Trick or Treat … or Therapy

halloween-kid

Well, at least he won't be whining about you taking him around the neighborhood for candy.

Rule #102: Force Kids to Wear Sunblock Indoors

sunblock-indoors

Don't get too close to the window. Or the camera flash.

Let’s face it, the sun is Satan’s play toy.

With his ball of hell fire, the Evil One is able to create droughts, sizzle the new paint job on your Escalade, and coax nubile young women to wear bathing suits exposing lovely, sun-kissed soft skin parts that the dark demon wants the world to illicitly see.

And then there’s the issue of your children’s sensitive skin. [Read more...]

Rule #101: Use Your Children to Test Electrical Outlets

child-test-outlets

Daddy! How much longer before I get to glow in the dark?

Electricians, much like doctors, are overrated and expensive, which means you can usually do their easy and relatively safe work yourself.

You have never been afraid of strong electrical currents, but you do have to support your family and couldn’t afford to be out of work if, in the unlikely event, an accident with actual, you know, electricity should occur.

So hedge your bets and let your children bear the brunt of testing all the rewiring you’ve done in the new family room. [Read more...]

Rule #98: Blame Your Kids for Natural Disasters

blame-kids-for-natural-disasters

It's simple, Timmy. You urinate on the toilet seat, God urinates on the world. And it's your fault.

Everyone is so convinced that earthquakes, wildfires, hurricanes and lousy liposuction jobs are acts of god…or maybe Rupert Murdoch.

God and Murdoch are great candidates, but they don’t necessarily help you instill a lack of confidence, coupled with a dose of paranoia, in your child. You want your son and daughter to feel the weight of the world coming down on them for misguided actions? [Read more...]

Rule #96: Allow Your Child to Touch Everything

kids-touch-everything

What's filthier: my hands, or the scabby Band-Aid I just picked up?

Tactile learning is incredibly important to a young mind.

And if you find yourself in the company of a chimp, sloppy-drunk frat brother or eager child, you’ll notice they possess an impulse to touch and otherwise disturb everything that comes into their line of vision. [Read more...]

Rule #91: Rent an Old Geezer for the Holidays

grandpa wearing gloves

Did you really think these No-Grope Gloves could stop 95 years of tradition and primal instinct?

It’s time. Your children have gone long enough without a traditional Christmas grandparent.

They need to experience a Werther’s butterscotch moment with someone who’s really old and wearing a snowflake-embroidered, cuddly sweater laced with the scent of pine needles and wood smoke.

The only problem is that your dad ran off in 1986 with a cocktail waitress from Lubbock. It shocked everyone, but it happened. [Read more...]

Rule #84: Own Wild Animals As Pets

wild animals as pets

Eff Mary and her little lamb. You're getting a fawn.

Have you ever witnessed the wonder in a child’s eyes when he spots a deer during one of your walks?

We have. Many, many times.

And while our first reaction is, “Hey, I bet it would be really cool and comforting to rub my face up against that deer’s lush white tail when I’m sleepy and a little drunk,” our second reaction is infinitely more practical:

“I absolutely must get a deer for my kid as a pet because no one else has one, and we would be considered all progressive and a little edgy. I want a deer, and I want one right now.” [Read more...]

Rule #83: Teach Your Child to Shoplift

teach your child to shoplifting

Remember kids, it's only a crime if you get caught.

Yes, it has come to this.

Not necessarily because your paycheck is lighter or you’re struggling to pay the mortgage, but merely because of the existential thrill of giving your child career alternatives.

Besides, everyone needs a hobby, and playing the clarinet will get your kid roughed up in school.

Lest we forget, in the long run, this benefits you, since you should encourage your child to pilfer things that you need. [Read more...]

Rule #77: Raise Your Child in a Barn

raise kids in barn

So, when Cowy goes to college, I can have his room?!

Organic farming practices are something to adore.

They produce gnarled, marble-size potatoes and apples as tasty as a kiss from a farmer who has been making his own organic toothpaste since 1965.

Which is why it makes perfect sense to raise what we like to call “organic barn children.”

Organic barn children are a bold answer to the parental refrain, “What? Do you think you were raised in a barn?”
[Read more...]

Rule #72: Give Your Kid a Trophy For Everything

trophies for everything

Sigh...

If you’re like most parents, you probably spend an inordinate amount of time wondering why the world hasn’t heaped more praise on your child.

After all, he’s amazingly special, what with the way he can talk without dribbling creamed corn down his chin—oh, and the way he remembers the sequence of Slurpee flavors on tap at 7-Eleven, or the way he can recite all the major plot points of the Twilight series without taking a breath.

Those traits require talent, and they’re almost as good than splitting the atom. [Read more...]

Rule #71: Fake Memory Loss

fake memory loss

I definitely would have remembered if I said anything about saving for your college education. You're thinking of someone else.

We all do it. We promise our children things that, upon later reflection, turn out to be impossible to bestow.

Like telling your son you’ll build him a tree fort if he sleeps past 7 on Saturday morning.

First, you don’t know shit about tree forts other than they require planning, nailing and hammering skills, and the only planning, nailing and hammering skills you possess involved several coeds as an undergrad.

So, yes, the tree fort promise was a buffoonish move, but it’s also a parental move. We’re in the habit of offering things that simply cannot happen once clarity takes over.

And, naturally, children always have clarity. They remember your every word. But that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to…in fact, it’s your prerogative to forget everything. [Read more...]

Rule #63: Lie to Your Child About How Important You Are

What, you think they let just anyone sit here?

Watch, son. I sit here and people just hand over money. They call that respect where I'm from.

There was a time when people used to look at you with a mix of envy, awe and desire to make out in the bathroom at Big Willie’s Bar & Notary.

But you were younger and infinitely more ambitious then. Your life was a canvas framed in the gilded trappings of potential.

That’s the word people used about you—potential. “He has the potential to do big things that don’t involve wearing a smock or a hair net,” they’d say. But then, sometime in the past 15 years, they sort of stopped saying that about you.

Which means your career has either flat-lined or you’ve delayed the success that will inevitably come your way just as soon as you lose a limb or get violently maimed on the job and collect long-term disability.

Until that time, you have to lie to your children about how important you are, because every kid wants to brag on the playground about his parents’ success.
[Read more...]

Rule #61: Discourage Most Forms of Reading

Jimmy, put that trash away. Don't you know that crap will rot your already tiny brain?

Jimmy, put that trash away. Don't you know that crap will rot your already tiny brain?

Remember that time in junior high when you were so enthralled by Moby Dick that you read deep into the night and barely slept an hour?

And the other times—too numerous to count—that you slept through your high-school morning alarm because you fell madly, passionately in love with the melodious phrasing of Joyce and the intellectual bravado of Bellow?

Oh, wait. That never happened.

It never happened because reading sort of hurts your head (the temporal lobe, if you’re looking for a specific area) and, despite what the well-meaning, NPR-listening crowd says, reading is just a bunch of words and stories that aren’t nearly as interesting as the shit going down in your neighborhood or on TV. [Read more...]

Rule #56: Join Forces With the Monster Under the Bed

Just lay low for now, and if he's still awake after 10, just crawl out and lick his hand or something.

Just lay low for now, and if he's still awake after 10, just crawl out and lick his hand or something.

Every parent needs an ally, and there’s no better source of unknown evil to a toddler or small child than the monster under the bed.

Use this sinister source to your advantage when trying to sway your child to follow any of your home’s random rules that, truth be told, most children with the brain function of a parsnip wouldn’t bother following anyway.

But that’s not the point.

The point, as we see it in our long-term, tainted-by-Donnie-Darko worldview, is to break your child’s will and foment the beginnings of rampant paranoia that will one day have him scampering up trees like a feral tabby when any sign of danger approaches your home. [Read more...]

Rule #52: Give Your Child False Hope

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.  [Read more...]

Rule #49: Steal Your Kid’s Money

There is DEFINITELY enough in here for some malt liquor.

There is DEFINITELY enough in here for some malt liquor.

His piggy bank sits there, pregnant with quarters and tightly folded dollars bills and an occasional 5 spot.

And, truth is, this big ceramic piece of money-saving goodness kind of mocks you.

It says: Look at how Little Daniel is earnestly stowing away money every day, and look at how it accumulates nicely. And you? Your savings account is a barren womb of financial disappointment.

You have no cash these days, and your credit card has become a plastic whore of convenience who lays down any time you’d like.

That’s why swiping your child’s piggy bank cash—just to have a little walking-around money—is important to your social status and the engine that drives our great economy. [Read more...]

Rule #46: Exploit Your Kids for Useless Causes

This seems like a really long line, but I can't wait to meet the Jonas Brothers!

This seems like a really long line, but I can't wait to meet the Jonas Brothers!

Dating back to your days as a geeky trombone player in junior high, people have been ignoring you.

There was the time you ran away from home, and then…well, no one noticed. And there was the episode when your “human chain of one” couldn’t stop the 100-year-old elm tree in your neighborhood from being chopped down.

Oh, and the time your parents went on vacation without you (you still can’t watch “Home Alone” without breaking into the hippie shakes and a cold sweat).

Thankfully for you, as a parent, the calvary has already arrived in the form of your kids.

There’s nothing that attracts a crowd quite like dangling a baby out of a window and likewise, bringing your child along to protests and rallies.

Besides, exploiting your child to advance your personal cause is not only noble, but it also has fringe benefits like: [Read more...]

Rule #41: Blame Your Kids for Everything

See, this is where you screwed up my taxes, dipshit.

See this, dipshit? This is where you screwed up our taxes. Thanks.

The economy sucks, your Escort needs new wiper blades, and you’ve developed a sore on your upper lip that looks like some kind of small, angry shell fish.

Amid all of these maladies, it’s clear that you need a scapegoat. And choosing the innocent, the pure, and the powerless is always the best way to go.

That’s why it’s important to blame your child for every shortcoming and bad break you can think of—it’ll make you feel better and steel your child against the unfairness he’ll face later in life. [Read more...]

Rule #29: Confuse Your Teen About Sex

If they don't know what to do, they won't bother trying. Or they'll stop in the middle and get hit by a car.

If they don't know what to do, they won't bother trying. Or they'll stop in the middle and get hit by a car.

Sex and teenagers simply don’t mix, nor does honesty when it comes to you explaining the finer points of doing the deed.

No matter what you say—or how you say it—you’ll never get it right, and you’ll wind up sounding like a cross between Dr. Phil and the guy from the Sham-Wow infomercial.

That’s why it’s important to pass along sex-related information that’s simple and entirely untrue. [Read more...]

Rule #23: Use TV as a Babysitter

Your kid looks to you for wisdom and guidance. You tell him Suze Orman is on at 9.

Your kid looks to you for wisdom and guidance. You tell him Suze Orman is on at 9.

Parenting takes up way too much time, and sometimes you just need a proxy while you’re hiding in the kitchen pounding martinis.

As best we can tell, there’s not a better and more nurturing substitute for your stellar parenting than the almighty television.

That’s why it’s important to use TV every chance you get as a babysitter. The boob tube never fails to offer a warm glow when your children need a little love because you’re too tired, distracted, or hammered to provide it.
[Read more...]

Rule #20: Use God to Make Your Kids Paranoid

Kids not coming when you call them in for dinner? You know where to go for help.

Kids not coming when you call them in for dinner? You know where to go for help.

It’s easy to hit a brick wall when disciplining children. No matter what approach we take—whether it’s verbal coddling or threatening to take away important things like food and water—our words sometimes fall flat, and our children continue their rotten behavior.

Which is why you should threaten the use of the Almighty Hammer. That’s right, using God’s wrath as a threat to your children – especially in trivial situations – can be the extra ammo you need in your battle against your child’s general incompetence and lack of social graces. [Read more...]

Rule #5: Make Up Stuff About History

make up history to kids

Make up history to kids. It's fun, and they'll believe you.

Since your child assumes you’re the conduit of legitimate information, he or she will never know if you make up stuff about history. You’ll look smart, sound smart, and gain respect no matter what the scenario.

When your child brings home an irritating assignment from one of the motivated teachers at his school, you may have to answer vexing gems like “Who wrote the United States Constitution?” But you don’t have to worry, you can sit back in your recliner and confidently tell him:

[Read more...]