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I have two kids. They are closer to adults than babies these days. I'll let yu in on a secret, I don't know what I'm doing as a parent.

I've searched the internet for parenting advice. Listened to grandmas and pop-pops. I have read more than my share of books about parenting newborns, toddlers, and teenagers.

I've read books that tell you to love and support your precious gift from heaven with hugs and participation ribbons. I also read the books that instruct you to beat love into your bundle of joy with sticks plucked fresh from the tree in the yard.

There seems to still be a small, but loudmouthed, group of advice-givers that seem to take twisted joy in telling people to beat up their kids for any infraction.


I’ve noticed that the books, blogs, and grandparents tend to leave out a subtle but important detail about the rearing of offspring. No matter what you do you will screw up your kids.

That’s right. You are going to do, or not do, something that will mess up your kids. And as a bonus, you don’t know what it will be.

Real quick – I’m not talking about sick, crazy people who abuse and perpetrate evil on the vulnerable and defenseless. Or about trauma beyond anyone’s control. I am talking about the average person’s parenting experience (and this is kind of a comedy piece so let’s keep it light).

Now, for most of us, it will be the little things that give a person character. Events that build a personality and the worst are hashed out in therapy. It’s not a question of bad or good parenting. It's just how things work out sometimes.

But the possibilities eat at my brain. It's hard enough keeping them warm, fed, and dry. Now I got this stuff to obsess over.

Did I give child Number One too many hugs and make that kid too emotionally needy later in life?

The same number of hugs make child Number Two an emotionally balanced person who goes out into a world of emotionally unbalanced people and so they think they're screwed up because they are not screwed up.

Way to go, dad.

Are you always there for the kid? Always at the game? Driving every carpool?

Great! You just created a person that can’t function on their own. They never learned to do things for the love of doing them, only to please others. Way to go!

Ironic Rebellion always gets us.

We can dress the kids in hip outfits for 2nd-grade pictures. We can play the Beatles in the house and in the car. Build a Pixies playlist for them, and expose them to the history of classic cinema.

And they will repay you by worshiping Justin Bieber and loving the Pirates of the Caribean movies.

We can try to be ‘cool parents,' and make sure they don’t have any hang-ups, man. It’s going to be an open and cool house, but we'll call it the crib, where we talk the groovy youth lingo. We did good right? Right?

No! If We're lucky all we've done is create ironic rebellion.

I'll realize this while I'm at their wedding in a barn in the middle of nowhere where they're marrying into an old-fashioned, country family…man. I'm going to be miserable at the tastefully decorated reception that doesn’t smell at all like patchouli oil.


What will I do today that will create an anxiety freak-out when my son or daughter is in college? I don’t know, maybe it's because I didn’t do something. Or they misunderstood something.

Maybe he’ll only remember the bad vacation in 2008 when we had to leave him with grandma while he was sleeping so I could take his mother to the ER for emergency gall bladder surgery. He didn’t know where we went and why he was with grandma.

Maybe he'll hold onto a nugget of abandonment for two decades and it leads him into a dysfunctional relationship that ends badly. Then he resents me and fails college, and…. Okay, gotta knock that off or I’ll have to double my dosage.

I’m going to screw up something. I know it intellectually. I know all I can do is my best. I don't have control over all events everywhere and I can't see the future. But, how does one deal with that knowledge?

I guess I will just try my best. Love my kids, keep them safe, and help them get what they need to be happy. And hide all the cool stuff from them till they are 20.

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