In the back of one of my favorite childhood books, printed on the backside of a flyleaf where few people would look is something that has always been my guiding principle as a parent.

“A Message To the Children Who Have Read this Book

When you grow up and have children of your own, do please remember something important.

A stodgy parent is no fun at all!

What a child wants

— and DESERVES —

is a parent who is


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The author was Roald Dahl, and the book is “Danny the Champion of the World”.

This fine story has been made into a film, but the book is infinitely better. It follows a brief period in the life of an English schoolboy and the relationship he has with his father.

While I can’t endorse involving your kids in illegal like the ones described in the book, I firmly believe that it is critical to engage your kids in some shared activities that only you and THAT kid participate in. This creates a deep bond and shows each kid that they are special and valued as unique individuals. I know that finding 1 on 1 time would be difficult for families with multiple children, but it is definitely worth the effort.

Even if it is nothing more than reading books or watching movies together, laughing, playing, and having fun together pays big dividends. Don’t be the stodgy parent!