10 Ways To Guarantee Your Kids Will End Up In Therapy

A good shrink (like a quality preschool) should probably be booked while still pregnant. Ages 12-15 are the target range, but with any luck, you might get them committed earlier. And remember, therapists have heard everything there is to hear about mothers and how they screwed up the lives of their patients/clients. Originality counts!


So, forget buying a gender-neutral dollhouse for your son or saying, "Look at those thunder-thighs" while looking in a mirror in front of your developing daughter. Way overdone! Having your teen hold up a large, self-mocking sign on a crowded intersection is no longer unique and will have the school psychologist snoozing before they can say "Attachment Disorder."

I have six kids and here are my tips to make sure your child announces to others that he/she comes from a dysfunctional family.

1. It's A Secret. This only works if you have more than one child. We look for ways to make kids feel special, right? They are individuals! It's depressing for a child to be told you love all their siblings equally. How can they ever shine? Here's an easy fix. Tell one child (in private) that he has always been your favorite and you love him more. Warn him if the others ever found out, they would be devastated—so it must stay your little secret. Repeat with however many kids you have. Bonus: This will be the hot topic of the day at your funeral, when the beans are finally spilled.

2. Lists Are Fun! Don't be that mother with the mundane grocery list magnetized on your fridge. Tack up a "What I Could Have Been if only I Never Became a Mother" list instead. "Rich Lawyer" and "Famous Movie Star" are always good ones to feature at the top. But make sure you separately number all the sacrifices you've made and hobbies you had to give up. You never got to play the violin? No worries! Leaving this list in plain sight will ensure your kid has sufficient guilt to adhere to your favorite childhood dream long enough for you to live vicariously through him. Trust me, being a stage mom is the easiest way for you to make it to Hollywood.

3. Hidden Diary. But not too hidden! Write in your (unlocked) journal that [insert name of kid] must never, ever find out she is actually the love child of Mr. Walt Disney. (Don't worry about the math here), and if she behaves herself perfectly for the next year (don't date this diary entry), Walt will come for her (don't worry about exhuming fees) and she will permanently reside in Sleeping Beauty's castle at Disneyland with no need ever to go to school or do chores again. Be sure and write that Walt has a pet peeve about throwing dirty clothes on the floor. End this journal with an exciting touch of realism. Let's say you have a daughter named Savannah. So, for example, you could jot down, "Just think: Savannah Disney! Wow. Just, wow."

4. Getting Your Just Desserts. A lot can be accomplished with this. First of all, remind your kids that fruit is actually "nature's dessert." You will see the number of times they ask to have friends over for dinner dwindle. Plus, a bushel of bright red strawberries is festive and holds candles quite nicely in place of real birthday cake. After a year or two of this, tell them you've thought it over and realized you've been too restrictive and tonight, you're serving dessert for dinner! (I don't provide recipes, sorry.) Think of serving something like this:

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After their first confused bite, say, "You'll thank me later when you don't have to go to the dentist so often. And by the way, did I ever mention that I could have been a dentist if only I...." Let them finish that sentence.

5. The 'Eyes' Have It. You thought googly eyes were just for craft projects, didn't you? The therapist will never hear of nightmares like these! When you're playing Beauty Parlor with your daughter, affix a pair of googly eyes under your hair about three inches above your neck. Ask your daughter to make a French braid and when she stops in shock, say, "Oh! Did you find the eyes in the back of Mommy's head?" Also, opening the refrigerator just to look and see what's inside will be kept to a minimum if the food stares back at them. The list of googly-eyed gimmicks is endless. The following is just one example meant to open your eyes to all that potential.

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6. It's Only a Phrase. Cultivate saying, "We'll see," as an answer to everything. Maybe hold up a pair of goggly eyes when you say "See." This will teach your child to have hope, but also not to be disappointed if something doesn't happen. The world is not clear-cut, or full of yes or no answers; it's a "We'll see" life. Isn't it? (However, if they ask, "Is Walt Disney my Dad?" The answer is a resounding "Yes!") Another helpful phrase is "Because I said so." This is a real motivator for them to grow up fast and have kids of their own so they can have a turn to say, "Because I said so."

7. Saved by the Bell! Have an old dinner bell lying around? (Nobody eats dinner together anymore, so surely, you must.) Give the bell to your child and tell her whenever she wants you, just to ring it. You can start this ritual on sick days when her throat is sore, but eventually incorporate it into daily life. This will stop the frequent ear-shattering shouting of "Mom!" that echoes across most households. When you've had enough of the bell, simply say, "Who do you think I am? Your servant?" (Note: This can work effectively with your husband too. Give him the bell at night when he's in bed and you have insomnia and are wandering aimlessly around the house. You'll never miss those moments when he's feeling frisky—he'll give an efficient jingle. Too tired for a little somethin'/somethin'? Just respond, "What am I? Your sex slave?" It will be clear as a bell the party's over.)

8. Works of Art. Of course, everything your darling makes in grade school is worthy of a huge fuss. So, by all means, frame it, hang it, magnetize it on the fridge (just don't cover up crucial list in # 2!) and show the masterpieces off to friends and neighbors who come to visit. But, when they're in middle school and your house is completely overrun with "Rembrandt Rubbish," ceremoniously toss everything in the garbage, citing that Martha Stewart said that was OK as long as you took digital pictures of everything.

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My Picasso drew this self-portrait after telling her teacher that her mom writes blogs teaching parents how to make their kids crazy. I gushed over my little one's use of vivid colors, then promptly gave it to the garbage man.

9. History Repeats Itself. Tell them that when you were younger and misbehaved, your mother (their grandmother) told you, "One day, you'll have a child as naughty as you are, so you'll know how it feels." Explain that since this has obviously come true, it means Grandma is a witch and can put a family curse on them as well.

10. Is it cold in here, or is it just me? Take a tip from Jewish mothers and make your child wear a sweater whenever you feel chilled. It's wonderful for menopausal moms; everytime a hot flash hits, you can rip your child's sweater off and fling it on the floor in annoyance. "Just looking at you in that thing makes me perspire!"

That's it! Just be sure and tattoo a registered trademark symbol on their arms that gives proper credit (where credit is due) so the therapist knows who to thank for putting her kids through college. I am partial to, "Neurotic behavior by Mom," or "Think I'm nuts? Check out who raised me."

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