Dave Barry’s new book on parenting:

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You Can Date Boys When You’re Forty:

Dave Barry on Parenting and Other Topics He Knows Very Little About

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While visiting his publisher, acc. to Florida Today (3-6-14) “he was asked for 5 tips about what parents of teens should not do.”

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I would like to share those and react to them.

For more use the DOOR.

 

[MORE]

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3 observations to start off.

(1)  He’s made more money writing  than I have, so consider that. (Is some jealousy here?)

(2)  He dedicates this to his two kids, a boy now 33 and girl 14. My wife and I raised twice as many kids. Further, I strongly suspect, according to his wordy subtitle,  he’s directing his words to his daughter. If not, he should be more clear. Consider that.

(3)  I’ve not read the book.

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Now, his 5 Tips on what parents should not do. (I’m quoting from Florida Today.) My responses will be in color (quoting from my own head).

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1. “Do not try to be cool. You are not cool to your child. You are hideously embarrassing.”

True, but overstated. Further, I wasn’t “cool” in the way they were nor would I ever have wanted to be. I’d earned the right to move on and be myself–and had. If my kids or their friends expected me to be a “0,” or had an issue with that, it was their problem (and certainly not a big one).

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2. “Do not talk to your child’s friends. This will be hideously embarrassing to your child. If you are around your child’s friends, you should be invisible and wear military-style camouflage.”

Nonsense…Many of my kids’ friends were interesting. I asked them questions, listened to their answers, and learned a lot. I would’ve missed much if I’d pretended they weren’t there. If I had worn the recommended “military camouflage,” they would have run for cover. My occasional karate uniform did enough eye-rolling but seemed to leave no lasting damage. In fact, my daughter “insisted” I start karate with her and her friends. How I resisted at first! “Look,” I said, “you’re 14 and I’m your father!” To which she snapped back, “Well, I can handle it!” Eventually, I did too. Together we traveled and sparred in tournaments, and here I am a black belt more than 20 years later. I should confess, however, once overhearing one of my kid’s friends: “It’s your turn to be grilled. I got it last time.”

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3. “Never, ever sing in the presence of your child’s friends, unless you want your child to do something like, ‘If you don’t get an A in geometry, I’m going to sing in public.’ “

Good point…

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4. “When you’re driving your child and your child’s friends, do not talk to them. Do not sing along with the radio. Do not act like you are even in the car. Ideally, you should run along next to the car steering through the window.”

Not talking? Well, certainly not dominating. But really, some kids really enjoy talking with older adults who know how to use their ears as well as their tongue, and seem to care–without taking things too far. And the singing? Good advice to me and my family, none of whom have distinguished themselves in musical performance. And the running along “steering through the window”–yes, it’s a metaphor, but one that needs a rewrite for the image it creates is not flattering, and the opposite of what I think is intended. But, then, my take on what’s funny is sometimes jaded.

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5. “Never pick your child up at middle school in the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile.” Barry confesses he did just that to his son when Rob was in sixth grade in 1994. Barry drove the Wienermobile for a day to write about it for The Miami Herald, where he was a columnist. ‘It took only three or four years for him to get over it,’ ” Barry says (to FT, via USA TODAY).

Sorry, I disagree. If I had a chance to do that to my kids I’d never pass it up! Scars or no scars. Opportunities like that don’t come every day. I think Dave is encouraging parents to shrink back when there are chances to give kids a good push down the road of life. They’re certainly getting pushes from everyone and everything else.

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Now what would my kids think of this? Well, they won’t see it, partly because they’ve all happily married and have fled: one to the Middle East, one to Africa, one to Indiana, and one to the Nashville area (not to sing, however). How have they “turned out”? So far I’ve reminded each of them that I’m very pleased with  how they’ve done “so far.” They’ve told me several times how annoyed they are with those last two words which are a standard part of my litany of evaluation.

But, in my case, it’s an accurate way to be honest.

And they’ve warned me. “You realize, Dad, that we already have the inscription for whatever else you want on your tombstone: ‘HERE LIES OUR FATHER — SO FAR.’ ”