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An age-by-age guide to screwing up your kids

School-age kids

Soccer mom arguing with ref

Elementary school kids are great. Still young enough you can scar them for life, yet old enough to carry on a decent conversation. There are many ways to mess up an elementary school kid.

Athletic support

Congratulations, you are now a baseball/soccer/basketball mom! Supporting your child’s athletic endeavors in youth sports is a great way to screw him up. Make sure to yell insignificant things from the bleachers such as, “Get the ball!” or “Score!” because obviously the kids don’t have a clue what they are doing. Also make sure your little baseball player is properly outfitted for each game by yelling loudly, “Bobby, are you wearing your cup?” within earshot of the whole team. Make it a point to be the only mom who brings healthy snacks for the soccer halftime, because obviously nobody loves the mom who brings donuts.

Smarty pants

Another thing kids this age love is when you talk openly and loudly about their grades/achievements/extracurricular activities. Yelling, “Susie, let’s go! You’ll be late for your Mandarin lessons!” is a sure way to ruin a third grader’s life.


Teen learning to drive with mom

If you have made it this far as a parent, the teenage years are great. So many opportunities to screw your kids up before they leave home for good!

Drive them crazy

So, your teen is ready to learn to drive? Awesome — nothing screws up your kid faster than you yelling at them while they are learning to drive. Make sure to use, “Watch out!” or “Use the brakes!” several times, possibly while gripping the dashboard and fingering your rosary beads. Bonus points if you see one of their friends and roll the window down to scream, “Hey Todd! Look who’s driving!” so that everyone can be in on the fun.


Teenagers love it when parents take chances with their fashion choices — especially when they are at the grocery store or the mall together. Be sure to pull out anything from the 80s, anything with a flared leg or anything tie-dyed. Bonus points for slippers worn to the store.

Are there really any perfect parents? If there are, I still haven’t met them. Most of us are too busy screwing up our kids.

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