I’ve been embarrassing my children for more than 30 years. They now are happy young adults with loving spouses, adorable children and rewarding careers. Obviously, my strategy worked.
Throughout their childhood, I didn’t worry about harming their delicate self-esteem. Nor did I hover over their every action, schedule daily enrichment activities, make them eat kale, or ensure their socks matched. Instead, I created chaos and commotion just to motivate them to find peace and create order in their lives. I’m altruistic like that.
Children today are so pampered that some timid parents will become marooned in a horrifying, never-ending reality show if they don’t stop appeasing and indulging their tiny terrors. News flash: Your Kid Isn’t a Child Pharaoh. To toughen kids for real life, bewildered parents should halt most organized activities and throw in these handy tips to challenge their children’s self-confidence and encourage self-reliance.
1. Criticize their artwork. If your first-grader comes home with a hand-drawn picture, be sure to say that the tree looks like a spider and the sun should be more round. Then throw it away. Maybe she’ll try harder.
2. Show favoritism. Is the older child has an attractive project, be sure to tape it to the refrigerator for months and often mention the talent to the younger one. Give the older child extra dessert.
3. Exhibit lazy behavior. Stay in bed on Saturday morning and tell them to make their own damn pancakes. This is how children learn responsibility and cooking skills.
4. Take your own time-out. If the children are throwing a fit in the car, pull over to the side, turn off the engine, lean back, and close your eyes. Say, “Mommy is going away for a while.” Then chant in a foreign language for 10 minutes. They’ll be too traumatized to make noise.
5. Condemn their friends. Be sure to mock their friend’s silly habits. And when your teenager has a basement full of rowdy kids, walk in wearing a clown nose, belch loudly, and walk out. This instills a fear in your child that never goes away.
6. Cry when you meet your child’s first date. Sob into a towel, run into your room, and slam the door. This action will test their patience, strengthen their loyalty to each other, and promote tolerance.
7. Threaten them, if necessary. If your high school senior won’t write thank you notes for graduation presents, threaten to publish an announcement on social media that your child is too lazy and ungrateful to appreciate gifts now or in the future.
8. Bribery works. That hellhole of a bedroom won’t get clean on its own. Hide a $10 bill somewhere in the room and tell them to tidy and organize everything to find it. Substitute a $20 bill for particularly egregious cases that harbor toxic diseases. If they demand more money, tell them to move out and find an apartment.
Finally, remember that children can sense an easy target. If mommy and daddy are too weak and delicate to assume their strong but loving roles as parents, the kids will rule the house before the youngest is out of diapers and could stay in diapers for ten years. Parents can reverse this pending disaster by starting now to embarrass their children on a regular basis so the kids find the courage to grow up, move out, and prove themselves.
Go buy a clown nose. Thank me later.
Published on The Huffington Post Sept. 29, 2015