Bringing Up Baby

August 30, 2023

Believe it or not, I successfully raised five humans. Oh, I made my boatload of mistakes (picture a QE2 size boat), but a handful of wonderful adults emerged from their upbringing anyway. From time to time, I am asked to spill my childrearing secrets. Unfortunately, I don’t remember much (lack of sleep then, plus memory loss now, are the culprits). But clearly whatever I did, worked out!

I'm sure my tips and tricks would not all resonate for Modern Moms (and Dads), but frankly, some of the current stuff I’m hearing sounds rather strange. Take, for example:


Favored by the (in)famous Duggars, this method is supposed to instill unquestioning obedience in babies. You simply plop the infant on a blanket, with favorite toys just out of reach. Then, when your tot tries to grab the toys and exit the blanket, you are supposed to hit them (gently). Over time, the child learns to stay put, and also that Mom (and Dad) are kind of horrible.


The successor to Helicopter Parenting, the Bulldozer doesn’t just hover helpfully around the child, but actually flattens any and all obstacles in the child’s way (including coaches, teachers and employers). The goal here is to make life perfectly smooth for little Brittanica or Adolphus, so that they need never shed a tear (or make any effort beyond the bare minimum). How like Real Life, eh?


Now this sounds lovely, right? Who doesn’t want to be treated with gentleness and respect? The problem seems to be that it’s a one-way street. Mommy is smacked in the eye by young Lucretia (or Bronzino) because she asks them to get ready for preschool. Mommy should then examine her conscience: WHY is she making her precious one rush? Isn’t it MOMMY’S hang up (being “on time” for anything) and therefore Mommy’s fault? Something to ponder as Mommy gazes in the mirror at her new black eye.


I know, it’s the worst. But at some point, the kiddo has to learn to use the bathroom, and you’ve gotta help them figure it out. I’m reading about the increasing number of kindergarteners in pull ups (heck, why not transition them straight to Depends once they hit middle school?) Like setting boundaries and expectations, potty training is not the “fun” part of the parenting job. But it sure beats a poke in the eye! Oh, wait…

I could go on, but I only have 500 words to work with here. Suffice it to say, the grownups generally are trying their best, in a world that is increasingly challenging and stressful. It would be wonderful to dwell in La La Land, but we don’t. So, parents, aim for a middle ground: try to raise kids who are neither mindless automatons nor spoiled-rotten brats. Guide your offspring with both love and limits. And when in doubt, just ask yourself: WWED (What Would Elise Do?”)

Always glad to help!


    I am an author (of five books, numerous plays, poetry and freelance articles,) a retired director (of Spiritual Formation at a Lutheran church,) and a producer (of five kids).

    I write about my hectic, funny, perfectly imperfect life.

    Please visit my website: or email me at



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