Every so often, a character on a TV show comes along that almost instantly earns pop culture icon status, and Ron Swanson of Parks and Recreation (played to perfection by Nick Offerman) is definitely one of them. With his stoic demeanor and perpetually furrowed brow (oh, and that rad mustache), Ron Swanson remains a powerful presence in the collective unconscious years after Parks and Rec's final season. There's so much to learn about life from this anti-government government employee, even when it comes to raising kids. But can you really use parenting hacks from Ron Swanson on your own children?
Of course! Of course you can borrow a page (or several) from the Ron Swanson playbook when faced with everyday parenting challenges. True, he didn't become a father himself until almost the end of the series, but Ron's trademark wit and wisdom (not to mention his unparalleled practicality) applies to so many situations moms and dads need to navigate. And you can be sure that any kid raised the Ron Swanson way will grow up to be super independent, self-sufficient, and possibly extremely (secretly) wealthy. Make no mistake: Ron Swanson is not what you'd call a helicopter parent. Nor would he ever say he was part of the "free range" movement, mostly because to Ron Swanson, "free range" would sound suspiciously like something hippies made up. No, Ron Swanson's parenting style is more of a "childhood as bootcamp" approach, with just enough humor and warmth to make it work (like, without causing emotional damage).
Whether you're a Parks and Recs fan or not (but isn't everybody?), these Ron Swanson hacks just might make your life as a parent a whole lot easier. Or at least funnier.
1. Don't Be An Ass
This is the kind of advice every parent needs to give their kid at some point, although, depending on the age of your child, you might want to modify the language a bit to something like "Don't commit to more things than you can handle" or "Pick one thing and give it your all" or... you know what? Just say what Ron said. They'll get it.
2. Make Honesty A Priority
Ron Swanson, a notorious straight-shooter, considered lying to be the coward's way out of a jam. Let it be known that lying will not be tolerated in your home (and really, maybe get rid of the skim milk too, because yuck).
3. Teach Kids About Consequences
Every parent has had the experience of watching as their kid is about to make a really, really bad decision (whether that's climbing up the bookcase or not studying for a test or giving a sibling a shove). Stop them in the act and remind them of the potential consequences... if they don't listen, well, that's on them.
4. Keep Expectations Low
Hey, you can't say yes to everything all the time. It's true that having to constantly turn your kids down when they ask for a toy/treat/more screen time/a puppy can get tiresome, but they sure do appreciate stuff more when rewards are an occasional thing.
5. Share Their Interests
Keeping up with kid culture can be baffling at times and boring at others, but if you really want to connect with your child, it helps if you know a little bit about the movies and books and toys they're always chattering about. Just get used to being told you're wrong, a lot.
6. Set A Good Example
If you had your way, sometimes dinner would be a glass or two of wine and a cupcake or three. But because kids need to see their parents modeling healthy habits, sometimes that means walking the walk even when you really, really don't want to.
6. Don't Get Suckered Into Volunteering For Everything
Why does it seem like every other day your kid comes home from school with another paper in his backpack asking parents to volunteer for the bake sale or the book fair or the class field trip or the car wash? I'm not saying you should never help out at your kid's school, but let's face it, you're busy enough. And can you picture Ron Swanson selling brownies?
7. Praise Good Behavior
Teachers and child development experts have a saying: "Catch them being good." That means when your kid does something right, even if you didn't ask them to, be sure to point it out. If you really were Ron Swanson, you'd reserve this kind of praise for a particularly successful woodworking project or an expertly prepared steak.
8. Prepare Them For The Real World
Ron Swanson knew that kids are never too young to learn about such basic life skills as money management. He'd probably be fine with letting a toddler use a hammer and saw, too, but you might not want to go that far.
9. Warn Them About Potential Dangers
The world is full of things that can hurt your kid, from tabletops with sharp corners to electrical outlets to grapes that haven't been cut in half. Forewarned is forearmed, as the saying goes.
10. Spoil Them From Time To Time
Since saying no all the time is your Ron Swanson-inspired M.O., it'll really make your kid's day when you surprise them with a present out of the blue. Just make sure it's some kind of gadget that's been irrelevant for a couple of decades.