Parenting Theory

Oh, yes you are.

Part of the problem with this country is that we believe our children are somehow special; they can go out and conquer the world!  Well, they can’t.  Oh, sure, there are exceptional people being spawned, but they are by definition uncommon.  The vast majority of children will grow up to lead boring, mediocre lives that merit not so much as a mention in the newspaper – let alone their own entry in Wikipedia.

But this needn’t be a source of discontent, fuel for an inferiority complex.  If children are brought up with a healthy self-regard and a proper conception of their place in this world we may begin to shake off the looming cultural armageddon.  If most of us embrace the mundanity at the height of the bell curve, we will have a solid foundation upon which to propel the truly excellent talents among us.

Here are some helpful theories to put into practice.

  1. Do not tell your child that they can be anything they want to be.  This is garbage.  Instead, tell your child that they can do what they ought.  Meeting obligations is crucial to responsible adulthood.
  2. In the same vein, stress to your child that following an implausible dream is madness.  If they have a high IQ, a mind for science and a solid work ethic, then a dream of becoming an astronaut is attainable.  If they are of average intelligence and prefer napping to mental exertion, then the preponderance of less lofty careers is available.  Shoot for the stars and the bullet will fall to earth; it will probably hurt someone too.
  3. Inconsistent discipline is the chink in your armor that all children can exploit.  You must coordinate all disciplinary responses with your spouse, or the child will play you against one another.  Make it clear that they don’t run your house.
  4. Incontinence is an unfortunate reality of infancy and early childhood.  At such time as you determine is right for getting them out of diapers, do not tolerate obstinacy.  Transitional underwear may help, or may prolong the child’s ineptitude.  You’ll know best whether your child is smart enough to avoid walking around smelling like human waste.
  5. Breast feed the child, but not once the child can handle food.  If you continue to breast feed after the child has teeth you will rot them. 
  6. Avoid dressing the child in clothes better suited to circus performers or designer dogs.  Splurge on Brooks Brothers – assuming your child evinces the slightest hint of future achievement you want to get them started on this early.

    I want to thank you for molding me into a worthwhile man.

  7. Compliment the child when it does something well, but don’t be afraid to tell them how they can improve if they fail.  They will likely be of middling ability in most things.  Temper your expectations.
  8. Men are “Sir.”  Women are “Ma’am.”  No exceptions.  Punish lapses in etiquette.  Explain to hippie-dippie morons who insist on being called by their first name that they may not have any respect for themselves, but you and your child certainly do.
  9. As the child grows older, it will become mobile and rambunctious.  Put it outside for large stretches.  When it gets hungry, it will come back.  You do not need to supervise too closely (or at all in most instances), but make sure they are not associating with children that are markedly less intelligent than they.  This will diminish their potential.  Harsh, but true.
  10. Your child may grow to resent you; this is a natural outgrowth of the implicit competition between you and it for dominance and money.  Never try to be friends.  You are their first and best example of authority.  Never relinquish it until they have proven themselves through their accomplishments. 

I should add that as with any theory, repeated experimentation is not simply desirable - it is necessary.  I would encourage you to have multiple children.  Segregate them and apply varying methods of parenting to each.  You will need at least one control child, one to bring up under conventional permissive means, and a final one for the above theory.  With any luck, you will only deal with complaints of unfairness from the control.

Best of luck, new parents!


  1. and then this guy said says:

    most children have a natural fetching instinct. With only a little bit of discipline, you can turn you child into an effective beer delivery and management system.

    [Neal replies: This is why it's essential to peer review these things! Forgot entirely to elucidate the one instance in which children can prove useful.]

  2. Your Brother Rob says:

    Having a good week, I see.

    [Neal replies: Every once in a while I get on to something. Most days it is the usual soul-crushing disappointment though.]

  3. christine dewing says:

    Ha, thanks for starting my day off with a laugh. I just adore the pictures you found. Interested to see how this works in actual practice.

    [Neal replies: It will require the full cooperation of grandparents, which may be the downfall.]

  4. WC says:

    I think the reason why parents tell their kids they can do whatever they want, because they, the parents, want to be able to do whatever they want. It crushes their sole being in a spot of mediocrity and they don’t want their kids to have that same since of crushing defeat. Now my mom was pretty good at explaining it to me. She said, “son, you can be a astronaut if you want to be, but its going to require you getting all A’s in school, getting a high score on your SAT/ACT, be a star athlete, get into a military school, graduate at the top of your class, be selected to become a pilot, finish at the top of your class in flight school, and then be able to suck up enough and lucky enough to be selected for NASA. And honestly, I don’t think you have enough effort in you to do that.” She also said, “Well if you want to swim in the Olympics, that means you are going to have to get up in the morning and swim and I know you aren’t willing to do that.”

    Also, parents want their kids to be better then mediocre (did I spell that right) so they have something to brag about. “Oh my Jimmy got all A’s” “Emma just got accepted by W&M” I think parents have kids because they get bored and need something to talk about and to do.

    “Shoot for the moon, cause even if you miss you will land among the stars” Well my response to that is well yeah, maybe, after traveling for a couple of million of miles. I mean space is big, really really big. So if you miss the moon you will probably die before you reach a star. And why do you want to reach a star? I mean a star is a burning ball of hot gas which means you will probably melt when you reach it. Or if you have heat shields, be stuck in the middle of it since it has high gravity.

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