Guest Blog: Tips for Parents from a Teacher by Bolton Carley

photo by Bolton Carley

photo by Bolton Carley

Dear Parents who don’t want to be hated by Teachers, Coaches, Fellow Grocery Shoppers, or Future Employers,

You have a tough job.  You have to raise a child or children in a terrible economy with news of shootings and drug dealing every day.  So no, no one expects you to be superhuman or anti-TV or video games and churning your own butter.

But I’ll let you in on a little secret:  we know if you’re a good parent or not.

That said, we would appreciate if you could follow through on a few simple things.  I dare say that you might even have a pretty fantastic child someday if you do.

1 – Read to your kids when they’re little.  Every night.  At the exact same time.  We’re talking Seuss not Shakespeare.  I know you can read it.  I also know that children who are read to have higher academic stats later in life, and think of all those social lessons the Berenstain Bears and David put out.  And when they’re old enough to read on their own, send them to bed and make sure they have a bookshelf or the Judy Jetson-esque Kindle (but no internet allowed).  Once a habit, it will keep happening.

2 – Bedrooms are for sleeping, not watching TV, playing video games, sneaking onto the internet, or texting the new bf/gf at any age and don’t let them fool you about “just listening to music” on their iPods.  Make your kids turn in all their electronics to you at a set time.  Keep them in your room.  If you don’t want to deal with bitchy teenagers now or in a few years, it’s a good place to start.

3 – Get them in a few activities, preferably ones that involve some community service along the way.  No, I did not say 300 activities.  I said introduce them to a few things – cards, band, dance (only if you want to torture your family members with recitals), t-ball, swim lessons, 4-H, Sunday School, or karate if you want to, but not all of them and not 24/7.  A well-rounded child becomes a successful adult.

4 – Please help them learn the value of family, money, and education.  I understand that you want to give your kids everything you didn’t have, but you can’t.  You shouldn’t!  They need to learn to earn things.  For every one thing you say yes to, there should be at least four other things you said no to, or make them do chores to earn it.  And please don’t let your sucky attitude rub off on them.  Yes, maybe you did hate math, but guess what?  You use it every day, and so will your kid.  You can be empathetic, but you can’t make excuses.

5 – For the love of humanity and all of us normal people still in the world, don’t make excuses for your child!  There have to be consequences.  If a teacher calls to tell you that your child did something wrong, it clearly happened.  Why?  Because calling parents is like going to the dentist, you only do it if you have to.  No teacher sets out to make some kid miserable.   And even if you think the coach or teacher does have something against your child, don’t ever say it!  It’s called encouragement.  Say, “You know what, Jimmy?  It looks like we maybe need to spend some more time practicing that at home.”  And then actually have your child practice.

6 – And while you’re practicing, here are a few other basic skills your kid needs to know so they don’t look like a complete ignorant in later life:

  1. Manners – saying please and thank you go a long way in this world

  2. How to tie their shoes.  It is not socially acceptable to wear Velcro forever.

  3. Addition, subtraction, and times tables – all of them by rote memorization (quiz them in the car on the way to football practice if you have to, but don’t let it go by the wayside)

  4. How to count money.  Have them count out the dollar bills and change for their own Happy Meal.  Seriously.

7 – Speaking of which, eat with your kids.  Even if you’re all in the minivan shoveling in PB&J on the way to a soccer game, it still counts if you talk and eat together.

8 – Talk to your kid!  Every single day.  Do not just ask yes/no questions.  Force conversation.  Dance embarrassingly around them if you have to.  Teach them how to make supper step-by-step while you make it.  Sing old songs with them on the deck.  Ask who’s running for prom queen.  If you’ve talked enough, your child whether five, 15, or 25 years old, should be haunted by your voice in their heads.  I mean it.  Even if you aren’t there, they should hear your voice saying, “You know you’ll lose your scholarship if you’re caught.”  “We have to share our toys.”  “Nice guys say they’re sorry not shit happens.”

9 – Look at your child or children.   It sounds stupid, but it’s not.  Look at the expressions on their face.  Look to make sure they’re not wearing whore make-up.  Look at their clothes to make sure they aren’t wearing a “turd bucket” t-shirt to school.  Look at their hair and the amount of piercings as they get older.  If the hair is pink or there’s more than two piercings, they are screaming for attention or they are about to rebel over whatever you did to screw up their lives.  Take note and fix it.  FAST!  And if you don’t know how, ask a teacher, ask a family friend, ask a coach, but don’t give up.  Then we’ll know why they are the way they are.

10 – Above all else, be your child’s parent, not their friend.  Guess what?  There will be days they hate you.  There will be days they curse your name.  There will be days they want to live with anybody else.  But guess what?  If that happens, you’re doing it right!  Because even if they hate you on any given day, they will respect you for caring about their well-being.  Tell them it’s a game of Would You Rather?  And you would rather have them hate you than them die in a car crash on the way to a concert with a friend’s brother who is notorious for getting high.  End of story.  I promise you they won’t forget you said that or that you loved them enough to parent them.  And someday they will be proud to be your child and you will be proud to call them your son or daughter.  Guaranteed.

And if you are failing miserably on all these fronts and think there’s no possible way to do all these things, I highly suggest you start bribing your child’s teachers with Starbucks gift cards.  ASAP!

Seriously though, thank you for caring enough to read this in an attempt to be that parent…  The good one.  Best of luck to you.


Bolton Carley wrote this guest blog for Liv, Laugh, Love. She maintains her own blog, boltoncarley’s blog, full of snarky hilarity for adults.

16 comments for “Guest Blog: Tips for Parents from a Teacher by Bolton Carley

  1. Sara
    August 6, 2013 at 6:34 pm

    Loved this!!! I’ve always said that I want to raise my boys to be capable, independent men… and this is what it takes to ensure that happens! Thanks for sharing!

  2. August 6, 2013 at 6:44 pm

    Such a wonderful article! Even though mines only 15 months and the only thing we can do on your list is read to him and eat together, it’s good for the future! Thanks so much for sharing!!
    Desiree recently posted…Happy Birthday HubbyMy Profile

  3. August 6, 2013 at 7:12 pm

    We work hard on all of these things, every day, day after day 🙂 It is a great list. But even so, my kiddo has challenges that most do not have, so I have to work VERY closely with his school and teachers. Even then, if I feel there is a problem, I would never tell that to my son. I would meet with the teacher or principal separately and voice my concerns. I think we have to provide a united front with him, but of course I will always be his number one advocate if something is wrong. I’m sure you see and hear all kinds of things as a teacher, and you have a job with such responsibility! Thanks for sharing.
    Stephanie @ From the Burbs to the Boonies recently posted…It’s official: I’m licensed to huntMy Profile

  4. August 7, 2013 at 12:49 am

    Perfect post! I love it! Luckily, I already do almost all of these things 🙂
    becca recently posted…Beginners Guide to MailChimpMy Profile

  5. Jen
    August 7, 2013 at 2:38 am

    I am so glad you did this, and I couldn’t agree more! Especially that calling a parent about something bad a kid did is like going to the dentist. Ugh.

  6. Mischa
    August 7, 2013 at 3:44 am

    Great blog!

    • Jen
      August 8, 2013 at 1:57 am

      Bolton rocks! (But you know that!) 😉

  7. August 7, 2013 at 12:03 pm

    No prob, Jen. I’m passionate about the subject as you well know. I think sometimes we work so hard at our jobs and make it look so easy that people forget how hard it is and point out the negatives instead of the positives of what we are doing. At least, that’s what I’d like to believe. 🙂
    bolton carley recently posted…l. #174: cheating, summer, guilty pleasures, and a smoothie’s fruit i swear!My Profile

  8. August 7, 2013 at 12:09 pm

    This is great! I’m pretty good with most of these. I’m bad about letting them watch TV to fall asleep, though.
    I’m sorry, Bolton. I’ll try to be a better mommy. 🙁

  9. August 16, 2014 at 3:44 pm

    This is SUCH a great post! Love the suggestions! I always need the reminder that if my kids not always like me, that I am doing a good job!
    Gretchen Garrison recently posted…Nebraska Land & Sky DVD Giveaway is Ending SoonMy Profile

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