By Phil Mullins
Raising children today can certainly be a difficult and grueling task. Knowing how to effectively navigate the often will-crushing, despair-infested waters known as parenthood has never been easy. Until now. Pay heed to these simple child-rearing tips, and you’ll be captain of the S.S. Good Parent in no time.
1. Social Media is your friend.
The absolute greatest resource you have in discovering how to best raise your kids is social media. Sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are chock full of the inspirational goodness you need to be a great parent. Feel like a failure in the kitchen? Log onto Pinterest to see the gluten-free chicken Parmesan tart poppers shaped like Danish wooden shoes that a mother of 7 whipped up while her kids were in their Russian grammar lessons. Wonder if you’ll ever have a picture that doesn’t include at least one child with food on their shirt, and at least one other blurry from trying to do somersaults? Then you’ll not want to miss that friend-of-a-friend’s Facebook album consisting of 100’s of photos of perfectly coiffed and content children taken as they frolic through a sun-kissed organic kale field full of rainbow-colored butterflies. That feeling in the pit of your stomach is equal parts guilt, disillusionment and determination. Grit your teeth, harness that power and turn it into child-rearing magic.
2. Look to the stars.
Another great resource we have at our disposal are celebrities. There is literally nothing they don’t know about life, love and the raising of humans. At least weekly, while you’re buying 15 half-gallons of milk because they’re on sale, grab a magazine and check in to see how the stars are raising their children. Is that so-and-so’s daughter wearing a jacket made completely out of pieces of the Berlin Wall? You’ll never know if you don’t look. Remember: They are in magazines for a reason.
3. Sweat the small stuff.
Every mistake you make with your children has the potential to snowball into a life-scarring event which can then have a horrific ripple effect for generations to come. You may do 99.9% of this parenting thing right. But that 0.1% can be catastrophic. Let that knowledge keep you up at night. You’ll be a better parent because of it.
4. Buy your child a Smartphone TODAY.
If you’re one of those super-conservative parents who have been holding out on buying your 4-year-old an iPhone, let me make this perfectly clear to you: Your child needs that phone and now. You may have noted a lot of scholarly journals and talking heads decrying the “fact” that American children are falling behind the rest of the known world in so called “academics.” That may or may not be true – I don’t understand “statistics.” However, I’ll tell you what we’re not falling behind in: thumb and finger swipe dexterity, not to mention Angry Bird high scores. Swiping screens is second nature to our children, a nature that needs to be nurtured. In fact, finger and thumb swiping has been observed via 4D ultrasound to be a primary function in utero (according to people somewhat familiar with the matter). It’s in their DNA, and by depriving them of their own Smartphone, you are setting them back YEARS when compared with their peers, turning them into strange little creatures who would rather have a conversation or play outside than run a virtual pet hotel.
As an added bonus, Smartphones give you a much deserved respite from the constant barrage of questions from inquiring minds. Don’t know what a monkey’s favorite dessert is or what keeps a helicopter in the air? I don’t either, but I know who does: Siri. And, if you’re not comfortable letting a digital assistant have free reign to interact for hours with your kids, give her the British female voice and pretend she’s Mary Poppins. Spoonful of sugar, indeed!
5. It takes “The Village.”
Ten years ago, parents were given a life-changing gift in the release of M. Night Shyamalan’s masterpiece movie “The Village.” I believe the debate has been forever settled that this is the greatest movie of all time. If there is a chance you haven’t seen it, shame on you. The plot is simple: A small group of people residing in what appears to be rural 19th-century Pennsylvania live in fear of creatures that inhabit the surrounding woods, terrifying, obscure beasts the villagers refer to as “Those we don’t speak of.” I won’t ruin the end for you, but just suffice it to say that this gem of a movie serves as a great reminder that the world outside your home is a monstrous place, and that your children must never forget that lest they pompously begin to think life elsewhere is as rewarding as life with you. Of course, you don’t want them to stay forever, but you do want them to never feel completely happy without you, to always have an invisible tether to your front door – you’ve worked too hard for anything less. To that end, I always recommend you watch this movie with your children, while they are young and often. Tell them it’s based on a true story, one that took place not far from where you live. That soul-searching trepidation you see in their precious faces means it’s working. They’ll more than likely thank you for it down the road.
So, there they are. Good luck, and remember: You are your child’s greatest parent.