Rule #52: Give Your Child False Hope

in Rules of Parenting

One day, you'll all be stars. Or baristas at Starbucks.

One day, you'll all be stars. Or baristas at Starbucks.

Everything in life begins and ends with false hope, wagging in our collective faces like the plump teat from which we suck vigorously—only to realize it’s the equivalent of an implant.

It is a fleshy mirage, and we feel like bitter fools after realizing our folly.

This is the stuff of life, naturally, but your child doesn’t know this yet. So that’s why it’s important to fill his little head with a range of opportunities and outcomes that give him false hope.

These daily episodes of delusion will keep him foolish, lazy and happy, making your life fairly simple because you’ll never have to do the hard parenting work of setting realistic expectations. 

Of Course, You’re Going to Be a Prima Ballerina, Sweetie

OK, so your daughter is 12 and weighs in at 170 pounds with ankles that look like sewer pipes. Big deal. While you know she has a better chance of getting drafted by the Chicago Bears, her lifelong dream is to become a prima ballerina.

Do you really want to douse those flames of hope with the ugliness of reality?

Of course not—so make sure you pepper your sentences with the hubris of hope. Say things like, “Tiffany, if you just keep working hard—and perhaps cut down on your intake of cured meats—I’ve heard from reliable sources that the Russian Ballet is scouting your every move.”

Or maybe something like, “You know, Tiff, when you leapt up into your instructor’s arms and broke his wrist, it had nothing to do with your weight—he’s a weak man who had no right to be in the same dance studio with someone of your talent and balletic future. Now just calm down and eat another cupcake…”

Put on your Magic Shoes

To keep little Jimmy dreaming big, get him a pair of size 20 basketball shoes to grow in to. This way Jimmy has a goal to strive for and (more importantly) someone to blame it on (himself) if things don’t pan out. Keep chugging that milk, Jimmy.

Hell Yes, You’re Going to Disney World

Economic times are menacingly brutal, and your vacation plans have been scuttled. It looks as though the family’s Disney trip will be replaced by a low-dollar jaunt to Skanky Lake & Cabins in the West Virginia holler, where you’ll have to clean the proprietor’s gun collection and wash dishes to cover your family’s tab.

Still, you can’t imagine breaking the heart of little Justin, who badly wants to visit Disney.

Encourage your lad to raise money for the Disney trip by setting up a lemonade stand. But instead of hawking lemonade, suggest he can make big bucks by offering passersby soymilk and fish sticks.

“Remember, Justin, our entire trip to Disney rests on your shoulders, but I don’t see how you won’t make a fortune. Maybe we can stay for an extra week with all the money you’ll make. It’s going to be awesome, little man!”

And, um…in the unlikely event that Justin fails, remind him to bring the petrified fish sticks for the road trip to West Virginia.

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

SillyDad May 4, 2009 at 12:53 pm

Bonus points if you’re the both the giver and the denier of hope. For example: “If you work really, really hard in school Timmy, I’ll buy you a brand new Mustang on your 16th birthday.”
Then, when he brings home all A’s, tell him you spent the money you were going to spend on his car on a boob job for his “new mom” whom you met at a truck stop in Minnesota.


jason May 4, 2009 at 1:22 pm

ah yes, develop the self-hatred and chip on the shoulder early.


Father Knows Worst May 4, 2009 at 1:46 pm

@SillyDad: Thus, perfectly preparing him for the working world. And hat’s off to you for your deft personal finance maneuvers.

@jason: Jaded and demoralized. Ready for full-time employment and a life of repetition.


Deb May 4, 2009 at 1:47 pm

Thanks for the continuing false hope for becoming a good mom! Power to the parent!



SillyDad May 4, 2009 at 2:33 pm

@Deb (Hey, FKW, mind if I chime in here?) The only hope of being a good parent is false hope. It is impossible to be a good parent. For every person that thinks you are doing an O.K. job there are at least a dozen who think you should be imprisoned.

Your best hope is that they’re too lazy and stupid to actually call D.S..S and report you and have you locked up. OR, you can hope they’ll actually raise one cheek of they’re lazy judgmental asses high enough to pull their cell phone out, act upon their convictions and make the call so the folks in blue will come and take you away and put you in solitary confinement for the next 20 years so you can finally have some peace and quiet.

In lieu of a padded cell, I find that this site is a welcome haven from the judgmental a-holes, parents who always seem to be perfect but who actually beat their children when nobody is looking and those who would have you believe you are not worthy to raise a child.

Keep up the awesome work FKW! You are my hero.


Miss C. May 4, 2009 at 4:45 pm

This delays disenchantment until the late teen years, when your children are no longer your problem (i.e. jails will take them in full-time)


Father Knows Worst May 4, 2009 at 4:47 pm

@SillyDad: Are you kidding? Preach on! You practically just wrote my mission statement.

@Miss C.: Wow. That’s brutal. I like where your head’s at.


fleshy flesherton May 6, 2009 at 9:36 am

FKB, i think you have an unhealthy obsession with the word “fleshy”.


sian July 18, 2009 at 6:03 am

Love this post-very funny, we had to include it in our high fives this week!


Gutsy Writer July 18, 2009 at 9:05 pm

You can always do what we did. Move your family to a 3rd world country for a year so they realize they have it “good” at home. Other kids play on the beach with a coconut for 3 hours and are skilled and don’t whine. They see that with their own eyes and you don’t have to teach them anything.


kitty August 4, 2009 at 7:36 am

Now just calm down and eat another cupcake

mmm cupcakes

They’re magical cupcakes that will help you grow strong and light so you’ll be the best ballerina in the world.

>_< This website is making me want to be a mother so I can mess with kids heads. Or maybe an aunty or teacher or librarian or something =P


Lucy October 27, 2009 at 6:53 am

Our kids go to a really big, mediocre public school where most of the parents haven’t gone to college. Last year, when 40 percent of the class got into the National Honor Society, they sold ADS in the program for the event and ALL these yahoos wrote things like: Little Timmy, this is the just the first step in your journey to Harvard!
Yes, like Harvard’s big enough to take forty percent of the class from every mediocre public school across the United States. It would have to take like 3 million kids a year!
and then there’s this mom whose kid plays the violin, scraping and honking away on a tinny public school violin in the orchestra. She has him convinced he’s going to Julliard! Even though he’s never had a lesson. I SO want to sit him down and turn on that PBS special with all the little Korean music geniuses performing Mozart so that he’ll get a clue.
Are these people really that stupid and clueless? How? and why?


Jerry January 15, 2010 at 8:43 am

At children sporting events I always quote that great philosopher………………….Homer J. Simpson.
“Remember kids you aren’t just playing to win, you’re playing for your parents love.”


Breastmilkmuses January 29, 2011 at 6:57 pm

This is so funny. I have a series of poems called “The Truth About Lies” and it’s based on how people sugar coat reality.


Danny Grubb May 10, 2011 at 8:56 am

False hope phrase #1: “We’ll see.”


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