Parenting Hacks Part 2: More Tips and Scripts from a Hacker Dad

As I mentioned in my last parenting post, I’m a hacker and bug bounty hunter. So, I spend a lot of my time improving myself and looking for an edge. As a dad of three, that means learning scripts and tricks that get the desired outcome.

Parenting with a Vision

As a parent, we have to parent with a specific outcome in mind or we’ll lose our way. There are two types of desired outcomes: short-term and long-term.

Desired Long-term Outcomes

The desired long-term outcomes are the most important as they can guide all parenting behavior. These vary family to family, but I’ve put a few here.

  • I want my kids to know they were loved, are loved, and trust that they will always be loved by me.
  • I want my kids to be physically, emotionally, and spiritually healthy.

If you want your kids to know they’re loved, you’ll need to treat them with love and respect. You also need to tell them you love them and are proud of them on a regular basis so they know and believe it.

If you want your kids to be physically healthy, science shows us the most important thing is for both parents to model health to them. If you want them to be healthy emotionally, you’ll need to be vulnerable and talk about your emotions. Ask them how they’re doing regularly (we ask our kids how their hearts are doing every night or two).

Desired Short-term Outcomes

The desired short-term outcomes will vary throughout your kids lives. I recently read an amazing parenting book called Parenting: Getting it Right which broke down these phases extremely well. The ranges may vary some from child to child, but it’s an amazing frame to use for thinking through parenting decisions.

  • Discipline Years (0-5 years old): Compliance
  • Training Years (5-12): Compliance & Understanding
  • Coaching Years (12-18): Understanding & Some Autonomy
  • Friendship Years (18+ years old): Full Autonomy

For example, in the discipline years, the goal is mostly compliance. You will weave in the long-term goals as well, but most parenting decisions are to achieve compliance. This is because safety requires compliance. A two year old doesn’t understand that the road is dangerous or the stove is hot. We discipline out of love to protect them. In this phase, explanations aren’t even required, but are still helpful. They need to listen quickly for their safety.

In the training years, compliance should continue but explaining the why becomes even more important because you want them to be able to abstract out the principles and apply them to other situations. They still mostly need to listen and obey everything parents say though.

In the coaching years, and I think this might be the hardest part, so many parents try to keep up the hardcore discipline. They never allow their child to make low-risk decisions by themselves. This robs the child of learning from failures and begins to erode respect. In the coaching years, try to look for opportunities to say “I would do {suggestion}, but I’ll let you decide.”

Also, in the coaching years, DON’T LECTURE. It’s so tempting to ramble on when explaining a situation. Teenagers will tune you out. Listen a lot. Speak a little.

In the friendship years, many parents continue to give unsolicited advice, often causing frustration. I heard some wisdom around telling your adult children something along these lines: “I am always here to give advice and help you, but from this point, I’ll mostly bite my tongue unless you ask.” This seems so healthy to me. I’m sure I’ll fail at it sometimes, but it shows so much respect and love.

Roleplay Everything

There are so many things we know as adults that we take for granted. Kids often don’t know how to do the things we do. Here’s a big list of awesome things to roleplay. Your kids will enjoy the act of playing with you, and they learn SO MUCH by doing it.

  • If you want your kids to behave better at restaurants, practice it at home during dinner.
  • IF you want your kids to sleep better, practice going to bed and staying in bed in the middle of the day.
  • If you want them to know how to introduce themselves to a stranger, practice at your front door by pretending to be a new person.
  • [From Gracie Bullyproof program] If you want them to know how to handle bullies, pretend to be bullying them at home. Teach them how to use their voice to stand up for themselves by speaking loud and authoritatively. Teach them to say things like “I don’t like that” and “That’s mean. Don’t say it.”

Invite them into work at a young age

One thing that my wife and I started doing this year was inviting our kids into our housework. It’s been such a game-changer. They’re little, they make it harder, and it takes a lot longer. But the benefits are well worth it.

First, and probably most importantly, it takes time normally spent separate from them and turns it into spending time with them. Second, it helps them learn a skill they don’t have. Third, it shows them that we trust them to help, which builds the relationship. Fourth, it gives lots of opportunities to compliment them. Fifth, it creates a positive association with work. They aren’t immediately complaining about work or asking to be paid for helping. They’re simply being a part of the family unit.

Rapid-fire tips

I don’t have time to cover every small tip in detail so these are some rapid-fire tips. If any don’t make sense or you want my take, just tweet or DM me.

  • Be careful how much you talk about your kids in front of them. We don’t do this to each other as adults.
  • Be easy on the amount of sarcasm we use as parents. As adults, we have a much stronger grasp of sarcasm. Kids don’t. If a child isn’t vocalizing their confusion, you have no idea if they understood the sarcasm or if they took it as truth.
  • Overreacting often leads to hiding the behavior rather than changes in behavior.
  • Compliment your spouse to your kids. It’s modeling love, and it makes them more secure in their parents love for each other.
  • Get interested in whatever your kids are interested in.
  • Take more videos than pictures. Hearing their little voices and seeing their mannerisms is priceless.
  • Don’t be afraid to apologize to your kids when you’re wrong. It teaches them humility and that it’s okay to make mistakes.
  • Remember to take time for yourself. Parenting is hard work and it’s important to recharge so you can be the best parent you can be.
  • Lastly, enjoy every moment. They grow up fast and you’ll miss these days when they’re gone.


Personally, I find scripts to be one of the most useful information from parenting content. For that reason, there’s no way I could post a part 2 of this series without some good scripts we’ve been using. Many of these also came from “Parenting: Getting it Right”.

  • “What do you think?” [Literally EVERY TIME they ask a question. It teaches them critical thinking and helps them find their own voice/opinions]
  • “Hey {name}, I have a question for you. And you might be tempted to lie, so think about what you’re going to say before you say it. Remember, we always tell the truth.” [Before we ask if they did something against the rules]
  • “You’re always safe with me. Our home is a safe place. You’ve slept in this bed over 1,000 times. Has anything bad ever happened?” [When dealing with bedtime fears]
  • “Uh oh! Sorry isn’t a sentence. What are you sorry for?” [When they only say “sorry”]
  • “I’m sorry that I {action}. Is there anything I can do to make it up to you?” [When modeling forgiveness, show them how to repair the relationship]
  • “It’s just a season.” [As a mantra to yourself or a spouse]
  • “Don’t bail, let ‘em fail” [As a mantra to yourself or a spouse for remembering to let them learn from their mistakes]
  • “I can see that you’re really frustrated. Would you like some help or do you want to try again on your own?” [When they are struggling with a task]
  • “Everyone makes mistakes, it’s how we learn. What can we learn from this?” [When they make a mistake]
  • “We’re a team. We help each other.” [To foster a sense of unity and cooperation]

Closing thoughts

As with last time, I really hope all of the above is helpful. Same disclaimer: every child is different, so your mileage may very.

Parenting is a journey, not a destination. It’s about learning and growing with your children. It’s about making mistakes and learning from them. It’s about love, patience, and understanding. Remember, you’re not just raising kids, you’re raising the next generation of adults. So, parent with a vision, roleplay everything, invite them into work at a young age, and never stop learning.

Parenthood is the greatest adventure and gift. AND it’s really hard, but it’s an incredible blessing. For those of you with kids, thank you for deciding to be parents. I’m hoping you “enjoy it just a little more.”

- rez0

For more of my thoughts on hacking and other stuff, follow me on twitter.