Children are effervescent and forever evanescent, transcendent, pre-pubescent and semi-translucent, they’re the greatest creatures on earth, bar none. Children are not only the future – they are the past and the present perfect to boot.
Hi I’m Peggy Margaretson and though I’ve never raised any children of my own, I do possess a doctoral degree in a related field from a semi-prestigious university and I’ve spent most of the last two weekends reading nothing but parenting magazines – and of course I was a kid once, I had a mother – so I feel more than qualified to address this sensitive and all-important topic, and offer you some thoughts and tips and perspectives on how you can conquer the child-raising demon and get your kids the hell out of the house safe, happy, and well-equipped to handle the vicissitudes of modern living.
Everyone wants their kids to turn out great but as we all know the world is full of jerks so clearly somebody’s screwing up somewhere. We would all like our children to devote more of their energies to, say, learning to play the piano, than (say) vivisection. But how can we ensure a satisfying outcome? No one seems to really know; according to the magazines I read it is difficult to find a balance but I think you just have to be yourself and hope for the best. Let me offer a few tips of my own, based on, you know, whatever I can think of here, straight from Dr. Peggy’s lips to your ears, through the medium of human language wherever possible.
If you have ever raised a dog or cat, that’s about seventy-five percent of raising a child right there. Leave out a food dish and make provisions for the proper disposal of the post-digestive byproduct, keep them off the good furniture, provide a clean safe environment and positive reinforcement for desired actions in the form of affection and snacks, make sure they get outside and get some exercise daily, and really run them into the ground once in a while, make them some kind of bed and clean it now and again, don’t let them sleep with you except during thunderstorms, buy or make a sweater you can put on them on cold days, don’t let them eat out of the garbage or chase cars, etc. The only important difference (except for the spaying part, not to frown on anyone’s religion): you can’t let your human kid stick its head out the window of a moving car. Sad, but true.
You have got to build your child’s self-esteem. But not too much or you will ruin it. Don’t give too much praise or too little, but give exactly the right amount of praise only at the appropriate moments and with the proper tone (calm but excited, deeply involved but not overbearing). No single false step will ruin a child completely, but a series of only slightly wrong actions can add up over time to have a devastating impact not only on a particular child but also on his or her future tennis partners or fellow obelisk enthusiasts.
Never forget for a second that your child’s success or failure in every tiny moment is a direct reflection of your competence as a parent and your worth as a human.
Instead of praising your kids, you can teach them to praise you. Require them to constantly shower you with plaudits for every little move you make. This will build your self-esteem, and studies show that parents with high self-esteem raise high self-esteem children. Your children will learn how to appear to be praising something they really don’t think much of; this will make them better suck-ups while teaching the valuable lesson that most praise is insincere and therefore not to be taken too seriously. Win-win.
Leaving all of the above aside – no, a little more to the left … yeeeah right there – studies show and common sense confirms that today’s youth are greatly overstimulated and therefore facing a profound understimulation deficit with respect to previous generations, that is to say us normal people. Recent research also indicates that boredom is an essential precondition for creativity. Therefore, if we want to raise the next generation of mindblowing artists we should be doing our utmost to bore our children to tears. Of course it starts with taking away the electronic gizmos, but that is merely the beginning. You can reduce the visual intensity of their t-shirts, towels, school supplies and accessories. Keep window shades drawn, or purchase blinders to clamp to the sides of your child’s head. You don’t have to convert little Cyan’s bed to a sensory deprivation chamber just yet although somebody should probably try it, interesting experiment. Understimulating your child does require commitment: one time I checked my family into a four-star hotel but when I saw the surfeit of rococo in the exterior accents and the intricate fractal pattern of the lobby wallpaper, we turned around and walked right out of there. It was way too much to take in, had to eat our deposit on that but when it comes to protecting my children’s future, give me olive drab décor any day of the week.
What am I even talking about here? Didn't I say earlier I don't have kids? Either way, parenting is a crapshoot and the sooner we recognize that, the better. All parents can do, it seems, is provide free room and board, try to set a good example, and hope for the best. So let’s just get out there and get after ‘em, let’s show ‘em who we are, really give ‘em what fer, let’s get out there in the second half and raise those kids to the best of our abilities guys!