Child development studies show that children demonstrate strong indicators of their future character and personality by the age of three. That’s not much time to influence them to become the coolest person possible—modeled after you!
So allow me to share with you a few tips from what I call “The Marginally Mature Parent’s Primer for Raising Kids Without Selling Out.”
FOR PARENTS OF GIRLS: So they want to join Girl Scouts? Great! So long as they agree they won’t sell cookies. It’s part of the sacred Scout agreement, they say? Then ask them how much profit they need to clear, and come up with the cash yourself. There are better places to learn life lessons about giving guilt and receiving rejection than on your neighbors’ doorsteps.
Discourage them from giving you a button with a photo of them in their leotard from dance class or gymnastics. Because if they do, and you don’t wear it, then you’re a jerk. If you do wear it, then you may as well buy a Members Only jacket to pin it on and zip it up tightly over your short-sleeve buttondown dress shirt and knit tie, or maybe even consider taking up mall walking. Wearing buttons like these is exactly what grandparents are for. They already have an outfit that complements these buttons perfectly.
FOR PARENTS OF BOYS: Help them maintain a nice little circle of grubby, naughty, and funny friends, but also show them how to play politely with the girls. Don’t let them become that typical little creep who throws mud on the girls or calls them names. They have no idea how well their coed chivalry at six years old will pay off when they get older. (Your sons may even thank you later.)
Remind them that it’s cool to kiss their dad, even in public, no matter how old they are. If Eddie Van Halen can kiss his sixteen-year-old son on stage in front of 20,000 roaring and drunk middle-aged fans, then your son can let you plant one on his cheek when you pick him up from school.
FOR PARENTS OF ALL CHILDREN: Teach them how to always, always, always clap on two and four.
A successful childhood shouldn’t necessarily hinge on your kids fulfilling every wish on that list. It would just make your life easier. And for me, that’s a primary goal these days. After consecutive mornings of kids coughing across my breakfast and brokering peace accords because someone sneaked an extra Flintstones vitamin . . .well, frankly I could use a little help.