I’ve been visiting my daughter for close to a week now, watching her interact with my two beautiful granddaughters who are eight and twelve, and I’m a little hurt she hasn’t asked for my advice on raising children. After all, I’ve raised three of them, and I think they turned out pretty darned well, though that could be in spite of how they were raised. Because I don’t want my valuable insight to be wasted, I’m going to offer it to you, dear reader. Here, then, is my philosophy on raising children:
1. Avoid it at all costs.
2. If you fail at #1, write down all the mistakes your parents made while raising you, the times they embarrassed you, butted in when it was none of their business, lectured you ad infinitum when a simple “no” would have sufficed, gave you their advice when you didn’t want it, didn’t give it to you when you needed it, spent too much time with you, didn’t spend enough time with you, over-reacted, and many other ways your parents messed up. Memorize what you wrote. No, this list isn’t so you’ll avoid making the same mistakes; it is so you’ll recognize these mistakes when you make them yourself.
3. Sit down to dinner as a family. Don’t give me the “It’s impossible with all their activities.” Find a way to share the evening meal together most days of the week. It is worth the effort.
4. Get a pet. Note: This is not to teach your children responsibility. It’s so you will always have at least one member of the family that thinks you’re terrific.
5. Don’t go to bed angry with your kids and don’t send them to school without having hard feelings resolved.
6. Keep the bottle of bleach away from your pre-teen daughter when she’s learning to wash her clothes, especially red shirts. (Don’t ask.)
7. When your teenagers can’t believe you’re their mother, offer to have a DNA test.
8. Don’t expect your children to be what you are not (i.e. organized, patient, diligent, etc.). They may be, but don’t expect it.
9. Practice keeping your mouth shut. This will be an invaluable skill when you become a grandparent.
10. No, family meetings are not a good idea.
Do the best you can because there are no do-overs in parenting. Remember the good news—this, too, shall pass. And always keep the bad news in the back of your mind—this, too, shall pass.