Archive for parenting
Note: Aliska Webb was an ebook publishing pioneer. In 1999 her startup company, bookmice.com, published one of the very first e-books, a collection of short stories and essays about parenting.
I contributed this essay; I believe it is as relevant today as it was then.
THE TEN CARDINAL RULES OF BAD PARENTING
(With helpful commentaries)
The goal of bad parenting is an unhappy emotionally disturbed child. It would not be unreasonable to hope that assiduous training would produce a wildly sociopathic child.
Discipline and training will give you the skills you need to practice the art of bad parenting.
When your son first wakes up in the morning, when he gets dressed and asks where his clothes are, when he brushes his teeth, when he eats breakfast and when he prepares to leave the house for school all furnish you with good opportunities to practice your bad parenting skills.
Give yourself a good bad parenting morning workout by taking advantage of these inexhaustible opportunities.
The evenings present their own limitless opportunities to practice bad parenting. Some of you might think that two workouts per day are excessive.
But bear in mind that you will be spending time with your children anyhow, and it takes no more time and effort to be a bad parent than it does to be a good parent.
RULE 1. Ignore your children:
Comments: Start when the child is still an infant. The best way to ignore an infant is to close the door.
If you can still hear your child cry, buy some earplugs.
With practice you will be able to read a tabloid without earplugs even when your child is screaming for attention while lying at your feet.
Do not succumb to the human instinct to pick up and cuddle and sooth your child.
Keep your eye on what’s important—becoming the world’s worst parent.
It’s only hard to resist at the early stages.
You’ll know that you are well on your way to becoming a bad parent when the urge to cuddle and sooth is gradually replaced by an urge to smack the child.
As your child gets older, practice using the mantra “Umm” to help focus your inattention.
Your daughter is telling you about the gold star she got at school, “Umm” her as you continue on with what ever you were doing.
Do not smile, do not make eye contact.
Do not even look sideways in the general direction of your child because she might perversely interpret your sideways glance as a spark of interest.
Showing interest in your child makes it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to become a bad parent.
When the child becomes a constant screamer, or withdraws, or becomes overly cranky or aggressive, you’ll know that you’re advancing towards bad parenthood.
RULE 2. Criticize your children:
Comments: Criticizing is easy, and opportunities abound.
It is impossible to overstate the importance of criticism in helping you become a bad parent.
Tell the child as soon as it wakes up in the morning that it has bad breath.
Say, “Whoee! Your breath stinks!”
Tell them the bedroom is a mess, worse then a pigsty.
After the child is dressed and groomed, find fault with the dress and grooming.
If the child looks perfect, tell her she took too long to get ready and now her breakfast is cold.
A really good bad parent can criticize non-stop from the time the child first opens its eyes in the morning until the child disappears down the street headed for school.
With time you’ll notice more and more things to criticize.
The child can be too skinny, too porky, too dumb, or too bright for its own good, and posture is bad.
The child can be irresponsible, not grown up or too grown up; it can be lazy or too hyper (what are you, on dope?).
If your son lacks your sense of humor tell him he’s dull.
If your daughter was not blessed with your good looks be sure to criticize her looks, large nose, small eyes, stringy hair and so on.
The list is endless, and that is what makes it so easy to criticize.
If you take advantage of all the golden opportunities to criticize you will move easily and quickly along the road of bad parenting.
Although it is easy to criticize, an urge to show exuberant satisfaction with some outstanding quality or accomplishment might occasionally pop up, especially at the early stages.
DO NOT GIVE IN TO THE URGE TO PRAISE!
You can undo weeks of bad parent exercises with just one well-deserved praise.
Look for signs of lowered self-esteem—a slouch, slovenly appearance, lethargy—to let you know that you’re on the right track.
RULE 3. Do not discuss; dictate to your children:
Comments: Bad parenting requires that you dictate to your children.
No matter how many times your children try to engage you in a conversation, avoid discussing anything with them.
Don’t engage them in meaningful conversation or explore the meandering path of authentic enquiry with them.
If you son asks “Why is the sky blue, mama?” head him off at the pass by responding with a voice dripping with condescension: “The sky isn’t blue” (make sure “dummy” is implied in the tone of voice) “everyone knows that it only looks that way.
Now, leave me alone, can’t you see I’m busy?”
Dedicated bad parents get exceptionally good at this.
By the time their child reaches puberty a glaring stare is enough to convey the message.
You can tell your efforts to become a bad parent are paying off when your child no longer can express himself.
When you try to engage your son in a conversation his face will harden with a smirk and he stares you down without uttering a sound, except possibly an expletive like “shit,”or, if you have trained exceptionally hard he might mouth the words “fuck you.”
To arrive at the point where the child audibly pronounces the words requires the highest level of bad parent training.
If you are willing to put in the effort, some day you will hear the words that will let you know you are approaching the highest level of bad parenting.
RULE 4. Vent your anger on your children:
Comments: After you become proficient at criticizing your children (See Rule Number Two) and you want to advance to a higher level of bad parenting, try coupling your criticism with bursts of venomous anger and observe how the anger greatly magnifies a little criticism.
Timing is important.
Practice until your criticism is mindlessly accompanied by a wild burst of anger every time.
Once you have your anger trained so it comes out automatically without your having to think, it is easy to ratchet up your bad parenting to the level of violence.
The combination of criticism, anger, and violence is a powerful vehicle that can propel you at jet-like speed along the path of bad parenting.
When a son comes home late from school rage and shout and slap him around.
If he wets the bed, yank him out of his sound sleep and shove him towards the toilet while shouting at the top of your lungs how stupid and baby-like his bed-wetting is.
Pull down his pajamas and give him a frenzied spanking.
A world class bad parent will also smack the son’s offending organ.
However, unless you intend to become a professional world class bad parent this extreme training is unnecessary.
Signs which let you know that you are making great progress are your son’s aggressive behavior towards his siblings and friends, torturing insects, birds and pets, sullen withdrawal of the child into his own world, always avoiding you, and your son’s friends unwilling to enter your home.
Less obvious signs are loss of appetite, undue meekness, lack of concentration and plummeting school grades.
RULE 5. Do not be moderate in confrontations with your children.
Comments: When done consistently and with ever increasing energy, overreaction during confrontations with your children is one of the surest ways to remain on the path of bad parenting.
The nice thing about overreaction is that it is so easy to do and yet produces such spectacular results.
When your daughter spills a glass of milk react as if you were witnessing a devastating train wreck caused by her.
Shout, scream, rant and rave.
Throwing something at your daughter will create a memorable event for her and greatly improve your bad parenting skills.
A subtle ancillary benefit is that overreaction places all of the child’s conduct from not washing her hands to killing the cat in the same category.
The child’s nervous system is constantly on a high state of alert and the child fails to develop any insights or understanding.
Your child’s escalating nervousness will let you know that you are moving along the path of bad parenting.
ONE SMALL CAVEAT: Everything has its limits—even immoderation.
While extreme physical abuse of your child resulting in its death might seem to qualify you for being the world’s worst parent, it in fact disqualifies you from ever becoming the worst parent.
It is self-defeating.
Do not attempt it.
If the child dies, you are no longer a parent in relation to that child and are disqualified from claiming to be a bad parent insofar as the deceased child is concerned.
RULE 6. Set bad examples for your children:
Comments: You can start being a bad parent even before the child is born.
As soon as you become pregnant, start smoking, use alcohol on a daily basis, and use whatever drugs you can get your hands on.
When you child is born, you will already be far down the road of bad parenting.
Your child will be underweight, irritable, impaired in most of its functions, and depending on the amount and duration of drug use, your child will be a drug addict at birth.
As soon as your child becomes aware of what’s going on around the house, bicker with your spouse in the child’s presence.
Almost all husbands and wives know how to bicker, so that part is easy.
Just be sure you do it in front of the children.
Bickering outside the presence of the children does very little to promote bad parenting. Your son or daughter becoming more and more whiney is a clear sign that your bickering in front of the child is working.
Racism, prejudice, ethnocentricity, and intolerance are powerful tools to improve bad parenting skills.
By being parents you are in a unique position to influence how your child develops.
Your child’s brain is constantly creating neural pathways and altering old ones in response to what the child hears, feels, sees and even to what it thinks.
Flood the child’s brain with degrading remarks about ethnic, religious, and social groups, and regions and countries.
You will know that you have acquired this powerful tool for bad parenting when you hear your child start using terms like “honky,” “nigger,” “kyke,” “beaner,” “faggot” “Jap,” “gook” and “keto.”
Determined bad parents, won’t overlook the opportunity to destroy their child’s ability to see a spider’s wondrous complexity, a snake’s lustrous beauty, a rodent’s resourcefulness and the love dogs, cats, horses, and other animals have for humans.
It is easy.
Simply scream and holler your head off each time you see a little critter.
If your child is observing a critter from a safe distance, yank him away as you holler “stay away from there” and tell him how much the tiny critters disgust you.
You will know that you have made progress in this area when you notice that your son responds to little critters by shutting his brain down with unreasoning fear and loathing.
CAVEAT: Do not expose your child to love, compassion, uplifting music, and authenticity.
It has been demonstrated in exhaustive studies that doing so can nullify bad parenting efforts far more than anything else can.
RULE 7. Be dishonest with your children:
Comments: If you cannot give up authenticity, you can never train enough to become a bad parent.
It is almost impossible for authenticity and bad parenting to coexist in the same household.
It is easy to become dishonest if you do it in small steps.
For example lie to your son about why you were late picking him up from school, (He doesn’t even know the game of bridge).
Lie to your daughter about trivial things so you can move up to more important things like lying about how the car got smashed.
Get your daughter involved by asking her to go along with the story.
If she is disinclined, let her know that you need her to lie so you can keep the insurance down.
Brag to your son about how much extra change you got and involve him by giving him the change to buy some candy.
Let your children know how clever you were when you bought your Nordstrom dress with the intention of returning it after you wore it to the party.
In hardly no time at all you will have etched dishonesty into your child’s brain until he or she can lie, cheat and steal smoothly and easily.
This is a sure sign that your are making splendid progress.
Keep up the good work.
RULE 8. Set unreasonable rules and enforce them:
Comments: This rule is the foundation of the most strenuous of all bad parenting workouts.
Setting unreasonable rules for your children may seem like a good effort at bad parenting but it has no lasting real effect unless you enforce them.
Enforcement of this rule leads to mentally and physically demanding effort on your part.
Prepare yourself for an onslaught of besieging confrontations, which never seem to end.
You’ll feel like the last remaining soldier of Custer’s last stand at Little Bighorn.
Each household has a different set of dynamics. You need to experiment to discover which one’s work best in your home.
In some homes, a rule requiring all children to remain in their rooms after sunset might be accepted by a child who is a loner, and loves to read, especially if you have been working on bad parenting by bickering with your spouse incessantly.
In other homes where the children are gregarious and outgoing you might encounter flaming, screaming opposition accompanied by violence, or at least the threat of violence.
So keep experimenting.
However don’t be satisfied with merely establishing an unreasonable rule.
Keep changing the rule. This leads to much turmoil. When your home is in turmoil you’ll know that your bad parenting exercises are working for you.
A variation of the “changing the rule exercise” is the “enforcement/relaxation technique.”
If the rule is “no watching television on school nights” relax the rule during the week.
Then when your daughter is enthralled by her favorite program on Friday night, turn off the set and remind her that it’s a school night.
She’ll of course rant and rave and tell you (actually she’ll holler at you) that tomorrow is Saturday and there is no school.
Holler back, “I don’t care, this is a school night and rules are rules.”
This exercise is guaranteed to greatly improve your bad parenting skills. A nice advantage of this technique is that it can be used with the computer just as effectively as with the television.
RULE 9. Do not respect your children:
Comments: Respect for children is inconsistent with bad parenting.
A lot of parents working on bad parenting skills fall into the trap of respecting their children.
This reduces the efficacy of bad parent training.
One easy way to disrespect your children is to eliminate “please,” “thank you,” and “excuse me” from your vocabulary insofar as your children are concerned.
Avoid saying “Would you please pass the salt.”
Say “gimme the salt.”
And of course never say “thanks” unless it’s appropriate to add “for nothing,” like “thanks for nothing, dummy”
If you accidentally bump into one of your children never ever say “excuse me.”
Saying, “excuse me” will increase their self-respect but decrease your bad parenting skills.
Ignore your daughter while she pours her heart out to you.
When a new book your son has just read excites him and he is trying to tell you how good it is, cut him off.
A good bad parenting technique for cutting off a child is to say, “I can’t understand a word your saying.”
You’re slurring your words and what your saying doesn’t make any sense.”
Faithfully following this rule of bad parenting is sure to deepen and widen the chasm that your bad parenting has opened between you and your children.
You’ll know your efforts under this rule are producing results when you notice hurt expressions on your children’s faces, a defeated slouch in their postures, and listless leaden steps.
RULE 10. Do not trust your children:
Comments: Nothing does more to improve relations between a parent and child and nothing is more inimical to bad parenting then genuine trust.
So avoid it at all costs.
The distrust must be manifested.
If the distrust is not manifested the child might naively assume that you trust her.
When cross-examining your daughter about where she was and what she did the previous night be explicit.
Say right out, “I don’t trust you little lady, and I am going to check up on what you tell me. So you better tell me the truth.”
And be sure to check up on what she tells you.
Call her friends and cross-examine them. Don’t worry about appearing to be like Captain Queeg; chances are your children are too young to have seen the Cain Mutiny.
Anyhow serious bad parenting devotees do not worry about what their children think.
INCREASING BENEFITS BY COMBINING RULES
Combining rules produce enormous synergistic effects provided it is done with a great deal of thought and skillful dedication.
Do not attempt the rule-combination technique until you have mastered the individual rules.
The following illustration should be enough to get you started on this advanced level of training.
Rule 6, setting a bad example, works superbly well with Rule 2, which deals with criticizing.
Set a bad example for your daughter with vulgar language.
When your daughter picks up this habit she will present you with a constant barrage of criticizable language.
If your daughter challenges you by pointing out that she is merely following your example, immediately practice Rule 5 and vent your anger while shouting, “Do as I say, not as I do.”
Rule combinations lead to the highest pinnacle of bad parenting.
The vista will reveal chaos swirling around your home and produce in your mind and heart the certainty that you have finally become the world’s worst parent.
REVERSING THE COURSE:
Bad parenting is not for everyone.
If after you have given bad parenting a fair trial and you discover that bad parenting is not for you, you can take effective steps to unwind the bad parenting process.
It is easier to unwind the bad parenting process then you might think.
Just look at the rules above and do their opposite. It’s that simple.
Do not ignore your children, do not criticize them; discuss things with your children and explore with them the meandering path that leads to truth.
Do not vent your anger on your children.
Be moderate, do not overreact but act as a loving guide to your children and be a good example for them.
Be honest with your children.
Respect them; trust them.
The most effective rule you can apply to reverse the bad parenting process is, “love your children unconditionally and accept them warts and all.”
In spite of what you might think, your children really are human, and humans are never perfect.
Raging at your children, beating them, insulting them and cowering, them will not make them perfect.
But as Dante pointed out six hundred years ago, love spares no one who is loved from loving.
Love transforms us and the one we love.
So if you discover that bad parenting is not your cup of tea, loving your children might be a good option.
It’s worth a try.
Send your comments to me, Neil Bezaire, at email@example.com. I would enjoy hearing from you. Attention will be paid.