How To Be a Better Parent

Now that my daughters are “adults,” I can start telling other people how to raise their children. I can be one of those women with opinions about EVERY aspect of parenting, especially the ones I really sucked at.


(The tall ones are my daughters. The short ones are my grandkids. They’re all perfect. Like me.)

First, play with your kids. With my daughters, this meant playing Barbies every single day for 16 years. Of course, I was never Barbie, I was always Ken. And I never had clothes. And I was always at work.

Next, listen to your kids. Especially when they’re in the back seat of the car, and don’t realize you’re paying attention to the conversation. I learned LOTS of “secrets” by keeping my mouth shut in the driver’s seat.

Put the helicopter parenting techniques in the hangar. Nothing is more infuriating than dealing with a woman (or man) who does book reports, organizes science projects, accompanies their child to every play date, hides in the car in the parking lot during school hours to make sure kids play nice at recess, and who yells at the teacher when their child fails a subject. You are teaching your children NOTHING!

norma bates

(Norma Bates: ultimate helicopter mother. And we all know how Norman turned out.)

Allow your kids to fight. Allow your kids to be bored. You are not a cruise director. You do not need to organize, plan and entertain these creatures all. day. long. Kids who are bored are forced to use their imaginations. Of course, that often means you end up with disemboweled stuffed animals and missing spatulas. Still a mystery.

For every rule you set, your child will break it in many, creative ways. That’s all I have to say about that.

Be flexible with your schedule. Sometimes you just need to drop everything and spend the afternoon in the park. Other times, laundry can wait while you read “Brown Bear, Brown Bear” 634 times in a row.


(If this doesn’t drive you to drink, nothing will.)

Spend time one-on-one with each of your children. Go for ice cream, watch a movie, walk through the dinosaur museum–do what they love. Also, spend one-on-one time with your spouse, your therapist, your bartender and your mom–who is now laughing at you as you maneuver the pathways of parenthood.