The 14 Rules for Good Parenting

The 14 Rules for Good Parenting


When you become a parent, every other parent (and sometimes non-parent) has oodles of unsolicited advice for you. This is probably because some of the stuff worked for their kid, who is probably nothing like your kid.

If you’re a new parent, you’ll probably read/receive a lot of toddler parenting tips from third parties including how to feed them, how to exercise them, as well as how to get them to sleep. While many of these tidbits of advice can be useful, it’s not a one-size-fits-all approach that will win.

I learned early on that the easiest way to deal with this onslaught of “knowledge” about how to raise your infant/toddler is by politely nodding in agreement like you care, and then doing whatever works for you.

Beware though: you’ll probably be judged if you don’t follow all of the outdated advice from other parents, which can include:

• Kids should be seen and not heard

• You need to check on your baby five times a night

• Feed them what you want to eat, not what they want

• Formula is bad for babies


Judgment from others can (wrongly) influence your parenting approach

I was glared at on the bus a few times for my kid crying or making other sounds. A few times he threw a tantrum in public. At first I felt self-conscious about it, but expecting babies/young children to be quiet and perfectly behaved is not normal. Society’s advice seems to lean towards making the kid as docile and cooperative as possible. However, they also need space to express their young selves (within reason. If they’re pulling products off shelves at the grocery store, stop them.)

The truth is that raising a child is not like putting together a piece of IKEA furniture. The same set of instructions may work with one young human, but not necessarily for another. For example, some kids like to eat at different types of day, and their tastes can vary from one week to the next. Some of them like to nap, while others do not (sigh.) Some thrive in certain social situations, while others need a guiding hand.

There’s no instructional manual that will perfectly explain babies and kids. They can cover specific points — like feeding them daily, obviously — but for the most part, parenting is like trial by fire. You try one thing, it fails, and then you try another thing. And that thing may only work for a few days, and then you need to reevaluate your approach. It’s a moving target, not rules etched in stone.

Remember, children are humans, and therefore have unique habits and characteristics. Who better to observe this then a parent (you), who is around them several hours a day? That also means taking others’ remarks in stride, knowing that you know better.

I present to you how to be a “good parent”

My tongue is planted in my cheek over that headline. But I find instead of trying to follow specific advice — like “feed them exactly at 4 p.m. so they sleep easier!” — or something like that, a wider philosophy to parenting works better.

Here are my own thoughts on good parenting, in no particular order:

1. You do not have to dote on kids every second. Give them space to explore their surroundings, as long as they’re safe. Hand them a plastic spade and tell them to dig up dirt in the backyard or something.

2. Don’t get too frustrated or embarrassed when your child cries or acts out. Anyone judging also cried or acted out when they were younger. Do comfort them, though.

3. Put down your phone once in a while to communicate with your kids. (Encourage them to do the same.)

4. Teach your offspring basic kindness, like saying “please” and “thank you.” Tell them off for pushing someone out of their way, rather than trying “excuse me” first.

5. Tell them fart jokes are not appropriate at their grandma’s dinner table, but also let them make fart jokes at home.

6. Don’t try to shelter them from the world’s evils. You can protect them as best you can, while also making them aware that the world is not all sunshine and rainbows.

7. You’re allowed to swear around them once in a while. (My kid hears a lot of cursing out there, but so far he knows better than to repeat it.)

8. Enroll them in extracurricular activities, but don’t force them if they don’t like the after-school activity they’re doing. Find what they do like, and nurture it.

9. Kids do not have to finish every piece of food on their plate. In fact, intuitive eating benefits children as well as adults. (Also, let them choose what to eat when they’re a bit older. Otherwise you’re going to waste a lot of food.)

10. Listen to your children, as they have already mastered mindfulness. At the very least, their thoughts make for some interesting banter, and an opportunity to bond.

11. It’s fine to show off your kid(s) on social media, but don’t use their embarrassment or shame as a way to gain followers. They will grow up one day and possibly be resentful. Is that worth more “likes”?

12. Let them play video games. It will not make them violent when they’re older. (If that were the case, I’d be a serial killer.)

13. Also encourage them to play outside, or go for a walk with them. Give them an appreciation of nature, and the simple joy of observing other humans.

14. Love them.

Ok, well, that’s about it for now I guess. You can choose to ignore all of my own advice, and that’s cool. However, I would recommend that you follow the last point consistently, and the other pieces will hopefully fall into place.

This post was previously published on


Photo credit: Daniel K Cheung on Unsplash


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