Saturday, August 10, 2013

How I'm on Top of my Parenting Game!

Our Jug, Libby!

Attention parents of teenagers I believe I have found an ingenious answer to some of our parenting woes; you must get a dog, specifically a barking dog. Allow me to explain. 

In last's week's article I shared that this summer has been a transitional time for my family. As my kids have gotten older I've had to come to grips with the fact that they are at an age where they shouldn't need my constant attention. They don't want a helicopter mom and I lack the stamina to hoover, so we've come to point in our relationship where, despite my gut instinct, the kids are spending an increasing amount of time out from under my thumb. 

So far, so good.  Thanks to Libby.

Libby is a little high strung. Part jack russell and part pug, she is on high alert constantly as we've totally hijacked her routine as of lately. With our erratic summer schedule she never gets a chance to relax as she is constantly monitoring the premises and the less she sleeps, the more hyper she becomes. She's like a furry, four legged toddler that way.

If anyone comes to the door, Libby barks. If the mailman drops the mail in the box, Libby barks. If a car drives in the alley Libby will run to the window to see if it friend or foe before deciding if she should bark. If Libby hears the keys in the side door, she will bark. I'm not exaggerating. Libby is a barker.

Initially I thought I would be unable to live with her incessant woofing. There wasn't enough migraine medicine in town that was going to help me survive this dog. Then I considered searching for a dog trainer who could help us curb the barking but then we got some inconsiderate neighbors who thought the entire block was their turf. That is until they encountered Libby.

And suddenly, I loved Libby.

I realized I could use Libby to my advantage. Other than the volume induced headaches (and the shedding, oy vey, the shedding!), I discovered Libby wasn't a burden as much as a strategic defense.

My kids, bless their teenage hearts, should they ever try to sneak out of the house would never make it back in without Libby announcing their arrival. Libby can keep unwelcomed visitors, solicitors, nosey neighbors and ruckus teenagers away. 

Heck, if I work this out fully I doubt I'll even have to stay up to monitor curfews! I could go to sleep and wait for Libby to bark and alert me to check the clock. I can feel my blood pressure dropping even as I write this!

I assure you our dog is not mean. She's the very reason the phrase "her bark is worse than her bite" was coined. Anyone who is brave enough to enter our home despite her barking, scrambling and sniffing, would find that as soon she goes through her big, bad, mad dog impersonation she rolls on her back and begs for a belly rub. 

Unless you are on a bike. She hates wheels. We almost lost her once to the poor unsuspecting boy who mistakenly rode his bike down our driveway. It took a lot of Captain Crunch cereal to get her back in the house after that chase. FYI, dogs love peanut butter flavored cereal.

Anyway, now that I'm learning to trust Libby's instinct, I feel like I'm on top of my parenting game. The perimeter is secure, the teenagers are too afraid to be sneaky and I'm resting easy. Now, if I just get the dog to do the dishes. Why? Because I'm the mom and I said so! That's why! 

Stephanie is a parent educator for the Monmouth-Roseville school district and a mother to five children. This article appears as a part of her weekly Practical Parenting series for the Review Atlas, a GateHouse Media Company. She keeps Captain Crunch stocked in the pantry for both her children and pets. She can be reached at

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