OK, I'll come clean here. I have no skills at all as a parent. In some way, I'm amazed that my children have turned out as wonderful as they have. I never helped them with their homework, stating they'd learn nothing unless they did it themselves. When my daughter was a youth swimming champion, my missus did all of the early morning runs, trips to gala's around the country and beyond, as I was too lazy to get up. My excuse that I was working and had to be fresh and focussed was in truth a very poor one. I've no idea how a hoover works or how to load the dishwasher and woe betide anyone who suggests turning over the football for Strictly or the Simpsons in our house. But strangely enough the kids have turned out well. Here are my top ten tips for those with no parenting skills to get a successful outcome. Before you start saying this is sexist, at least four of these tips were given to me by a female friend, who confided in me that she thought she was a lousy mother.
1. Find a partner who has marvellous parenting skills, enough to make up, in abundance for your lack of them.
2. Get a dog. It's a great way to escape when things are kicking off - "I just need to walk the dog". Take the dog to the pub, have a couple of beers and then return. Usually things will have quietened down. As you've walked the dog, you can claim you've done something useful. Your kids also think you are the best Dad in the world for five minutes, when the puppy arrives. Which means that for five minutes in your life, you know how decent parents feel.
3. Always forget your kids birthdays. That way they'll never be disappointed. Sounds crazy? Well because you have a wonderful partner they will soon realise and make sure that the presents are bought. If you try, sooner or later, you'll fail and the kids will get nothing and hate you forever.
4. Learn to cook amazing Sunday dinners. You will be amazed what you get forgiven for when a delicious Sunday roast appears on the table.
5. Always let your partner attend the School parents evenings on their own. As you are a rubbish parent you have nothing to contribute and when you announce "I didn't know XXXX was doing geography, how are they getting on" it reflects badly one everyone. You haven't got any sensible feed back to give anyway.
6. Never make your children promises. You are a rubbish parent. You will forget. They will resent you. Give them surprises instead, they will then think you are amazing.
7. Never be the first to get up. If you are, you have to deal with everything, which you are ill equipped for and will only screw it up. Get up when the morning is in a good swing. You may think you are being helpful getting up, you are not, you will just get in the way.
8. If you have something you share an interest in with any of your children, make the most of it. If you like football and only one out of three does, don't feel guilty. That's just life. It's not fair and they need to get used to it. I've learned that if you feign an interest in things you find mind numbingly boring you will end up looking like an idiot and embarrassing your kids. Your kids know your an embarrassment, so don't subject them to any unnecessary ordeals.
9. Make damn sure that you keep enough money aside to have wonderful holidays. You may be a crap parent, but if you ensure that they have great memories, over time they will realise just how lucky they were.
10. Make sure you let your partner and your kids know you love them more than the world and would through yourself under a bus for them. Because when it comes down to it, that is really the only job you need to do and if you do that successfully, you really are not a bad parent at all!