True Parent 7

Open Married with Children

More Parents are Experimenting with Polyamory—But Not for the Reasons You Might Think

Blurred Lines

Portland Public Schools is Redrawing District Boundaries Again... Which Could Mean More Trouble for Disadvantaged Students

Roam Schooled

How My Kids’ Questions Inspired a Podcast, and the Amazing Things I’ve Learned

Ask the Parent!

“Attack of the Instagram Kids!”

Parent to Parent

“Life a Finger”

My Daughter, Tilda Swinton

How Parenting a Preteen Just About Killed Me

The first time I flipped the bird at my child was when she was four. (And yes, I’m ashamed to say it’s happened more than once.) Touch of background: My partner and I use the “1-2-3 Magic” disciplinary system, in which the kid does something rotten, you hold up a finger and say, “That’s one.” They do it again, “That’s two.” Then on three they go into timeout or have their favorite Disney princess dress burned on the front lawn in effigy.

Anyway, back to the story: We’re on a family drive, and the four-year-old is in rare, evil form. Screaming for constant radio station changes. Bellyaching about the lack of sugary snacks. Demanding we pick up the toy she incessantly drops on the floorboard. In a futile attempt to improve her worsening mood, I suggest a sing-a-long which I kick off with my very impressive rendition of “Supercalifragilisticexpi- alidocious” from Mary Poppins. I’m not fooling, people, I kill this song. I sing it with passion, extreme rambunctiousness, and it never-ever fails to put a beaming smile of appreciation on the face of any lucky person whose ears it reaches.

So when I burst into song with my usual display of unbridled enthusiasm, I’m suddenly stopped short by a piercing scream from the back seat:


And that’s when I did it. My hand involuntarily shot up, middle finger straining toward the heavens. I was flipping my four-year old daughter off. There was a slight pause as she looked at my raised finger, and then calmly responded, “That’s one.”

I’m not gonna be too hard on myself here, especially after taking an informal poll of other parents who are also guilty of “lifting a finger” at their children behind closed doors or open palms. It’s always the people you love the most who burrow beneath your skin the deepest. In that context, I suppose giving your child the bird might be considered “the greatest love of all.” Am I right? Think before you respond, and then forget I ever mentioned it.

Anyway, this is just a long-winded way of saying that if you’re guilty of being human around your kids, True Parent is the magazine for you. It’s specifically designed for parents (such as myself) who are white-knuckling it most of the time, and when they make mistakes (in my case, A LOT), they’re usually doing it out of love—and making an honest attempt to do it better. So the next time you accidentally flip your child off? Think of it as your way of saying to them, “You’re number one.”