Before I start; a disclaimer. I haven’t yet raised any children all the way through to adulthood. When you meet my children in 15 years time, if they are complete dicks; you are hereby entitled to contact me and say ‘Well you clearly knew nothing, that blog you wrote in December 2017 was flawed to say the least.’ In fact; some of you may already know my children and want to contact me right now to tell me I have already failed miserably in this mission.
Disclaimer part 2: Apologies if you have done any of the things I am about to mock/criticise. I am not trying to be the next Jo Frost ‘Supernanny’, I’m not claiming to be an expert… these are just some (incredibly astute and insightful I’m sure you’ll agree) observations. I’m not running a dictatorship; you do what you like and I’m sure you are a wonderful parent. Just don’t get all offended now and then one day in the future ring me to say ‘Sarah I fear I’ve made my children into complete dicks!’.
1) Don’t buy them absolutely everything they want.
Sounds simple but it’s not as easy in practice is it!? My friend Emma suggests that for Christmas kids should get ‘something they want, something they need, something to wear and something to read.’ Now yes; Emma is a horrible mother (joking babes) but there’s something in this!
While we’re on the subject of Christmas; please God don’t be one of those parents who posts a photo of your little darlings’ mountain of presents on Christmas Eve… let’s just say it’s not your kids who look like the complete dicks in this scenario. Nobody likes a show-off.
If your kids are older; again, please God don’t buy them a brand new top of the range BMW for their 17th birthday and wrap it in a bow. Let them drive something old and rusty where they’re not going to be distracted by heated seats and voice-activated sat nav. Let them give their old banger a name and grow to love it. It’s a rite of passage.
2) Manage their insane expectations
We’re still on cars here. Please I beg you don’t have a sticker in your car saying ‘Mummy’s little Princess/Daddy’s little Prince on board’. You will make other road users feel ILL.
In general; try not to call them Princess (sorry but this is mainly a mother of girls crime). She is not a princess; she is a normal lovely little girl and one day she will get a job in a hairdressers or a bank and she will have a very nice time. However if she grows up thinking she’s a princess she may well have unrealistic expectations of her prospects, become a right diva and in time…a complete dick.
3) Ignorance is not bliss
Talk to your child about what is going on in the world. Make sure they know that poverty is not just something that happens on the other side of the globe; it’s often on their doorstep. Don’t let them be one of those adults who proudly proclaims ‘I know nothing about politics, I’m not interested. I don’t even know who the prime minister is!‘. As my good friend Stephy once rightly said; apathy is never cool.
4) Don’t defend them against everybody.
Open your glazed-over-with-love eyes. Sometimes it really is their fault and they need to take responsibility for it. Like the time Dylan ran out of the soft play screaming, ‘Maammm that boy just called me a shitbag!’. I did not as some parents would do, go and find the boy and ask to speak to his parents. I calmly told Dylan that I had been watching him in the soft play and ‘shitbag’ was a very accurate description of him at that point in time.
Number 5) Don’t schedule the fuck out of them.
It does not make you look cool when you tell the world that Jacinta does ballet on a Monday, Mandarin on a Tuesday, Kung Fu on a Wednesday, Cello on a Thursday and Draaaaaama on a Friday.
It makes you look like you don’t really like hanging out with Jacinta. And I bet Jacinta is tired. I bet Jacinta would love a night vegging out in her pj’s with her family watching Ninja Warrior UK.
Let Jacinta chill with her mates and find the person she really is. Chasing the Year 2 Trumpet trophy because you want her to win it could at best make her feel quite sad, and at worst, contribute to her being one of those annoying ‘I’m good at absolutely everything’ people.
Number 6) Don’t be tough on boys and soft on girls.
Stop telling little boys to toughen up. If you insist on telling 3 year old boys to ‘man up’; you will make them emotionally repressed angry young men who could quite easily turn into…you’ve guessed it; complete dicks!
If you insist on telling children to man up then make sure you’re saying it to your daughters as well as your sons. Why should girls think it’s ok for them to be the weaker sex?
Number 7) Encourage healthy competition; not one-upmanship.
There is a more than subtle difference. Celebrate their achievements of course, but teach children to support their friends and siblings to achieve more, rather than trying to win at everything all of the time.
We all know that kid who is like ‘oh you’re in stage 3 at swimming!? I’m in stage 5.’ Or ‘oh you went to the pantomime did you? I’m going to Lapland.’
Mark my words they’ll be the person boring the tits off everyone at a dinner party in years to come going ‘oh yah yah London house prices are craaaazy. I’m so glad we bought at the right time; we can afford to buy outright in the Home Counties now! Have I mentioned my latest bonus by the way..?’ Nobody likes a mortgage-free wanker.
So there we go. I’m spent. All the tips I can muster on how to raise pleasant children. I quite enjoyed that…if I can just rein in my potty mouth, maybe I’ll write a parenting book! Watch your back Jo Frost Supernanny.