I was honored to be published in Happy Woman Magazine, a parody of the loads of garbage magazines published for women:
Besides the nanny, their peers, and the subversive influence of the media, no one will have as significant of a role in your child’s development as you. It is important to face the task of parenting with a fervor akin to that which you possess in the hostile takeover of a corporation and the level of discernment and research you put into choosing a plastic surgeon.
Due to the obnoxious nature of children in general, having to take the time to acknowledge your child’s seemingly ubiquitous presence will be one of your most challenging inner battles. With the success you have achieved in your life to this point, however, you are no doubt familiar with the sense of accomplishment that comes with setting a goal and reaching it. Imagine your joy when you can put a big check mark beside “Quality Time with Offspring” on your to-do list.
Long after your body is cryogenically frozen, your children will still be here, ruling the world from the same throne that is currently occupied by your surgically-sculpted bottom. As frightening as this may be, it is your job to mold your children and train them to be worthy of the money they will one day inherit. The following five points will ensure that your children turn out to be as prepared as the author’s, whose names are Maximillian and Margaret-Katherine, if memory serves.
1 — Teach your children to be thankful for all they have.
Those in the blue collar class have a habit of encouraging this quality in their offspring. Little Bobby Joe doesn’t like his peas, so his father says, “Son, there are millions of people starving in Africa.” Obviously, you will not be able to use this time-tested, guilt-inducing strategy since your daily caloric intake pales in comparison to that of the poor Africans’. (Who cares about FDA guidelines when you want to look fabulously-thin in your designer jeans?)
Indeed, teaching privileged children thankfulness requires nothing more than your Bentley and a free hour. Drive through the impoverished sections of your town, calling to your child’s attention the complete absence of nannies, maids, and butlers. Point out the casual clothing the poor children are wearing as compared to the boarding school uniforms your own children are fortunate enough to don. Note the cars of the teenagers in the area. Likely, there is not a car over $75K in sight. Your children will realize the myriad of reasons they have to be grateful — the main one being, simply, they are better than everyone else — a burden they need to carry with humility and, yes, thankfulness.
2 — Teach your children the importance of a good education.
This is a short but important lesson. When their feet pitter-patter into the classroom on their first day of pre-school, they will be greeted by a dozen or so strangers and one shocking surprise: your parting words of instruction to the driver and your quick wave goodbye will be the last they hear or see of you until their boarding school’s winter break. The lesson will be indelibly imprinted upon their tiny, four year-old hearts and minds that a good education is more important than even a relationship with Father and Mother.
3 — Children imitate what they see; always be a good example.
If they see you being friendly to your staff, easy to please, and generally happy, what kind of bilge are you teaching them? They must understand the vigilance required to maintain a wide gap between the classes as this task will fall squarely upon their shoulders one day. For the good of mankind and the natural order to be preserved, they must strive to perpetuate an emotional distance from anyone not their financial and social equal. They must set the standards of taste by being impossible to please. When your stringent requirements have been met or even surpassed, there may be rare occasions when you just can’t find anything else worthy of complaint. Remember, your children will be watching. It is imperative that you maintain a dissatisfied countenance, even if you have nothing more to say.
4 — Teach your children they are always free to come to you with any concerns they have.
An attentive ear, an open heart, and a pair of embracing arms are all that children need to feel loved and accepted. Therefore, it is of vital importance that they commit to memory your personal assistant’s cell phone and pager numbers. Your assistant can then set up an appointment with your children at your earliest convenience, if you feel up to it and/or interested.
5 — Teach your children the value of hard work.
Children of privilege quickly get accustomed to being served, which is wonderful and needed . . . as long as it’s not too early in life. They need to see how Father and Mother make their millions — namely, off the backs of underpaid laborers. The author’s son took several nasty falls down the stairs while learning this lesson. The author was subsequently criticized for being too enthusiastic about the “hard work” lesson, but she maintained that if a six year-old can make a vodka and tonic for Mother every day, he can certainly carry a few cases of wine down to the cellar.
In sum remember that tough love is usually the only love necessary. The philosopher Nietzsche eloquently stated, “Whatever does not destroy me makes me stronger,” and what better place to test his hypothesis than on your children? Armed with the previous advice and Nietzsche’s famous words, you now have every tool necessary to be a successful parent. Your precious treasures will bring you untold joys until your dying day . . . and then your children will inherit them. Parent well.