Category: Parenting Tips

Jun 21

Wiggle Room


It’s a known fact that a 6 year old boy cannot sit still.  This is based on a highly scientific study involving one child that I know really well.  We’ll call this boy “my son” to protect his identity.  As I watched my son throughout this study I noticed that he did not respond well to direct requests for behavioral compliance, like sitting quietly at the dinner table.  And when engaged in play, my son would need his name yelled in order for him to stop what he was doing and pay attention. In this particular study, I noticed a heavy release of catecholamines into my body as my vocal volume per request increased. Allow me to restate this in laymen’s terms:  When my son doesn’t listen to me, it really pisses me off!

In order to not suffer through a long summer of agitation and frustration at the hands of my fidgety, non compliant, children, I have decided to change my approach.  Here’s what I’m doing: (more…)

Jun 1

Allowance For Children: The Stay At Homer Way


Giving the kid an allowance?  Really?  I gave him a home, I cook his food, I give him clothes, and now I gotta pay him for the privilege?  I guess that’s how it’s gonna go, because we’re doing it.  We are giving Noble an allowance now.  We figured it was time, because he has a grasp of money and it would be a great experience for him to know what it’s like to have to save up for important things like legos, or candy, or a down payment on an overpriced home mortgage. We talked about it a little on my Facebook page, but I figured I’d go into some more detail here, and we can discuss whether or not you think we’re doing the right thing over here.

Gayle and I went back and forth on the reasons why we were going to give him an allowance.  Would we have him get paid for a set amount of chores?  Or maybe we’d start out at a certain amount, and slowly take money away for behavior issues or if he’s neglecting his obligations.  In the end those seemed to go against the teaching tool of an allowance: to teach about money.  Using money as a weapon for discipline, while probably accurately depicts how “the real world” works, doesn’t work for us in our family.

Here’s how we are breaking down allowance for our children:

  1. Alistair doesn’t get an allowance – He’s 2. I’m not interested in watching one dollar bills get flushed down the toilet (literally).
  2. Noble will get $2 per week no matter what – Money, in this case, isn’t seen as a reward/punishment thing.  It’s about pieces of paper that have the power to purchase things.  Allowance is about learning.  If we were teaching Noble all about how to shoot a gun, but we didn’t give him any bullets, the lesson wouldn’t work as well.  That was an awful analogy, but  you got what I was saying…right?  No, I don’t want my son Yosemite Sam-ing. No, I’m not going to teach him how to shoot a gun!  I was just, I’m trying to explain, oh forget it.  Damn I wish I had a backspace button or the ability to highlight portions of text and then CUT it out and delete it.  I wish Apple would figure that out already.
  3. The allowance will be divided into 3 parts – We are teaching him about saving, about spending, and about charity.  So with every $2 he gets, $1 will automatically go to savings. In Noble’s case, it is the Death Star Fund: He really wants the Lego Death Star.  It’s ONLY $400! Unfortunately for Noble, he has these parents…me….and Gayle….who will NEVER buy him a $400 present that you assemble once, break apart, and then keep in a storage container for the rest of your life.  So $1 of HIS money goes to that.  Then $.50 will go to charity. It will be saved up until the end of the year when we are deciding what charities to donate to.  Noble will get to pick something that he feels passionately about.  Right now, it will probably be a donation to the charity “Children Without Lego Death Stars.”  And finally, the last $.50 goes right into Noble’s pocket where he is free to lose it wherever he sets it down.  He can also enjoy the evil mental game that money plays on a person….”should I buy that gumball now?  Or should I wait until next week and buy an even bigger gumball?  Or should I wait even longer still and buy a small toy?  Or maybe I could….Dad!  Dad!  Did you see where I put my allowance money?” *tears*
  4. Chores - He will not be getting paid for chores.  It is his privilege to do chores around the house to be a part of the team.  We allow him to live in our house for free.  And I have yet to charge him for food or clothing.  So he can set the table and keep his room clean, pro bono.
  5. But he CAN get extra money for extra work – Even though he has chores to do, there will also be times when I will offer to give him money in return for some extra labor.  I don’t think this is a bad thing.  I will probably pretend that I’m a boss hiring him for some work, and I’ll print out a really neat kid friendly job application, where I’ll get his SS# and other important information.  Then when he’s done with the work, I’ll introduce him to “Payroll” and how most of his money is going to go to taxes that don’t make any sense.  And just when he’s confused and angry about getting less than the original agreed on price, I’m going to declare “AUDIT!” And that’s when the new game of “Attack of the IRS MAN” will begin. It’s all about the real world, right?  He’s gonna have to learn it at some point.
Allowance picture

Money hasn't changed me a bit. Now who wants to get a gumball? My treat!

What age did you start your kids on an allowance?  What are your parameters for how they earn the money?  Do you make your kids chop all your firewood for you, for sweat shop labor prices?  There’s no judgy judgy in here, so feel free to express yo-self!

May 17

7 Happy Father’s Day Tips


It’s almost MY TURN!  Woo-hoo!  The time is approaching to celebrate the father! And because I know my wife reads my blog, I am going to use this as an opportunity to secretly suggest what I want…and I’ll cover it in the blanket of “What ALL dads want for Father’s Day.” Hopefully she’ll gloss over the first paragraph, though, cuz I might have said too much there. (more…)

Jan 6

Don’t Yell Around Your Kids!

Yes, even we, the perfect loving family get into huge arguments.  In fact, they call me "Dr. Angry"  She's "Screw Loose" and those are my kids "Drama Drama" and "SmackYo Face"


They just might see what it’s like being a real adult in the real world. We need to shelter them from the realities of human conflict so that when they grow up, and someone yells around them, they can spiral into a confusion coma because they have no idea why someone doesn’t love someone else, unconditionally, all the time….no matter what….even if they screw up…..

Come on! Seriously, though. Come on! (more…)

Nov 17

Key Translations For Your Child


Children are remarkable.  These little creatures learn to speak our language from our daily communication with them, and then, they take the wonderous joy of it all and turn it on us, thinking they can use their great use of our language to trick us!  Not today, not anymore.  I’m gonna help.

I feel it is my duty to translate a few of these manipulative uses of language in the hopes to save you, the parent, from falling for the sneakiness of your child. (more…)

Apr 14

The Bulging Eyes

There is a parenting technique that has been passed down from generation to generation in my family.  It is called “The Bulging Eyes.”

There comes a time when the advice from the parenting books just isn’t cutting it; a time when being “nice about it” just ain’t working; a time when repeating yourself one more time will cause your head to explode from the seething anger volcano that you’ve been trying to keep dormant.  At that moment, The Bulging Eyes can save the day.

Speaking from experience, I used this technique yesterday.  Noble and his buddy Will were toward the end of their playdate at our house.  His mom was gonna pick him up in 30 minutes.  Usually as the playdate nears the end, the kids seemingly sneak off to do cocaine or drink a couple red bulls or something because their energy kicks up 10 notches.  This happened about the same time I put Alistair down for his nap.  Now we don’t live in a 10 bedroom mansion, so when I say Alistair is down for his nap, I mean that Alistair is 15-30 feet away from us at any given time.  So my general rule is that when Alistair is asleep, please feel free to have as much fun as you want…..just shut the hell up.

Apparently 3-4 year olds have a hard time keeping this information at the forefront.  I can literally see the information enter their ear and then float out the other ear as if it were a vapor.

“Guys, keep it down, Alistair is asleep.”

“Oh, ok”, and then they quietly walk 5 steps before Noble roars at Will, Will shrieks, and they run giggling into the room.  Chaos ensues.

I just told them to be quiet!  I said it nicely!

I repeated this pattern of telling them in a nice, by the book, fashion to be quiet.  I tried, “Guys I need you to listen to my words.” and “Alistair is asleep guys, guys.  GUYS!  Hey, look at me please!  Guys.  Guys.  Put your toys down, and listen up!”  None of it was working.  So on the fourth attempt, when they went running across the house screaming because one of them was a yeti and the other was apparently the yeti’s lunch, I decided to pull out the big guns: The Bulging Eyes

In the loudest whisper I could muster, which I can only imagine how silly it looks to be irate and whispering, I told them to get their butts into Noble’s room.  “NOW!”  Once inside, I bulged my eyes as wide as they could go.  I tried to get my eyelids to touch my brain, that’s how far back I was pushing them.  Like a superhero who finally learned his superpower, I connected my bulging eyes to the children and, judging by the looks on their faces, my eyes were sucking their souls from their body.  They were scared.

All I said was, “Be quiet or there will be consequences.” I think it had something to do with the power of my eyeballs.  Maybe it’s a power like Michael J. Fox had in Teen Wolf, when his eyes turned red at the convenience store. I’m not sure.  But I can tell you this: it worked.  They immediately became quiet, and when I walked out of the room, they started playing a different game, but they did it quietly.  All thanks to The Bulging Eyes.

Later on that night Noble told me he doesn’t like it when I’m angry and yell.  And in my heart, the place where love for my child pours like Niagra Falls, I thought, good. “I don’t like it either, bud. So next time remember to listen the first time, ok?” (I say first time because I’m a dreamer.  Really, if he listened the second time, I’d be totally cool with it, too.)

I'd be scared, too, if this face came at me. Check out those deep cups!

Apr 4

The Foot Toss Technique

The Foot Toss is an advanced move that parents with multiple kids utilize quite often.

In our house, the baby shares a room with Noble.  His room tends to look like somebody dropped a toy grenade right in the center.  Ideally, Noble picks up his room before bed, and the floor is free of random toys. (Or as I call them, ankle breakers, or “goddamn toys.”)  Ideally.  Ideally is also another word for rarely.

The Foot Toss Technique is used when the floor of the kids’ room is littered with toys.  Utilize when you are putting your baby down for bed.  As you pace around the room, rocking the baby, use your feet to kick those goddamn toys to any open area against a wall.  You are just looking to clear a path from the door to the crib.  Be as thorough as possible, as you will most likely be doing this technique in a dark room.  Matchbox cars, little army men, and small wooden blocks cause the most pain, so use a sweeping motion with your foot to check your work!  Congratulations, you used The Foot Toss!

Hopefully your baby goes down nicely, and in the middle of the night, when he’s made a poop in his diaper and you are scrambling to clean it up, you will be able to do so without breaking your ankle on a “goddamn toy.”