Being a parent isn't easy. If you're anything like me, you know it's hard to find enough hours in the day for working, sleeping, and raising the kids. But leading psychologists agree that taking an active role in your child's burgeoning interests is crucial to their development. So, regardless of how busy your schedule gets, it's important to take an interest in the bullshit your kids care about.
Remember: That stupid crap matters to them, and they need to feel like you give a shit about it.
Kids grow up so fast. Before you know it, they'll be teenagers, and you'll wish you had paid closer attention to the junk they waste your money on. So, while you still have time, strengthen your relationship with your growing son or daughter by making an effort to become engaged in whatever it is they think is so goddamn interesting.
Now, you may be thinking, "But I already bought my daughter a buttload of that Dora the Explorer stuff she's always running off at the mouth about." Believe me, I know. But just purchasing the items necessary to further your child's interests isn't enough. You actually have to sit down and let them go on and on about it for a while.
You'll be building trust and openness in your parent-child relationship, and you might learn the names of some of those lousy brats they hang out with.
And it doesn't have to take that long, thank God. Studies have shown that as little as five minutes a day can go a long way toward conveying your concern about their little hobbies and what have you. As an involved parent, you should make an effort to nod your head every now and then, so your child will know that you care deeply about whatever they're blathering on about—you might even consider saying something as they yak away. You'd be surprised how much monosyllabic grunts like "hrrm" can do to enhance your quality time.
The important thing is to be aware of and talk about all that stuff with the toy trains, and the hiking, and model-making, and the knitting, and the rest of the garbage they spend time doing.
Children are into all kinds of stupid stuff—bird-watching, stamp-collecting, those miniature thingamabobs for dolls—and our role as a nurturer should be to foster their dumbass hobbies. Does your child like dinosaurs? Fine. Dinosaurs it'll have to be. Learn some of those fuckers' names. Quick tip from me to you: Most of them end in "saurus," so you can fake your way along pretty good by just adding that to the end of a word you already know. You could look some of that dinosaur stuff up on the Internet, if you absolutely have to. Then, talk to your child often about these prehistoric things and how they walked the earth millions of years ago, laid eggs, hunted down prey, and kicked it to death with their back legs or whatever it is they did.
Maybe you have a daughter who likes to draw unicorns or elves or some shit like that. Doesn't matter what it is. When she approaches you with her latest picture of a dolphin jumping over a rainbow or whatever, don't just slap that son of a bitch on the refrigerator with a magnet and pat her on the head. Actively tell your little girl you appreciate her unique talents as a developing young lady and, for good measure, tack on some bullshit about how much her little crayon chicken-scratches mean to you.
But that's not all you, as a parent, should do. Ask them if they play any sports yet. That ought to take up some time. On special occasions, maybe even do some shit with them, too. Go to the museum or something. Look at a bunch of that ancient medieval armor. Kids love that warrior nonsense. Or take them to the park and kick a ball around or do some of that other rigamarole they think is so fun.
And for Christ's sake, would it kill you to ask about their schools?
Taking the time to learn about the crap your kids like will not only bring you closer to your children, but will foster a bond that can last well into their teenage years—when you'll really want to know just who the hell those stupid fucks they're hanging out with are, and what the hell they're doing all day and night.† If you set an example by putting up with the boring-ass stuff your child likes doing, the whole family will be better equipped to pay attention to each other's crap in the long run. And that means everyone comes out a grade-A, No. 1, goddamn fucking winner.