by Robert MunschIt’s supposed to be sentimental, but it might be the prequel to “Psycho”. Premise: the baby is a typical rampaging boy, unraveling toilet paper and creating havoc. Yet every night his mother cradles him and sings: “I’ll love you forever, I’ll love you for always.” It should have ended there. But the boy becomes an adult with a wife and kid…and a mother who drags a ladder to his house, climbs in his window, picks him up and continues the lullaby. A lesson to mothers of sons: Know when to take a step back.
by Jane AustenThis is not just a love story about a girl who gets her man. It’s also a story about a girl who escapes her parents. With a mother whose sole purpose in life is to marry off her daughters and a father who hides in the library and issues sarcastic one-liners, Elizabeth needed to get out of the house. Lesson here: Do not micromanage, and do not forget your children. That seems easy enough. Oh, and spend some time in the same room as your significant other to remind yourself they exist.
by John IrvingSteps to follow: 1) Do not have an affair with your daughter’s babysitter because he looks like your deceased son. 2) Do not then abandon your daughter while she is with said babysitter at the beach. It might make for a great soap opera, but not a very well-balanced kid. The daughter did become a writer, though, so maybe there’s something to be said for the tortured artist’s life.
by Stephen KingWant to know the perfect foil for Clark Griswald? Jack Torrence. Honestly, though, I’m pretty sure I’d go crazy cut off from the world in an abandoned hotel with my family all winter. We all know the Jack Nicholson face frozen in the snow at the end of the film adaptation. Lesson here? Pick a beach instead, and get at least eight hours of sleep every night.
by J.M. BarrieYou can name a dog “Nana”, but that does not make it a nanny. If you can go off to the opera, you can afford to spring for a human babysitter. Although, in hindsight, with parents like that, the kids may have been better off in Neverland. Parents, let your kids be kids. And knowing they are, supervise accordingly.
by Charles DickensBetween an abusive sister and an escaped convict, Pip never had a chance. But it was Miss Havisham that did him in. With dating advice like, "If she favors you, love her. If she wounds you, love her. If she tears your heart to pieces – and as it gets older and stronger, it will tear deeper – love her, love her, love her!", it’s amazing Pip survived Estella at all. Just because someone jilted Miss Havisham at the alter does not mean she has to take the world down with her. We all have those dark dating stories that bring on a touch of PTSD, but we also know better than to pass it on to our children.
by William GoldingA plane full of kids from a boarding school crashes on a deserted island. Bonfires, tribes, and war ensue. We all know kids are wild. Never leave them unattended, or they will turn savage. Always travel under adult supervision. Enough said.
by F. Scott FitzgeraldDaisy Buchanan is a doozy. She might be the “green light” for Gatsby, but if she’s grooming her daughter to be “a beautiful little fool”, then she needs to gather up some self-respect and a serious reality check. Girls have enough problems with self-esteem, and there are definitely enough fools in the world. Let’s teach our kids to have plenty of the former, and not to be the latter.
by Richard YatesFrank and April Wheeler are Mad Men’s Don and Betty Draper if they’d never made it to the big city. High ambition plus dead ends leave two adults acting like children, all while forgetting their own. It’s a cautionary tale about mid-life crises set in the suburbs, and it proves self-centeredness doesn’t work in a family.
by William ShakespeareEver the professional at family drama, Shakespeare hits it big with this one. A king is ready to retire. Time to parcel out the kingdom. What better way to take everyone down with you than to pose the question, who loves me most? It will surely lead to poverty, madness, and bloodshed. This is sibling rivalry and bad parenting at its finest.