Rules of Discipline, Part Three

If you missed them, read Part One and Part Two.

14. Accept that you are just like your mother or father and get on with your life. Whether their style of discipline worked or not, whether you liked it or not . . . it’s a done deal. If it makes it easier, know that your children will be just like you. For example, growing up I vowed never to say “Because I said so, that’s why!” The first time I said it, I was in labor and the kid WOULD NOT GET OUT OF ME. It helps a bit knowing I will pass that legacy on to my children.

15. Always set a curfew you can live with. Don’t tell them they can stay out till midnight if you want to be in bed by nine. It just makes everyone cranky.

16. Make sure they know “no means no.” Whether it’s your answer to their request for just one more ice cream cone, or your daughter’s answer when her date turns into an octopus … know that you have done your job well.

17. Require them to practice their instrument thirty minutes every day. Don’t you wish your parents had?

18. Avoid taking your toddler into men’s restrooms. During a trip to the hardware store, my husband had to take one of the kids to the restroom. Before his horrified eyes, this inquisitive child grabbed the rim of the urinal, pulled their cute widdle nose within millimeters of it and asked, “What’s this thing, Daddy?”  As God is my witness, I could not touch this child for several days.  Someone should invent “bleach mittens.”

19. If you laugh at bad behavior once, you’re a goner. The first time your toddler mimics vulgar language they picked up on the street, leave the room to laugh. Pretend you’re coughing. Jump up and say, “I’ve got to call Time and Temperature immediately!” Do anything, but do NOT let them see you laugh. If your fourteen-year-old swears, it’s easy not to laugh. But when an innocent, cherub-faced toddler hollers out something he might have learned, oh, maybe when you were trying to fix the disposal, or maybe when you dropped a carton of eggs, or maybe when that SUV cut you off — that’s something so startling it demands a big fat guffaw. Avoid this guffaw at all costs. A momentary lapse on your part will prime the pump for your innocent, cherub-faced toddler to holler this expletive anywhere, anytime, for any reason. Like in church. Or when Grandma is holding him. Trust me on this. They will. Instead, laugh yourself silly after they go to bed, regale your friends with the story the next day, and file the episode away into family folklore, to be trotted out at all holiday gatherings.

20. Don’t get all hung up on the whole “sharing” thing. It’s a nice sentiment, really it is, but how often do you do it? How many paychecks do you give away? Do you lend your car out willy nilly? I know you have candy stashed away in your underwear drawer. All adults do. I don’t think it’s reasonable to ask kids to do what you aren’t willing to do.

There. Twenty reasons why my kids are perfect in every way. Why are YOUR kids perfect in every way?

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