Good parenting is all relative in my guilt-free plan

By Jason Offutt

Parents, at least the good ones, rarely think they made the right decision about anything.
Should I have served mac and cheese two meals in a row? Is SpongeBob a bad influence on my 7-year-old? Was it OK to let my teenage daughter ride to South Dakota with all those bikers?
It’s hard to know if a choice you made saved your child from a lifetime of emotional problems, or if you’ve caused him more psychological trauma than Joe Jackson.
Parents, there is hope. If you fret over allowing your children to drink soda, or stay up too late, just follow the Offutt Method of Guilt-Free Parenting.
There’s only one step. 1) Don’t be these people.
Kymberely Frederick and Daniel Richards are worse parents than you. The Casselberry, Fla., couple recently left their three youngest children home alone while they went to the courthouse to get married so Daniel – wait for it – could avoid paying child support.
The children were all younger than three and asleep in their cribs. Why wake them?
Kymberely and Daniel at least made some effort to look after their 7- and 8-year-old children by calling neighbors from the courthouse to ask if they’d watch the kids coming home from school.
Daniel: Hey, Bob. This is Danny. Would you watch out for the boys getting off the bus?
Neighbor: What do you mean watch out for?
Kymberely (in the background): Tell ’im them sores ain’t catchy no more. Tell ’im.
Neighbor: Did she say sores?
Daniel: Don’t worry ’bout that, Bob. They’re good clean boys. Just keep ’em away from aerosol cans and matches. My eyebrows ain’t grown back yet.
When the newly married couple arrived home, probably with honeymoon dreams involving the beach and Natural Light mimosas, police were there to take them immediately to jail. The five children are in the custody of Child Protective Services.
Do you feel better? You should, because no matter what you do as a parent, unless you’re a “Toddlers in Tiaras” mom, you’re not as bad as those parents.
“Can I have another cookie?” the Girl asked my wife after she’d already eaten two.
Seconds crawled by. “Can I have another cookie?”
Thinking. Deep, deep thinking. “We have a lot of cookies. I should have another one.”
“Oh, so can I have another cookie?” The Girl is more persistent than a common cold virus, and like a cold, she eventually wears us down. I hope when she’s in high school she doesn’t start asking if she can smoke.
“Go ahead,” my wife said. “I’m not the cookie police.”
“Well,” I said as the Girl walked by with a fistful of cookies. “At least we’re not that couple from Florida.”
My wife nodded. “Yeah, you’re right. We’re good parents.”
A few days later, after realizing the children ate the equivalent of a pound of sugar for breakfast, I turned to my wife and said, “At least we’re not that couple from Florida.”
My wife smiled. “It works every time.”

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