The really cool thing about kids is that they haven’t been jaded enough by life to take on the amount of social baggage we do as adults. Children look up to us as tall geniuses that can do anything and answer any question their little minds come up with. Because of their non-judgmental nature, it’s easy to slack off and forget that a young child is a tiny life recorder that’s looking at mommy and daddy’s antics as the rulebook for dealing with everyone they meet.
That would explain the outrage people felt when the videos of Tyga allegedly smoking a blunt in front of his son and Amber Rose telling Seth Meyers about twerking for her son broke on the web. While I don’t believe that a toddler laughing at their mom making it clap will damage them beyond repair, parents doing dumb sh** around their kids should have its limits. As a rule of thumb, the threshold of ratchetry should be measured by how many potential problems it could cause. With that in mind, here is a cheat sheet for parents looking to entertain their kids without turning them into savages.
Please make sure your kids know when and when not to display tasteless humor. At home it’s funny to draw a face on your toddler’s butt and say it speaks fartenese. Not so funny when they draw a face on some other kid’s butt at daycare and demand that it speak fartenese. Let the kids know that some things are cool behind closed doors and not outside.
Yes, weed is only illegal because of racism and fear. However, that doesn’t mean it’s safe or appropriate to blow trees in front of the baby. A kid inhaling cannabis smoke can develop memory and other health problems. No one in their right mind is going to give a two-year-old a shot of tequila so why would you have your baby inhaling weed smoke either? Save your blunt time for when you’re away from the kids.
Speaking of liquor, getting drunk around the kids is also a no-no. I distinctly remember my own dad coming home intoxicated and wanting to play fight. A well-timed punch in the gut and one of my mom’s flower pots fell on his head like in a cartoon. Maybe no literal birds flew around his head but he never lived that down. Jokes aside, things could’ve gone much worse and as news headlines tell you, they have. Don’t think for a second that wine in a fancy glass makes is OK either. Booze screws up your senses and if you know how kids do, you know you need every sense available.
Dress your kids in decent, child-appropriate clothes. Way too many times, I’ve seen little boys looking like stick-up artists and little girls dressed like the monkey bars are a substitute stripper pole. Osh-Kosh is cute, jeans sagging so they show the Huggies logo isn’t.
Curb the cussing around your kids. The fun in saying bad words is second only to a trip to Disney World for kids. I can guarantee that before a child says “Please” or “Thank you”, they will drop an S or F-bomb at the most embarrassing time. My own kid was able to spit the word “b****” perfectly after hearing it once. I learned that when a kid does curse, it’s best to act like nothing happened. A reaction is only going to fuel the fire and before you know it, your kid will be testing out their newly learned words while saying grace.
There are many more but to list them all would demand a dedicated website. I’m not saying be a prude or don’t have fun with your little ones, but building a foundation for them of what’s appropriate in the world outside their home is too important to their future success. A child has their entire lifetime to be a hot mess. Hopefully, at least you as a parent, can stall it a bit.
Larry Hester is a Brooklyn-born writer who’s written for Vibe, BET.com, The Source, Complex and more. He now resides in Newark, New Jersey with his wife and son. He welcomes any parenting advice or encouragement. Check him out on Facebook and Twitter @almostcooldad.