Thursday, May 24, 2007

Parenting advice

Last night, I joined the open thread at Mamapop for the finale of American Idol. If you like chatting with hilarious people in your computer while you watch reality television, I highly recommend this. (And just because American Idol is over doesn't mean you're out of luck; a new open thread for "So You Think You Can Dance" is beginning in mere hours.)

The conversation often moves away from the onscreen action (especially when the onscreen action is boring and full of filler, and YES I'm talking to you American Idol!), and last night was no exception. I mentioned my son's repeat of his mohawk (hooray!) and that we purchased some blue hair dye (waving to's supposed to last 6 you'll probably only see it in pictures) yesterday in honor of the last day of school.

And Tracey asked me for parenting tips so her kid would turn out as cool as mine.

I realize that this was not a request for parenting advice. It was a cute comment, possibly inspired by the wine the camaraderie we were enjoying. But, because I tend to take everything too seriously, I thought I'd go ahead and jump at the bait.

My tips for how to raise a cool kid

1. Be honest, but age-appropriate, when they ask a question.

2. Laugh together. As much as possible.

3. Watch kids' television together.

4. Watch grownup television together.

5. Make sure the music they hear is music you want to hear. Kids love love love punk rock if you play it for them. Encourage moshing.

6. Don't fight battles that aren't worth it. She wants to wear her plastic barbie high heels to the grocery store? Great! They'll hurt her feet enough that she'll never wear them again, and you've just totally won the war. Without even doing anything. You can even look like the best parent ever if you have a backup pair of shoes in your bag. If you're extra lucky, she'll throw the stupid plastic shoes in the garbage before you even get to your car.

7. Play on the floor with them. Even when they're big enough that you don't have to. Tickle wars are particularly awesome.

8. Music lessons. Start as soon as you can. I'm not trying to program my children to be professional musicians (DOCTORS! LAWYERS! NOT musicians!) but early exposure to music helps their brains develop in all kinds of ways. And music is something that is self-reinforcing. There are many small victories and masteries in music, whether piano, guitar, or violin (or anything else, for that matter). Each chord, each song, that the child learns results in greater confidence. I'm a big fan of confident kids.

9. Encourage that wacky thing that makes your child unique. Alex makes up funny dances all the time. And we love it. We video them when he lets us. Susie had a flair for putting together outfits at an early age. And we encouraged her to dress herself and didn't edit the outfits (except a few times, like school pictures).

which leads to...

10. If your kid wants a mohawk, go for it. I assure you, a seven- or eight-year-old child who wants that haircut is a kid with confidence. If your kid wants purple hair, go for it. It's actually very pretty. And, gulp, if they both want blue, awesome! The people who stare at them in the grocery store? Are just jealous.

So there it is. I don't know that it's a formula for how to get a kid who wants a blue mohawk at age 8. Thanks for asking, Tracey.


slouching mom said...

Man, you're famous. If you've got sweetney asking you for advice, you have made it, baby!


alan said...

yeah, I may have blue hair when you visit :D

Noodle said...

You're right about the punk rock. My little Sass used to sing "Mary Had A Little Lamb" punk style. It was a riot! :)

Sweetney said...

awesome and true and true and awesome. thank you. again. seriously.