dos and donts

How to (Not) Mess Up Your Kids for Life

You cannot mess up your kids for life if you:

  • 1. Have pain relief during labor and delivery
  • 2. Have a caesarean section
  • 3. Don’t use a doula or midwife
  • 4. Give birth in a hospital with a doctor
  • 5. Don’t breastfeed
  • 6. Bottlefeed formula
  • 7. Breastfeed and give formula
  • 8. Don’t pump your breast milk
  • 9. Give a pacifier
  • 10. Let the baby “cry it out
  • 11. Don’t let them sleep with you
  • 12. Don’t make your own baby food
  • 13. Let them watch TV
  • 14. Don’t use organic products
  • 15. Give them occasional sweets
  • 16. Give them apple juice
  • 17. Work outside the home
  • 18. Get divorced (but don’t divorce the kid)

You may mess up you kids for life if you:

  • 1. Obsess over, feel guilt or shame about your caesarean or not breastfeeding
  • 2. Are often preoccupied with something else while you are with them
  • 3. Are unhappy being home all day with a baby/child
  • 4. Don’t teach them manners
  • 5. Don’t make them feel like the most important thing in the world to you
  • 6. Don’t have realistic expectations of them and yourself
  • 7. Do their homework
  • 8. Spoil them by giving them everything they want, when they want it
  • 9. Don’t read to them
  • 10. Don’t admit your mistakes
  • 11. Expect them to live the life you want for them or would have wanted for yourself
  • 12. Want to be their best friend
  • 13. Don’t teach them to clean up after themselves
  • 14. Don’t discipline consistently, firmly, and kindly

You will mess up your kid for life if you

  • 1. Fail to impose order on the chaos that is their world
  • 2. Don’t immunize them
  • 3. Don’t use a car seat
  • 4. Humiliate or diminish them
  • 5. Withhold your love (which is not the same as withholding your approval)
  • 6. Ignore their emotional, physical, and spiritual needs

Remember: You’ll make mistakes. Lots of them. It’s OK. Luckily, resilience is hard-wired in kids. Don’t be hard on yourself.

Also remember: You will be the one with gray hair. You will never see a kid with gray hair that their parents gave to them.

Renee SeptimusRenée Septimus is a social worker and Jewish educator. She lives with her husband Joe on Manhattan’s Upper West Side and is the very proud mom of four married children and a savta (that's Hebrew for grandmother) to a (growing) bunch of absolutely perfect grandchildren!

The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. Comments are moderated, so use your inside voices, keep your hands to yourself, and no, we're not interested in herbal supplements.

Jewish Baby Name Finder

Gender

First Letter

Submit