at school. I didn’t CTFD. I was SO worried! Well now he’s an A student, he started college early (making As), and he is having fun with his friends. What you said reminded me of my kid. It felt like someone replaced him with another kid. All that worry for nothing! He’s fine and it’s all OK.

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