I was recently asked if I had any advice for incoming ninth grade parents, and that got me thinking about parenting advice in general. I know, trick question. You should never give unsolicited parenting advice.  Let me repeat that: Never give unsolicited parenting advice! Absolutely no one will thank you. I do, however, have some things I have learned over the past eighteen years, and thought I would share them more as “life lessons” than unsolicited parenting advice. You decide.

  1. Never say never, be it about the use of make-up at thirteen, curfew times or babies never pooping in a pool (story for another time). This stuff always comes back to bite you.

  2. You will spoil your kids–that’s why you had them in the first place, right?

  3. Which brings me to . . . just because he can talk, walk and use a toilet by his first birthday does not mean that he will be a genius later in life. So enjoy the little wins, and brag loudly. By the time he is 15, no one cares that he could hit the cheerio in the toilet at 18 months.

  4. You pay for that phone/iPad, so there is no such thing as a “right to privacy” or “right to use.” If your kids don’t want you looking at their devices, then they should pay for their own darn equipment.

    turn off wifi
  5. Don’t kid yourself–if you swear like a sailor, so will your kids. See lesson 6.

  6. And once they can drive, they will drive just like you. See lesson 5. Don’t make that amazed face at me! I don’t judge.

  7. Early on in life, train them to wear seat belts, lock the door when they walk in the house and use “please” and “thank you.” This should be applied to anything that is seriously important to you. Waiting until they’re “old enough” does not work.

  8. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that your child will inherit your beliefs, be it politics or religion. You can but try. In the meantime start practicing your own eye roll.

  9. Between iPads in school and games on anything that plugs in to a socket, there is still no definitive answer as to how much is too much screen time. Stop beating yourself up, eat a meal with your kids on a regular basis and, if need be, see lesson 4. We can but try.

  10. Don’t waste time feeling guilty. Yes, I know it’s like spitting in the wind, however, most kids turn out just fine. Feel free to dislike them periodically, though. No one really likes family all the time.

  11. Finally–and this one is probably the most important–if you want to keep your friends and family happy, never give parenting advice, solicited or otherwise. It rarely ends well. There is more than one way to skin a cat, so to speak. All we, as parents, really want to hear is that it should be okay in the end.  You can give them that, right?