20 Guidelines for Raising a Child Content from the guide to life, the universe and everything

20 Guidelines for Raising a Child

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The following is a list of guidelines for raising a child. It is by no means exhaustive and is not listed in any particular order. Follow these and you could make your child's young years the ones they cherish for a lifetime.

  • Let sleeping children lie, even when they're hulking great teenagers, unless they have given instructions to the contrary.

  • Get the injections, especially if travelling to developing countries. Babies have been known to die of diseases that we take as par for the course in the West.

  • Never promise or threaten anything you can't deliver.

  • Laugh at your kids' jokes. Then they might laugh at yours when you're old and grey. Talk to them, listen to them. You’ll learn useful things about lantern fish1.

  • Take your kids to work if possible to let them see where the funds come from.

  • As soon as they're old enough, let them know where the funds go. Involve them in any budgeting decision that affects them.

  • Whenever possible, let them choose or pay for their own clothes. That way they'll wear them.

  • Let little ones help with the housework (supervised). This cons them into helping when it's necessary in later years. 'But you've always washed up, taken out the rubbish, etc.'

  • Play games with them all their lives. Give up tennis when they thrash you off the court, but keep at it with Scrabble, Monopoly, or whatever your family 'always' plays at Christmas

  • Be polite to their friends. With luck this will stick, so the friends will be polite to you. They may also visit and do helpful things in your children's absence like take you to the airport, put your flatpack kitchen units together, or send you stunning fabric from their round the world travels.

  • Take them travelling if your life works that way.

  • Go to all possible school functions. It is better to turn up in an embarrassing costume than not to turn up. If you have become a working single parent, you can slack off a little here. However, try to only slack off a little and be sure to send an interested substitute in your place.

  • Single parents do not have to provide home-made cakes or the like. Send some money to the cake sale and buy someone else's best effort.

  • Provide driving lessons as soon as it's legal while hammering in the 'don't drink and drive' messages.

  • Don't be a hypocrite. If you're a drinker, introduce them to the good stuff. That way, they buy it for your birthdays.

  • Hugs are more important than almost everything else.

  • Don't lie to your children. Once they are old enough to understand what lies are, don't accept lies from them.

  • Try to like the music they like, or have different music machines/instruments; anyone older than eight can earn the money to buy their own by doing extra chores.

  • Take pictures, keep artwork, train tickets, collect swimming medals, and surreptitiously create a scrapbook. Why should you have to be 93 before This is your Life2 calls?

  • Encourage any talent.

Enjoy it - they're only lent to you for 18 years. If they still come round to see you later, you've done something right.

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1Lantern fish have luminescent organs.2This is your Life is a TV programme that surprises celebrity guests by dredging through their past and bringing their friends and family together in front of a live audience.

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