I’ll be the first to tell you that I don’t have all the answers in this parenting biz. Sometimes, I have to stay at work late just to get my mind right (read: avoid killing someone for their crazy antics). Other times I sit in my car and think about the days I took silence for granted. But overall, parenting is a rewarding, albeit tough, gig. I doubt seriously that I am the only parent who pensively sits and thinks, “What would Biggie do at a time like this?” Imagine my surprise when I realized he gave us a road map long ago. Without further ado…
IT’S THE PARENT COMMANDMENTS, WHA?!
“Rule Number Uno – Never let no one know how much dough you hold.”
Your finances are not your kids’ business. I will discuss how you should teach them to manage their finances in a later rule. They should also be taught to not be wasteful with household resources and respect your hard work, but that’s the extent of it. Kids don’t need to see your pay stub and know that after you pay rent, you can’t buy milk. This is especially true if you were ill prepared to have kids in the first place. It’s really your issue, so chuck it up and deal. Plus, if your kids are too young to understand proper decorum, they will put you on blast.
“Number Two – Never let them know your next move.”
This is especially for parents of those squirrely teenagers. I don’t believe in lo-jacking kids. I place the responsibility of doing the right thing squarely on my kids’ shoulders. They will get into just as much trouble as we did, if not more. It comes with the territory. That being said, you don’t have to make it easy for them. Come home at different times, pop up at school from time to time, check that cell phone.* But it’s not all combat. Wake them up early and take them for a one on one breakfast or an impromptu road trip. Show them that you’re not only paying attention when they’re doing bad. Life isn’t about living by rote. Teach your kids that.
“Number Three – Never trust no-bo-dy.”
Folks are crazy. Not everyone is fit to meet your kids, be it family, acquaintance or romantic interest. People should first be fully vetted. It’s not about everyone being out to harm your kids. Think about a person who is always draining and negative. Think about how they take from you as an adult. Now imagine the type of impact that person could have on a young developing spirit.
“Number Four – I know you heard this before: Never get high on your own supply.”
Stop eating all your kids’ snacks, yo! We’ve all been there. It’s midnight, and you can’t sleep. Maybe there’s an SVU marathon keeping you company. Unfortunately, there’s nothing in the house but Capri Suns, Goldfish crackers and Fruit Roll Ups. You. Go. HAM! Stop. 1. You don’t have your kids’ metabolism. Too many nights like that, and you’ll be looking like your always shrugging about the neck area. 2. Your paleolithic gastrointestinal system just ain’t what it used to be. Within 20 minutes, you’ll be feeling like a living, breathing WTF.
“Number Five – Never sell no crack where you rest at.”
So, crack…let’s not sell that at all, ‘kay? But we all have our proclivities. Whatever your recreational vice may be, keep it as far away from your kids as possible. Your random booty calls do not need your address. Your weed man should NEVER deliver to your house. I’m not telling you what to do with your me time. But be responsible when it comes to shielding your kids from that.
“Number Six – That god damn credit? Dead it.”
Kids need allowances. Giving them a set amount of money to work with, as opposed to being an inexhaustible ATM is one of the best ways to teach your kids the value of money. Here is where they learn about saving, management and responsibility. When their dough is gone, it’s gone. I don’t play that “advance on my allowance” game. It is equally important that you set an example in being timely and consistent in making their allowance payments. The onus on on you to teach them how to be prompt in meeting their obligations to others.
“Seven – This rule is so underrated: keep your family and business completely separated.”
I can’t tell you how many family squabbles I’ve seen go down because of family-helping-family child care. Having your retired aunt take care of the kids may seem like a good idea, but that should really be your last resort. In business, we often take far more liberties with family than we would with other people, and vice versa. The biggest problems care providers have with the parents they are “helping” are financial compensation and timeliness. The biggest problems I’ve seen parents complain of are supervision and what the kids’ minds are being fed. Too many parents are showing up at 8 pm and paying $40 a week. Too many providers are watching the stories and teaching the babies everything on the radio. Emergencies happen, but leaving child care to the experts typically is better in the long run for all involved.
“Number Eight – Never keep no weight on you.”
Do I have to tell yall not to walk around with heroin bricks? Didn’t think so. I’m going to take liberties and substitute “weight” for “heat.” People have guns. Cool. LOCK ‘EM UP! I can’t tell you how my heart shatters when I hear about kids getting their hands on guns. Typically they don’t recognize how dangerous guns can be. And even if your kids are thoroughly educated about guns, their friends probably are not. Between accidental shootings, suicides and gun violence at the hands of other kids, it’s far better to be safe than sorry.
“Number 9 – Should have been Number One to me: If you ain’t gettin bagged, stay the fuck from police.”
Parents, stop dry snitching on your kids. As moms and dads, we have the inside tracks on our shorties, but that doesn’t obligate us to give other authority figures the cheat codes. In some cases, our insights can unfairly work against our kids. If you tell a kid’s teacher that your kid is “lazy” during the first week of school, the teacher may not take their requests for help seriously when they truly have issues grasping certain concepts. It can actually stunt them from being able to develop who they are when they aren’t around you. Our primary job as parents is advocate, not adversary.
“Number Ten – A strong word called consignment. Strictly for live men. Not for freshmen. If you ain’t got the clientele say hell no, ’cause they gon’ want they money rain, sleet, hail, snow.”
Yes. All that. If you value silence, your sanity and a generally happy home, do not make promises to your kids if you can’t deliver. It gets ugly. Kids do not give a solitary flarn about your excuses. Oh, and all those times they forget when you tell them to take out the trash and clean their room? Yeah, that’s because that memory is reserved to remember stuff you said before they were born. “YOU SAID YOU WERE GONNA TAKE ME TO DISNEY ON ICE!!!” It doesn’t matter if you told it to your dead aunt in the 80s. But our kids rely on us to keep our word. That’s not an unfair request. Things happen and breaking a few promises is unavoidable. But that should be the exception, not the rule.
I can’t guarantee you mad bread to break up, but this should at least guarantee you a retirement home with a door, running water and electricity.
* Complete privacy comes with adulthood/complete responsibility for yourself. You’ll not plot cutting class on a phone with my name on the bill.