10 More Things I Learned in My First 10 Years of Parenting
By Bryan Caplan
After I finished my last post, parenting life lessons kept coming to mind. Ten more:
1. You cannot be a bad spouse and a good parent.
2. Do not let your kids ignore you. If your words call for a response, immediately make your question more and more blatant until you receive a response.
3. Do not give your kids a good reason to ignore you by being a repetitive windbag.
4. Do not change your parenting decisions in response to your kids’ complaining, repeated requests, or other rent-seeking. Caplan family motto: “Complaining gets you nowhere in this family.”
5. If you lack the willpower to resist your kids’ rent-seeking on an issue, magnanimously give them what they would have extracted from you under duress. You won’t get your way, but at least you won’t blatantly reinforce their bad behavior.
6. At minimum, behavioral economics accurately describes children’s behavior: myopia, the endowment effect, availability bias, the works.
8. “To have kids” or “Not to have kids” are the fundamental lifestyle options. Once you have your first child, the marginal cost of another child is small. By the age of two, a pair of twins is often easier than a singleton.
9. T.V. is your friend – and if you think T.V. rots the brain, you aren’t searching hard enough for good shows. The Simpsons is at least as good as Shakespeare.
10. Reduce the ambition of your family vacations until you have zero desire to scream at your kids or your spouse. The memory of one bad parental fight can easily overwrite a child’s memory of an otherwise magical week.
Bonus lesson: “I’m your parent, not your friend” should mean “I’ll treat you better than any friend ever will” – not “I’ll treat you worse than any friend will ever dare.”
To close on a sad note: Show zero tolerance for irresponsible driving, and don’t worry about being “fair” when you confiscate car keys. Driving is the most dangerous activity young people in our society engage in, the accident rate is highly responsive to choice, and the real world often refuses to give a high-risk driver a second chance.