Almost anyone can raise a well-adjusted child. But, to truly screw up a child, you must have a cheat sheet. Take a perfectly good kid, practice these 12 behaviors and watch them grow into completely ineffective adults.
Speak in superlatives
Always tell them they are the prettiest, the handsomest, the smartest, the most athletic, the most artistic, the most talented. This way when they grow up and discover they are mediocre and have to actually work at something, they can blame you in their very expensive therapy sessions.
Let them interrupt
No matter who you may be having a conversation with, no matter how important or time-sensitive, always, always, when your child tugs on your shirt-sleeve and says repeatedly, "Scuse me. Scuse me. Scuse me." Make certain you stop mid-sentence and admire her for her politeness and give her your full attention. After all, nothing you have going on could possibly be as critical as your child needing to say something.
Always take his side of the story
If a teacher discloses in a conference that your child is failing, it must be the teacher's fault. If the coach tells you that your child will warm the bench, he must have been remiss in his coaching duties. If all evidence points to the fact that your kid stole those CDs, but your child denies it, then all evidence must be circumstantial. Always believe your child and ignore the good intentions of those who proclaim to care about him.
Never let them fail or look bad
Finish up that Pinewood Derby car, that science project, that speech, that term paper. After all, it would be harmful to their little psyches to allow them to fail or be embarrassed.
Keep him up with the Jones'
Make certain your child has everything his friends do. Get him upgrades as soon as they come out. Keep him the envy of all his peers. Never let him be ashamed that he doesn't have the latest and greatest.
Protect him from all harm and pain
Run interference for him if you see trouble coming his way. Keep him in knee pads, helmets and training wheels. Forbid climbing in trees, on monkey bars and, for heaven's sake, no high dives at the pool. Use antibiotic everything. Keep the temperature at an even 70 degrees. Never, under any circumstances, let him play in the dirt.
Make a life plan now
Figure out what you think she should be when she grows up and stick to that, no matter what. Direct all his energy and free time into being the best at that vocation. If he cries or resists, just keep telling him it is for his own good. After all, you know best.
Criticize the adults in their lives at the dinner table. Tell them what a lame job their teachers, counselors, coaches and other authority figures are doing. Teach them to be critical about everyone, as well. Just don't be surprised if the criticism turns out to be about you.
Give your kids full disclosure into all the intimate details of your life. Tell them all the stupid and dangerous things you did as a kid. Then tell them about how rocky your marriage is. Ask them for advice. Tell them if you're worried about losing your job. Share with them your fear of not having enough money. Don't forget any detail. Have a nice, open relationship.
Cover your bases
Tell him what to do and what not to do, but cover your bases for when he disobeys. Tell him not to drink, but when he does, to call you. Tell her not to take drugs, but when she does, to let you know. Tell her to abstain from intimate relations, but give the protection just in case. Mixed messages like that are a great way to keep him guessing about his own choices.
There you have it. A comprehensive list of ways to take a perfectly normal and emotionally healthy child and turn him into a lifetime project.