Let’s face facts: Children today are dumb, ugly, and fat. Some blame television, single parents, or fast food, but the real reason is much simpler: we can’t beat our children anymore. Sure, you want to lay into little Junior with a flashlight, but it’s now verboten. No sir. Straight to prison. That’s why the future of child abuse isn’t physical, it’s psychological.
Constantly inflate and crush their hopes.
Dad: Merry Christmas, Suzy! [Gives present]
Suzy: I love you daddy!
Suzy: [Opens present to reveal dead possum] AHHHHH!
Dad: What? I thought you wanted a Playstation!
Give them compliments that aren’t really compliments; this will confuse them in lieu of building self-esteem.
Mom: [Affectionately] Oh Suzy, you’re looking so ironic today.
Suzy: Thanks. I think.
Mom: And little Timmy! Don’t you look just like a little Prussian?
Timmy: Um… yes?
Give them patently false information.
Timmy: Mom, what’s a homosexual?
Mom: Where in the world did you hear that word?
Timmy: In Sunday school, Pastor said being homosexual is a sin.
Mom: Well Timmy, a homosexual is someone who’s under 10 years old.
Timmy: But I’m only 9! Does that mean–
Mom: I’m afraid so.
Timmy: [Starts to cry]
Mom: You know, crying is like punching Jesus.
Expose them to emotionally scarring situations.
Timmy: Daddy, where are we driving?
Dad: Well son, we’re going to a really magical place.
Timmy: Is it a teddy bear picnic?
Dad: Kind of.
Timmy: Are the teletubbies–
Dad: It’s a porno theatre.
Timmy: Why are we driving through the woods to get there?
Dad: So we can hit some animals on the way.
Timmy: [crying] So…many… Playstations.
Make subtle references to horrible fates that may befall them.
Suzy: Dad, can I have a dollar for ice cream?
Dad: No, I think you should work for that dollar. That way, the ice cream will taste even sweeter!
Suzy: OK. Maybe I could… sell lemonade?
Dad: Lemonade? I was going to say white slavery, but no, your idea’s good too.
Suzy: White slavery?
Dad: Yeah… lemonade works.
Puncture their cheery worldview with shards of your broken dreams.
Mom: And then they returned to the castle and lived happily ever after.
Timmy: And then what?
Mom: And then the princess made off with the prince’s stereo, which she traded for some maaagical fairy dust.
Timmy: I don’t get it.
Mom: You know the princess spent six months upstate after that? Six months.
Mom: Well, mommy’s going to go and pick up her medicine at the 24-hour pharmacy.