I feel there are endless topics of anecdotal parental advice I could weigh in on. Especially from the perspective of a new stay at home father. You know, the important stuff you need definitive answers on when you're a new parent -- the things I have an accumulated 35 months of learned expert knowledge. But instead of debating television and the toddler, or the morality of swearing, or even my various pee in the trees techniques for girls, I decided to cut right to chase and give you the only information you really need.
If I told you I knew the secret to raising the perfect child, would you believe me? Probably not, and to be perfectly honest my wife and mother of my only child didn't believe me either. In fact we're both kind of, let's say, at opposite ends of the spectrum on this issue. I've managed to work out through careful deliberation the only thing you have to worry about is whether or not you're raising a cool kid.
I remember specifically when I had this epiphany. The moment my wife looked at me while I dressed our daughter. It wasn't so much what I was dressing her in, or the fact I was trying to tie it into what we were listening to, or even the somewhat important conversation I was having with my two-year-old daughter about what book we should pack for our daily adventure. It all conflated into a quick "I want her to be the cool kid".
My wife's look of confusion which slowly morphed into one of disdain (a pretty common occurrence in our household), followed quickly by a "Huh? That is the shallowest thing you've ever said" -- actually I think she said "stupidest thing" but she lovingly says that a lot, so for dramatic effect in my mind I changed it to reinforce this eureka moment I had.
Before I explain to you why insuring your child is cool is the only thing you need to worry about as a parent, I need to explain how one little thing my mom said to me growing up was wrong, and how it changed me for the better. Not that I was overwhelming vain growing up, but along with the "crust will put hair on chest" and "milk makes your bones stronger" common parental advice my mom would regale me with, I vividly remember her constantly saying "life's not a fashion show." The word "life" being easily interchangeable with any activity I was into at the time. I'm not sure why she always said that, but I think it had less to do with what I was wearing and more with speeding up the process of getting me and brothers out of the house. In any case, she was wrong. Life is a fashion show. Not what you're wearing, but how you're wearing it. It's your foundation for establishing being cool. And the first thing me and my daughter do in the morning together.
While I think most parents, if not all parents want the best for their kids, most parents also secretly want their kids to be the best too. Who wouldn't want to be proud to have the smartest kid in the class, or the fastest kid on the team, or the kid who has the best voice in the school choir, or the most creative kid in the art class? I'm sure I would be immensely proud, but 35 months in, I've resolved myself to not caring about those things. Sure she's a couple years into walking, and less than that talking and can't carry a tune or let alone paint a stick-man, but if she never excels beyond everyone else at anything, rest assured I'm not going lose any sleep, because she'll be the cool kid.
Now I'm not saying kids that excel at sports, or academics or the arts aren't cool, I'm sure plenty are, but that's just it, they don't need to measure themselves against others, because they are the measurement, they're cool. In fact there is no anxiety about being cool when you are cool, because you are cool, that's it. Those who claim you can be more or less cool aren't, and those who don't care are.
Now those of you who went through school and life spurned by those you thought were cool, I'm sorry. In fact I'm sorry you thought they were the cool ones, cause they weren't, they were probably having as difficult a time coping with life as you were. This is not some apologetic bully psychology and not demeaning what some kids went through and probably what tons of kids are going through right now. But here is the key: raise your kid to be cool. They'll navigate social relationships with ease, they'll relate with their peers in ways that make bullying inconsequential. They'll realize there is no measure of coolness but themselves, and will only seek out personal gratification in doing what they love, what interests them and what they see as cool.
My only worry is when my daughter realizes how tragically uncool I am in thinking this whole thing through before she even turned three. I guess my only saving grace is the 15 years left to retool this secret before she's no longer legally a kid.
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