Few years ago I wrote a post about having kids (read it if you haven’t done so, it will make you cry or something). Today I will tell you how to raise your children well.
Chances are if you are regularly reading this blog or know me personally you are not raising a moron but, judging by a huge number of morons we are surrounded with in everyday life, plenty of other parents are. I am sure there is a multitude of child-rearing manuals written by well-educated experts in the field but I would venture to say that many of their own children are probably pregnant at an early age, stripping, Goth, or have faces that look like an industrial stapler accident. Since my child is neither (yet), I will provide you, absolutely free, with a short list of things you need to do to raise a productive, smart and fun-to-be-around member of society.
I may be in a minority who thinks that all good music was composed before 1992 but if the oldest song on (in?) your child’s iPod is from 2009, you might be raising a moron. At first I couldn’t believe when my kid told me that other kids in school don’t know about the Beatles, Elvis, ABBA and Bob Marley but it’s true. I take full credit for my daughter’s vast music collection, her knowledge of obscure disco songs, and being able to recognize the music that was “resampled” by a temporarily popular no-talent hack of the day. Something has to be said about kids who play in school orchestras and bands. If they make horrible out-of-tune noises with their tortured instruments, help the rest of us out and stop encouraging them.
I always felt bad about my dislike of classical music and contemporary art, but I try not to project my own prejudices onto my kid. Theatre, Broadway, art, museums, circus – we’ve done it all and plenty of it. I mean , she still had to listen to me go on about a 3-year-olds that make better art but no one said having me as a parent doesn’t have its drawbacks.
Something has to be said about the movies your child is watching. Recently, I discovered that my kid can’t recall seeing any James Bond movies. Luckily the James Bond movie marathon over a Thanksgiving weekend corrected my glaring parenting failure. I’ve never paid attention the age-appropriate movie ratings and my child is allowed to watch anything that doesn’t include explicit sex scenes, and even those I am willing to tolerate to a certain extent. If you think that watching a movie will make your child violent or teach her bad habits like cursing, drinking and drugs you are sorely mistaken. Every movie and TV show in the USSR was censored, but, surprisingly, everyone knows how to cuss, drink and have sex. Ratings aside, we don’t shy away from any movies from Charlie Chaplin to Charlie Sheen, foreign, domestic, black-and-white or in color. If your child hasn’t seen any movies made before the year 2000 except for “Home Alone” you might be raising a moron. On a related note, the world doesn’t need anymore Star Wars, superhero, or weird troll movie geeks, so just don’t.
- Pop culture:
Have you ever felt sorry for a poor schmuck who doesn’t get pop-culture references and jokes? Don’t let this happen to your child. I wasn’t born here but even I can recite the episodes of “I love Lucy” and participate in a conversation about the Three Stooges. Knowing all about Snookie and Kardashians is clearly something to be proud of, but when they (hopefully) get long prison sentences, there will always be Seinfeld, Latka Gravas and Beavis and Butthead.
Maybe I’ll throw in some generational continuity in together with the pop-culture – I know my daughter rolls her eyes when I start one of my when I was growing up® stories, but I am sure she doesn’t tune me out completely. I wish my Dad would’ve told me a lot more of his. Even if you had the most average unremarkable life there is always something you could tell your kid to give her some understanding of where she is from.
Shockingly, many kids I’ve met over the years are fed exclusively frozen dinners and junk food. I am clearly not a person to talk about eating healthy, but if you are not letting your kid taste a variety of freely available fruits, vegetables and ethnic foods, you might be raising a moron. Your kid doesn’t have to love everything you offer her, but tasting something at least once and forming her own taste is a must. Making your kids eat something they don’t want is not as bright idea as it may seem; that’s how you get people who cringe when they see broccoli. My kid knows the rule: if she tried something and doesn’t like it, I will leave her alone, but she has to try it first.
This is a hard one, because not everyone can afford it, but you don’t have to take extended trips to other countries to qualify. Much travel can be done for the price of a tank of gas and a lunch. You might be surprised how much there is to see in our own and neighboring states and how much it will help your kid gain perspective on how other people live (mostly worse than us). If your kid hasn’t travelled outside of your own state, you might be raising a moron.
My only rule about fashion and looks is for my kid not to look like a circus just go disbanded and left her behind. Weird hair color is not a form of self-expression, mostly because no one can explain what exactly it expresses. Mostly it’s a form of encouraging early baldness and that look often seen on the show Cops. Same goes for facial and body piercings and mutilations. I realize that at some point she won’t need my permission to do these things, but hopefully 18 years of ridiculing the unemployable looks will leave some trace in her mind. On a non-mutilation note, I am pretty sure she is already resigned to the idea of making it to the adulthood without ever owning $100 jeans and $200 shoes; at least she stopped asking long time ago. By the way, if it’s freezing and a child showed up to school wearing shorts, his parents are morons.
I don’t have much to say about this, not everyone has the same abilities, but that doesn’t mean your kid doesn’t need to try or at least understand the importance of not giving up. “Do you want to work at McDonald’s for the rest of your life?” is a real question. I am sure there are people with a PhD who are working a fry station as I type this. Life is not fair.
- Sense of humor:
Your kid doesn’t have to be a comedian but if you raise a humorless child you are doing a disservice to the society. They will grow up to be your annoying coworkers, people who create codes of business conduct and teach sexual harassment seminars. They will be the ones leaving angry comments on food blogs and ranting about how unfair the People of Wal-Mart website is to the poor people. Don’t get me wrong, we need sad people to create things like iTunes terms of service that you acknowledge when you by a song for 99 cents, but it doesn’t have to be your child.
Children have feelings too. If that phrase guides your parenting you are probably raising a moron. If you manage not to hurt your child’s feelings while they are growing up they are in for a huge surprise when they will leave your protective embrace to go to college, workplace or even get on a freeway. Instead of expecting everyone in the outside world to care about your kid’s feelings why not help your child develop a sense of humor (see 9) about themselves so they don’t have to run away crying every time someone says something they don’t like. You don’t have to go all Don Rickles on your kid like I do, but raising them with unrealistic expectations of their future surroundings is going to hurt them for a long time. If a sense of humor is not your thing, you can always try martial arts.
- Exposure to real life:
This one goes back to many points above – if you isolate your child from the real world there is no telling how she will turn out as an adult, most likely as a serial killer or an octomom. In real life there is no Santa and Easter Bunny is food; there are annoying, angry, hurtful people; there are foodies; there is sex and drugs and violence; unwanted pregnancies; abused children; idiot drivers and rude shoppers; Kansas legislature; spoiled food; child labor; perverts; WBC of Topeka and many, many other things from mildly annoying to pure evil, and you are not doing your child any favors by pretending these things do not exist. These are the things and people your kid will encounter in life, whether you want it or not, and being prepared to deal with them is the most valuable skill you can help your child develop.
To summarize, just treat your kid as a normal person. Then they will most likely grow up a well-adjusted, cultured, happy individual with only a few, probably minor, hang-ups, nothing that a few years of therapy can’t fix.
*please do not take any advice from a blog seriously