(More) Free Parenting Advice


Raising a child is one of the most gratifying jobs that thankfully I will never have. It is also one of the most difficult, especially when it comes to talking about mature-themed topics.

While many websites offer advice on communicating effectively with your child, often times these tips can leave you with more questions than answers.  That’s why I’ve taken the liberty of compiling these tips along with easy-to-understand explanations based solely on my understanding.

As always, my advice is free. All I ask is that you send me your child’s name and birthdate so I can list him/her as a dependent and qualify for the 2012 child-tax credit.

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How To Effectively Communicate With Children

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.1. Start Early

The earlier the better. If you aren’t too exhausted from childbirth, I suggest you start the minute your child is detached from the umbilical cord.

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.At first, it might just be a few words here and there. Aim to have the Miriam Webster Dictionary memorized by the time they’re four.

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2. Use Words They Can Understand

If you want your child to grasp, you need to speak in terms they can relate to.

Forbidding your twelve-year old daughter from “Using her milkshake to bring the boys to the yard” will be far more effective than if you were to use big, complicated words like “Chlamydia” and “Social Welfare”.

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Horrifying. (Or, that's what I heard, anyway.)

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3. Focus On The Positive

All children–especially the younger ones–thrive on praise. Even if your child doesn’t do anything praise-worthy, you can still build their self-esteem by using the following statements:

  • Well (not) done!
  • I’m proud of you for something that I can’t think of right now.
  • That’s a beautiful drool pattern you made on your shirt.
  • Thanks for not cluttering the display case with any sports trophies and/or academic awards.
  • If ‘Making a Better Door Than a Window’ was a sport, you’d win a gold medal!
  • I love how your fingers never leave your hands.
  • Way to just be!

"I knew you could do it, son!"

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4. Be Frank

If you don’t feel comfortable talking about sensitive topics with your child, it might help if you pretend to be someone else. Like Frank Zappa, for example.

He seemed like a really cool guy who could talk about anything.

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"Yo. S'up?"

.Whatever you do, don’t be Frank Sinatra.

When a British Diplomat once asked Ava Gardner about the crooner, her reply was, “There’s only ten pounds of Frank, but there’s one hundred and ten pounds of his cock.”

I think you’ll agree that this would just make things awkward for both of you.

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Ava, shortly after being "Frank-ed"

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5. Initiate Conversations

Say you and your young daughter are watching a television program together where the plot includes a teenage pregnancy.

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The Original Degrassi

.Once the show is over, ask her what she thought of the program. Then ask her to give you the specifics on the gestation period for newborns.

Not only will this encourage conversation, it will also prepare her for the rigours of child birth.

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6. Try To Listen to Your Child

The key word here is “try”. By giving the appearance that you’re listening, you are letting them think they are worthy of your time.

If your child approaches you while you’re reading the paper, turn to the section that takes less concentration. Like the comics section. Or if you’re on the phone, ask your friend if she would mind holding for a minute while you listen to what the kid has to say.

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Also, remember to be patient. We all know that kids have a tendency to go on and on. As adults, we’re tempted to say “SPIT IT OUT, ALREADY!” Try to resist this impulse.

Don’t use put-down words or statements. Instead, use unambiguous facial expressions to get your point across.

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"Son, do you have any stories that come in 'Not totally lame'?"

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7. Don’t Embarrass Them

There will be plenty of time for that at their high school graduation, or wedding reception. Making fun of them now is pointless, since their minds aren’t sophisticated enough to get the joke.

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8. Be Honest

Remember that You don’t need to answer all of your children’s questions immediately.

If your child asks “What’s foreplay?” it’s perfectly fine to say “Please just finish your lunch.”

Or, if your curious youngster asks you to explain the term “Donkey Punch” while at your bosses’ dinner party, it’s perfectly okay for you to say, “You’re grounded.”

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9. Create An Open Environment

The more open the environment, the easier it will be to actually find the child you’re trying to communicate with.

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Start by eliminating clutter. According to my ex-boyfriend, clutter blocks the flow of Chi and creates stagnant energy that can impede communication and smother the passion in relationships by causing feelings of extreme boredom and whatever else he said that I couldn’t be bothered to listen to because the guy was so boring.

If you really want your Chi to flow, buy a couple of Fu Dogs and place them outside the front door. That way your child will be all, “Hey, those are cool! Mom, can we get a real dog?” and pretty soon he’ll have forgotten what he was asking in the first place.

If you don’t know what Fu Dogs are, then figure it out. I’m not your Sensei.

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Comments

  1. I think my wife has taken up the 3rd one. Focus on the Positive.

    Her favorite line is “You’re sexy when you clean the cat litter”

  2. “I love how your fingers never leave your hands.” Brilliant. People just don’t take time to appreciate the little things. Like how the Earth’s rotation doesn’t send us all hurling into space – or how until this VERY moment, I always thought the phrase was “hurdling into space” until I was typing that just now, got a flash of Jackie Joyner-Kersee in my head and though, “holy…”

    • And now I find out it is actually “hurtling” I want… This is almost as bad as the time I thought people bored with their surroundings need “a change of paste”

      • If it makes you feel any better, I thought it was “herding into space…”?

        Once, I was reading the drink menu at some fancy restaurant, when suddenly my date gently put his hand over mine and said, “Honey, it’s pronounced ‘dackery’, not ‘dack-queery.'”

        Needless to say, that didn’t last long.

        • elizabeth3hersh says:

          Reminds me when my best friend’s boyfriend doubled over laughing after I ordered what he thought sounded like “jerked chicken*.” The waiter and I just rolled our eyes. Our server had to wait a full 10 minutes for him to compose himself so he could finish taking the order.

          *jerk chicken…it’s Jamaican…and it’s amazing (course, I’m vegetarian now).

  3. Can I get you to come over to my house to explain to my son what the word “sexy” means? He asked me last night after he just kept singing some song with that in the chorus and when I told him to stop singing it, he asked what it meant. Based on the above tips, I’m sure your answer would scar him for life . . . with knowledge!!

    Also, I am going to start congratulating my kids from now on by telling them “way to just be.” I mean, usually they are just being annoying, like around dinner time every freaking night, but at least they are being. So congrats kids!

    • Of course I’ll come over, to tell you the truth I never thought you’d ask! Not that it would have stopped me, mind you, but I did feel a bit apprehensive about just showing up unannounced and doing my “parenting thang” with your kids, followed by my “eating thang” with the contents of your fridge and my “watching thang” with your television set. Oh, and also my “signature thang,” where I eventually say good-bye but then two weeks later you find me squatting in your basement.

      What can I say? It’s my “shtick”.

  4. Oh yeah…. this post is so Mexicany

    • Okay, well maybe not so much the post itself, but definitely the speed at which I’m responding to comments.;) I never realize how much I depend on the internet (for everything besides bathing/feeding me-I’m hoping to get that app for Christmas) until I go to a region that defines high-speed as “faster than it would take to walk there…”

  5. Spike! The original misunderstood slut with a heart of gold.

    My brother had a stammer when he was little. He would start a sentence, “I, I, I, I, I, I, I, I, I, I, I…” and I would always finish his sentence for him by screaming the first part of Ozzy’s Crazy Train: AYEE AYEE AYEEE!!!

    I think it totally helped. *throws up the devil horns*

    • Um, just so you know, this comment almost made me pee my pantalones. (That’s lederhosen, in Spanish.)

      When my sister was a baby, I would hide under her crib and make ghost sounds. Only back then, ghosts sounded less ghost-like and more like a raspy Emmanuel Lewis/Scooby Doo.

      Also, instead of saying “Oooh OOOH” they said things like, “YOU ARE ADOPTED….WE ARE NOT YOUR REAL FAMILY…DO NOT GET TOO COMFORTABLE HERE…”

      My mom says I’m the reason my sister didn’t start talking until she was six. But deep down I’m sure she realizes that ghost sounds can not make kids slow.)

      ps. I will now have “Crazy Train” in my head for the next three siestas.

  6. Muy divertido!
    I live with 2 pugs, so it’s fu dog city around here. I’m going to try the facial expressions on my cats and my gays.

    • Hola mi amiga! I ‘m so happy to see you in the blogosphere.

      How are your cats? They must have had a hard time adjusting to the move, I mean with the gays and all. Just kidding!! (The last thing I need is for Mr. “You’re an Eskimo Racist!” guy to turn into Mr. “You’re a Gay Eskimo Racist!” guy.) But seriously, though, my cat hated other humans, let alone other animals. We couldn’t even drive by a bird on the highway without him somehow maneuvering his way out of the ropes and then jumping off the car roof to attack. (What can I say, my dad didn’t like cat hair on his leather interior.)

      ps. It’s true what they say, cat’s really do have 99 lives!

  7. Sorry? What? I was thinking about Frank Sinatra .

  8. You are the next Dr. Spock.

  9. I’m pretty new to your blog, but I have to say that the scalpel in the eye graphic is the single funniest thing I’ve seen this year. I hope that you will find a way to incorporate it into every post going forward.

    Also, the single most legitimate piece of advice I’ve given my 13 year-old is “Don’t take shit from anybody.” I don’t think I’ve taught her anything else useful besides that. I sure as hell haven’t taught her anything about housekeeping.

    • Thanks Gena! I’m actually working on turning the pic into a line of greeting cards. I think it will work on so many levels.

      Everything from “Congrats on The New Baby!” to “Thinking of You.”

      ps. Housekeeping is overrated, anyway. (Unless you’re a housekeeper.)

  10. B, these are simply superb! Actual parents, as opposed to us “virtual parents” never have time to understand these processes. They are too exhausted from trying to keep one step ahead of the dear little fertilizer factories.

    I did get asked by a young nephew what foreplay was. I told him it was the one after threeplay. He hasn’t asked me anything else in years.

    • Seriously, why can’t I stop laughing at this?
      If only I’d said that to my younger cousin when she started asking me questions. Maybe then she would have taken an interest in math.

  11. So I too am childless but I love giving parenting advice. I want to write a book called “better parenting through blackmail” that explains to parents how to use the awkward baby footage they have on their camcorders to sell the phrase “Home by 10 or it goes on Facebook”

    • At least blackmail would make sense! What bothers me is when parents publicly share their EXTREMELY awkward baby footage with 300+ FB”friends,” for no other reason than because they think it’s funny. Especially when the kid is still at an impressionable age, where something like that could scar them for life.

      (Or, so I’ve heard, anyway….)

  12. “Raising a child is one of the most gratifying jobs that thankfully I will never have.” Amen!!
    This is very kind of you to give all this excellent advice. Whenever my breeder friends start talking about how to handle difficult situations with their kids I just mutter “sucks to be you” and go out drinking on a week night, cause I can.

  13. Without question, you’re the best mom there never was.

  14. Loved the “fingers” thing.

    When my son asks who I love more, his sister or him, I always answer, “You’re my favourite son.”

    I think it’s important that you only have one child of each sex so you can say things like that. ;)

    • I agree! Had my mother stopped at me and not gone on to have another daughter, she wouldn’t have had to worry about being accused of favortism after focusing her attention for more than three seconds on any one child.

  15. (1) I would have killed for one of those “not having asthma” awards. Mainly because I *did* have asthma — what a loser.
    (2) Would you pleeeeease be my sensei?

    • 1) Don’t talk about my favorite professor/ the one who makes learning fun again even when it wasn’t really fun in the first place that way!

      2) Only if you will be my sensor.

      (Er, when I find out what that means, I’ll figure a way to incorporate it into my daily life.)

  16. You are too late with your advice, mine are done. When I say done I mean once they are 14 they either get it or they don’t. Luckily my daughter gets it. Son, jury still out on that one. He is brilliant, of course. Once when we were driving he asked from the back seat what a BJ (used the actual 2 words) was. I told him just don’t say those two words together. He sat in the back seat quietly for a while then said in a loud voice, “Wind Career” I couldn’t stop laughing for miles!

    • HAHAHA! That is the funniest story ever. Your son is beyond brilliant!

      I really need to stop drinking liquids while reading comments. I spit orange pop (or soda, as you guys call it?) all over my screen when I first read this and had to spend the next half hour cleaning it…

  17. I wish I could say I earned a “Not Having Asthma” award, but alas, I’m the iconic, asthmatic geek :( My parents found other ways to praise me though, for things like my lack of polio and smallpox. It was crushing when I found out that was thanks to no skill of my own, but rather because of improvements in science.

    • Haha! If it makes you feel better, I was the iconic geek without asthma…which of course, made me even more of an outcast.

      Granted, I like to think that my “not having the black lung” really made an impact on society.

  18. Wow. As another woman who will probably never procreate, thank you so much for this advice. Especially for making it free! I will immediately put it into practice, and encourage all mommies I know to do the same… and if they aren’t ready for such forward thinking, I’ll do it for them when forced to hang out with their kids.

  19. elizabeth3hersh says:

    This is all straight-up excellent advice B, but I take issue with number 7. Believe me, nothing is a better behavioral deterrent than the prospect of embarrassing your kids. Only by threatening to tie a doo-rag on my head and flash gang signs to my teenage daughter while dropping her off at high school in full view of her friends (rap blasting at full blast) did I get the desired results at home.

  20. This was amazing. If I happen to find myself raising a child against my will (as this is the only way this is going to happen), I will certainly refer back to this list!

    And I feel like I need to say “I love how your fingers never leave your hands” to someone at work tomorrow. See how that goes.
    (they are often a bunch of children anyway. . .)

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