The Perfect Parents Handbook

The Perfect Parents Handbook

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The Perfect Parents Handbook by Jennifer Conlin

With a classification system that has every parenting style down to a 't', The Perfect Parents Handbook is unputdownable reading for anyone who's ever forked over major three figures for the "must have" stroller or agonized over what their children's school says about them as parents. The real facts and details in this book gently skewer modern mothers and fathers and will at the same time delight them with dead-on accuracy in describing the habits and accouterments of nine types, including:

—The Neo-Trads: Dad makes the cupcakes and kids' artwork is everywhere (not just on the fridge); the family's taste always exceeds its wallet

—The Martyr Parents: They've sacrificed so much for the kids that the kids have taken over the asylum

—The Power Parents: The IV sessions that led to triplets were coordinated on mom and dad's Blackberries and the real British nanny swabs the babies' Burberry button-downs on the way to their five bedroom Park Avenue apartment

—The Classic Parents: Everybody's in LL Bean and their 2.3 children all climb into a little red wagon to get to the SUV

Laced with titillating facts about our child-centric culture (unique baby announcements! nursery decorators! mandatory volunteering at preschool!), The Perfect Parents Handbook decodes the complex and terrifying (smothering doulas! educational vacations to the rainforest!) world of raising kids.,

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780312329914
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication date: 10/03/2004
Edition description: First Edition
Pages: 224
Product dimensions: 6.14(w) x 9.21(h) x 0.48(d)

About the Author

Jennifer Conlin is a writer whose work has appeared in a variety of financial and parenting publications, including The New York Times. She was on the original staff of Manhattan, Inc. magazine and is in the midst of raising three children.

Read an Excerpt

The Perfect Parents Handbook

By Jennifer Conlin, Steve Galvin

St. Martin's Press

Copyright © 2004 Jennifer Conlin
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4668-5312-6


Choosing Your Perfect Parent Group

From the moment you contemplate parenthood, it is impossible not to wonder, "What kind of parent will I be?" You may suddenly find yourself scrutinizing the lifestyles of your friends, relatives, work colleagues, and neighbors who already have children. Subconsciously, you are trying to determine what your parenting style will be once you too become a mommy or daddy and enter today's image-conscious parent pack.

Perhaps you are hoping to combine motherhood and career, like your overachieving cousin, who not only manages her two kids, nanny, housekeeper, chauffeur, and husband, but also runs a nationwide string of successful baby-bath boutiques. Her children are always impeccably dressed and well scrubbed with a gentle cleanser made from cardamom seeds. How does she do it? What a Power mom!

Or maybe you hope to be like the "stay-at-home" dad in your apartment building who, while taking care of his baby, wrote a best-selling book about being a stay-at-home dad called "Daddy Dearest." Now he has an au pair from Croatia who takes his two-year-old to every child's exhibit, puppet theater, zoo demonstration, and musical workshop he can find within a two-hour radius. He is still a "stay-at-home dad," but now he has no child at home most of the day and can work uninterrupted on his latest book, "How to Write Professionally about Parenthood." What a Hip dad!

With the help of the "Perfect Parent Group Guide" listed below, you can now determine ahead of time which parent group best suits your individual style, well before you actually have a child.

Readers who already have children will easily find versions of themselves in one of the nine parent categories outlined below. Simply match the clothes you and your children are wearing now with those in the various photos, check that the criteria listed describes you, and you're set!

Whether you choose to join the Classic parents, Hip parents, Power parents, Sporty parents, Neo-Traditional parents, Bohemian parents, Euro parents, Martyr parents, or Paranoid parents, this guide will help you organize child rearing for the next twenty years, starting with conception. Each Perfect Parent group, of course, has its own "parentally correct" views of how everything should be done (including getting pregnant). Once you become a Perfect Parent, you'll learn to be judgmental about the way other parents do every little thing too.

Joining the wrong sports league can get you banished to the bench and make it impossible to compete, and it's no different in the world of parenthood. Do not go out of your league! Some groups require more income than others — especially with more than one child — and without adequate resources you will find it impossible to keep up with the competition.

One final warning ... if at any point you fail to keep up with your group's standards of "Perfect Parenting," do not be surprised if you suddenly find yourself surrounded by another, less respected, family group ... the Slacker group. This parent group is so embarrassing they do not even warrant a family photo in this handbook. The Slackers are epitomized by the fathers who drop their child off fifteen minutes late for a birthday party and then realize they have forgotten to bring the present. They are the mothers who volunteer on only one school committee each year, and never serve as the chairperson. From time to time, you may even hear a Slacker parent shout at their kids in public!

(Note: Gay parents and single parents should not be put off by the traditional family examples in the guide and should simply choose their group disregarding marital status or sexual preference.)

Classic Parents

FATHER: Dressed in Gap khakis, a forest green L. L. Bean V-neck sweater, a Ralph Lauren plaid shirt, J.Crew jacket, and Timberland docksiders. They are headed to the annual "Fall Foliage Family Picnic" with all his wife's relatives to celebrate "Nana's" ninetieth birthday at her Cape Cod compound.

MOTHER: Dressed in L.L.Bean green corduroy pants, Tod's loafers, a gray Ralph Lauren sweater, and a quilted Burberry jacket with the sleeves rolled up to show the trademark plaid lining. She is wearing David Yurman earrings, a pearl necklace, and a Cartier tank watch.

TWELVE-YEAR-OLD SON: Dressed in beige Brooks Brothers khakis, Tommy Hilfiger sneakers, a Brooks Brothers button-down shirt, and Gap sweater. Carrying an L.L.Bean canvas bag belonging to his mother with a gift for Nana inside — a silver-framed picture of the entire clan taken at last year's autumn picnic.

EIGHT-YEAR-OLD SON: Dressed in the same shirt and pants as his brother, wearing a Gap down vest and Nike sneakers. Carrying a football to throw with his first, second, and third cousins in preparation for the late-afternoon family touch-football game.

SIX-YEAR-OLD DAUGHTER: Sitting in a Radio Flyer steel and wood wagon, dressed in Ralph Lauren jeans, a blue Norwegian print sweater, white Talbots shirt with Peter Pan collar, and blue rubber boots. She is carrying Samantha, one of the six historically accurate American Girl Dolls, and has a plaid grosgrain ribbon tied in her hair.

BABY: Dressed in white Gap shirt, L.L.Bean fleece suit, and a cable-knit hat knitted by Nana that is ceremoniously passed on to the youngest baby in the family every year at the annual picnic.

BABY TRANSPORT: A Kelty-Kids Country Backpack, $154.95.

DIAPER BAG: Navy blue Kate Spade, $215.

WHERE THEY LIVED UNTIL THEIR SECOND CHILD WAS BORN: In a two-bedroom apartment on Beacon Hill, Boston.

WHERE THEY LIVE NOW: In an old, historic, clapboard house in Wellesley, Massachusetts.

WHAT THEY DO: He is an investment banker, avid fly fisherman, and former Princeton lacrosse team captain. She went to Rollins College and worked for three years in home decoration at Ralph Lauren before getting engaged. She now works part-time as a floral designer for events held by her friends in the local garden club and helps organize the annual Historic Homes Christmas Tour in her community each year. She also serves as a board member on the Citizens Committee, which honors local civic volunteers each year at a Spring Ball.

WHAT THEY DRIVE: A silver Volvo cross-country station wagon and a Lexus SUV.

WHERE THEY VACATION: Their beach house in Nantucket each summer. Their ski house at the Stratton Resort in Vermont every winter.

BIGGEST PARENTING CHALLENGE: Making the kids behave during the Christmas party at the country club with the grandparents.

COLLEGE GOAL: Harvard, or at least one of the family alma maters.

You can join the Classic parents if:

A. You have a family christening gown that is at least three generations old.

B. You feel children should never address adults by their first names, unless they are aunts, uncles, godparents, or the family's housekeeper.

C. You love the idea of the whole family wearing matching Lilly Pulitzer bathing suits.

D. You can afford to have more than three children.

FAMILY LOGO: Trusted Labrador.

Hip Parents

FATHER: Dressed in a Burberry leather jacket, gray Gap T-shirt, vintage Levis, and black Italian leather bowling shoes. They are on their way to a Dim Sum restaurant for Sunday brunch.

MOTHER: Dressed in Burberry combat pants, Etro top, Mont Blanc sunglasses, and a belt and necklace she designed herself.

EIGHT-YEAR-OLD SON: Dressed in Quicksilver Trousers, a Paul Smith long-sleeved T-shirt, and Nike shock shoes. He is riding his Razor scooter.

SIX-YEAR-OLD DAUGHTER: Dressed in the same outfit bought by Nicole Kidman at Pipsqueak, a downtown children's boutique in New York City, during a trip there for a film opening — a plaid Chinese-style shirt, velvet flared pants, matching scarf and hat. Also wearing cool orange eyeglasses, and carrying her new Bratz doll, named Jade.

BABY: Wearing Oilily pants, leather booties, a pink Kenzo shirt, and an orange-pink-and-cranberry-striped hat bought at an urban street market that she keeps pulling off — a baby fashion "no-no."

BABY TRANSPORT: The Bugaboo Stroller, $699.00.

DIAPER BAG: Anya Hindmarch, $750.00.


WHERE THEY LIVE NOW: A modern house designed by Richard Neutra with lots of floor-to-ceiling plate-glass windows in the Hollywood Hills.

WHAT THEY DO: He attended NYU Film School and is now a successful screenwriter. She is a former model who now designs chunky jewelry for her celebrity friends.

WHAT THEY DRIVE: A Mini Cooper they cram the kids into during the week. The silver BMW SUV on the weekends.

WHERE THEY VACATION: Their ranch in Park City, Utah, where the Sundance Film Festival is held each winter; a house they rent for one month in Tuscany each summer with another Hip family, where they all cook together with local ingredients.

BIGGEST PARENTING CHALLENGE: Keeping their kids in the public school system.

COLLEGE GOAL: Harvard, or at least a top film or art school such as Rhode Island School of Design, Parsons School of Design, the Illinois Institute of Art, New York University, or the University of Southern California.

You can join the Hip parents if:

A. You have media connections to get your kids featured in major ad campaigns.

B. You plan to introduce your children to Vietnamese food as toddlers.

C. Your worst nightmare is for your kids to turn out politically conservative.

D. You will keep up with trends and only let your child wear hand-me-downs if they are considered "vintage."

FAMILY LOGO: Creative Eyewear.

Power Parents

FATHER: Dressed in a hand-tailored suit made in Hong Kong, white Hermès shirt, Hermès tie, and custom-made John Lobb shoes. Holding his BlackBerry wireless communication device.

MOTHER: Dressed in a black Armani suit, white Paul Smith blouse, black Gucci pumps, and Alain Mikli tortoise-shell glasses. She is wearing a Pasha tank watch and the earpiece for her top-of-the-line video cell phone.

TRIPLETS: Dressed in Burberry baby shirts, playing with various sterling silver Tiffany toys — a teething ring, silver rattle, and silver cup.

NANNY: Dressed in plain, loose-fitting, nondescript, boring clothes that hide her figure.

BABY TRANSPORT: Triple stroller specially bought from in England, and hauled back on the plane (by her husband's secretary who was in London on vacation), to save shipping costs, $550, not including airfare.

DIAPER BAG: Her Louis Vuitton work tote since she would not be caught dead carrying a diaper bag, $950.

WHERE THEY LIVED UNTIL THEY HAD THE TRIPLETS: A three-bedroom apartment on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.

WHERE THEY LIVE NOW: A five-bedroom apartment on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.

WHAT THEY DO: He attended the State University of New York in Oneonta and Harvard Business School and is now the president of a Fortune 500 company that has something to do with scrap metal. She went to the University of Pennsylvania and Yale Law School and is a corporate lawyer who will continue to work, at least part-time, until the triplets are in middle school. She will then focus on running their charitable foundation and micro-managing her children.

WHAT THEY DRIVE: A Porsche Carrera for the Power parents and a Porsche Cayenne Turbo SUV for the nanny, who follows behind them in the SUV with the kids on the weekends.

WHERE THEY VACATION: Their mountain house at The Yellowstone Club, a private Montana ski resort with only 850 members, all with a net worth of at least $3 million who pay $250,000 to join, $16,000 a year in annual dues, and must own property. Their beach house in East Hampton each summer.

BIGGEST PARENTING CHALLENGE: Teaching the children how to handle their extreme wealth.

COLLEGE GOAL: Harvard, or at least Yale.

You can join the Power parents if:

A. Your ideal family vacation would be bringing the kids to a Young President's Organization meeting at the Greenbriar Resort.

B. You have your own skybox to donate at the school auction.

C. You would feel uncomfortable turning off your cell phone during your child's violin concert.

D. You would never have children unless you were sure you could afford live-in help.

FAMILY LOGO: BlackBerry Device.

Sporty Parents

FATHER: Dressed in green cotton sweatpants, Nike running shoes, gray sweatshirt with the word Coach printed on the front, and a baseball cap. He is carrying a clipboard holding the team roster and has his whistle at the ready.

MOTHER: Dressed in Nike jogging shoes, a Nike jogging jacket and pants, holding a tray of orange slices in one hand for snack break.

EIGHT-YEAR-OLD SON: Dressed in a Little League baseball outfit and cleats, ready for the big All-Star tryouts.

SIX-YEAR-OLD DAUGHTER: Dressed in soccer outfit with shin guards and cleats for the state championship.

BABY: Wearing baby sneakers and a baby Columbia sport fleece suit.

BABY TRANSPORT: The Baby Jogger stroller with a nylon basket underneath to store extra sporting equipment, $200.

DIAPER BAG: The Land's End Deluxe, $35.00.


WHERE THEY LIVE NOW: In a house in Portland, Oregon, across from the local college athletic facilities.

WHAT THEY DO: He was on the ice hockey team at Colorado College and now owns and runs the local franchise of "Play It Again Sports" when he is not coaching his kids. She was captain of the water polo team at Colorado College and now teaches kickboxing, cardio-aerobics, and spinning classes at the local health club. She is also the parent manager for her children's community league teams.

WHAT THEY DRIVE: A mud-covered Suburban that fits all their sporting equipment, and a few kayaks on the top.

WHERE THEY VACATION: At family sports centers so they can keep up the kids' training. In Florida for baseball-training camp at spring break.

BIGGEST PARENTING CHALLENGE: Getting along with their kids' coaches, referees, and fellow team parents.

COLLEGE GOAL: To be recruited for a sports team by Harvard, or at least an Ivy League equivalent, such as Stanford, Duke, or Michigan.

You can join the Sporty parents if:

A. You won't mind driving nine hours cross-country to watch your child play for ten minutes in the national championship.

B. You will coach every one of your kids' sports teams until you are banned.

C. You are on a first-name basis with the local sports-injury doctor.

D. You will make your kids' sports a bigger priority in your life than your job.

FAMILY LOGO: Sports gear.

Neo-Traditional Parents

FATHER: Dressed in Nordstrom tweed blazer, Banana Republic olive-green pants, wrinkled Brooks Brothers button-down shirt, and Rockport brown lace-up shoes. Over his shoulder is a backpack containing his laptop. Carrying cupcakes for his daughter's class birthday party that day.


Excerpted from The Perfect Parents Handbook by Jennifer Conlin, Steve Galvin. Copyright © 2004 Jennifer Conlin. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

The Prefect Parents Pep Talkix
Chapter 1Choosing Your Perfect Parent Group1
Classic Parents3
Hip Parents6
Power Parents8
Sporty Parents11
Neo-Traditional Parents13
Bohemian Parents15
Euro Parents17
Martyr Parents19
Paranoid Parents22
Chapter 2Prefect Pre-Pregnancy Parenting25
The Co-Parent Test26
Education Manipulation Number One: Getting Your Unborn Child into a Top Preschool29
The Reproductive Race31
Competitive Conception31
How to Be a Fertility God or Goddess34
Chapter 3The Perfect Pregnancy39
Finding the Perfect Obstetrician40
Perfect Maternity Styles41
How to Pass Childbirth Class51
Nursery Decorating Tips53
The "My Little Star" Perfect Parents Nursery55
The Baby Shower59
Baby Names69
Chapter 4Perfect New Parents71
The Expectant Father71
The Hospital Stay73
Coming Home77
Baby Announcements78
Chapter 5The Perfect First Year83
What Color Is Your Diaper Bag?83
Children's Clothing89
The "Living" Room96
The Play Group100
Chapter 6Toddling to Perfection105
Education Manipulation Number Two: Preschool Prep106
The Playground109
Education Manipulation Number Three: Getting into a Top Preschool111
Test Your Test Knowledge112
When You Move "For the Kids"114
Education Manipulation Number Four: The Independent School Parent Interview117
The Toddler Birthday Party120
Chapter 7Perfect Holidays127
Halloween at Its Most Extreme127
Thanksgiving: The Messiest Meal131
Hanukkah-The Longest Holiday135
Family Christmas Decorations135
The Holiday "Brag-Lib" Letter136
The Family Holiday Card Photo138
The Gift Guide144
The Dreaded Disney Vacation144
Chapter 8Perfect K-8 Parenting151
Family Pets152
The Family Car153
The Sporting Guide159
The Overschedule163
What Color Is Your Lunch Box?168
Homework Hints173
Back to School Parents' Night174
The Family Resort Vacation176
Summer Camp179
Chapter 9Perfect Teenage Years?185
The Best PTA Jobs186
Guess the Mom189
The School Auction191
Test Your Test Knowledge193
The PSAT (Parental Stress About Testing)194
The Adventure Family Vacation195
Pushing Your Child over the Edge197
The "Family" Room199
The College Tour201
The Waiting Game203
You're In!204
Chapter 10Perfectly Fine207
Graduation Day!207

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