David Altshuler, M.S.
(305) 978-8917 | david@davidaltshuler.com


Recently another parenting article found its way into print by the next in a line of namby pamby, touchy feely, peace, love, ten-speed, hearts and flowers, knitting granola, Whimpasaurus moms. Amy Chua argues for no sleepovers. Of course sensible parents who want what is best for their children do not allow sleepovers. Sleepovers are filled with other foods, other ideas and--here's the worst of it--other people's children. No sleepovers may be a good place to start but to ensure that your child ends up as Number One, but no sleep is the only way to go.

In my recently published best seller, Parent Ineffectiveness Training, (PIT,) I make a point based on my sophisticated and deep understanding of the base ten number system. Unlike other "foreign" number systems with who knows how many symbols for the number one, in America, there is only one Number One. When your child is sleeping, my child is practicing the bouzouki and that's all there is to it. My house, my rules, baby.

"But my hands are bleeding and I want to sleep," my child frequently signs. (Too young for actual speech, our daughter was taught to sign just after she finished her APGAR prep seminar. Needless to say, she got a perfect ten.) "Oh, your hands are bleeding and you want to sleep?" I respond. "Go back to practicing. Your mother and I only had you to save the marriage."

There can only be one Number One and that's going to be MY CHILD. Your child can be Number Two--and I mean that in every sense of the phrase. Of all the symphonies in all the orchestras in all the cities in the country there can only be one First first violinist and that's going to be MY CHILD. Your child doesn't matter. So go ahead and let her take time off for eating. What difference will it make subsequently when your child is drinking wine in the gutter and my child is the first chair bouzouki player at the world renown BOBO? (BOston Bouzouki Orchestra.)

Don't believe me? Think that there have been other happy people in the world who weren't the product of two married professional parents one of whom is Asian living in New Haven? Van Gogh? Never played violin, didn't sell three paintings in his life, didn't amount to a hill of sunflower seeds. Throw out that baby, the bathwater and the empty paint tubes. That Albert Dude? Well known as a terrible violinist. Terrible. Other examples of developmentally delayed failure children? I can't name them all. Everyone except my child.

"Love your child for who she is not for what she does"? What clap trap. Some years ago, the eldest of my 17 children (Free Parenting Tip: When family planning, focus on prime numbers) brought home a 96 on a math test. "It was the highest score in the class," she said proudly. "What's the matter, they don't give 100s in that class?" I responded before hitting her with the bouzouki. "Now drop and give me 20!"

All those developmentally delayed children, the cognitively impaired, those with learning differences? Pish and tosh! They would all be Number One had they not been coddled. As many insightful educators will attest, there is no such thing as learning differences although there is such a thing as lazy children.


As always, here's the real deal for the chronically irony impaired: Not all children can be Number One. By definition, only one child can be first chair, first in the class. If the only way your child is going to be happy is by being first, then there are going to be many disappointed children. If the only way mommy is going to be happy is if her child is number one, mommy might consider hopping in her Lexus for a trip to the hobby store.

We want out children to be content, fulfilled, self actualized. Success is great. But I'd rather my child be a happy artist than a miserable attorney. Betting all your happiness on your child's success is a losing proposition. "If winning isn't everything, then why do they keep score?" Vince Lombardi said. If having happy children is the goal, then letting them find their own way has got to be part of the equation.



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