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It will also help reduce the future impact of your parenting mistakes. Hang out with your little kids, doing nothing in particular, often. They can spot a disingenuous parenting move from a mile away.

This accommodates their different tastes, their wildly different appetites, and the college-dorm-like-hours their appetites seem to keep.

Now that everyone satisfies their own appetites for the most part, we enjoy very pleasant meals together with lots of sharing and bonding. Start apologizing to them from the moment they show up in your arms.

Finally, we want them to come to us when they blow it big time — because big time teen mistakes happen and the stakes are so much higher than when your toddler drew all over Grandma’s car with a permanent marker.

Modeling apologizing and forgiveness from such an early age that it becomes second nature will make it easier for your teens to come to you for help.

And I rarely ever think about what I will be feeding them next. “Mommy’s sorry she had that Tequila before she knew you were coming.” “Daddy’s sorry he can only think of the lyrics to 90’s sitcoms when you need a lullaby.” “Mommy’s sorry she had a conniption when she found the contract she worked on for 3 months torn into little pieces and floating in the toilet.” You understand.

But, seriously — don’t talk in the 3rd person like I just did after they’re about four months old. Teens, more than perhaps anyone you will ever know if your life, need to hear us apologize.

They need to know that, like them, we are flawed and, often unlike them, we can own up to it without provocation. They need to see us struggling because they are struggling and all of their friends are struggling and we are their beacon of hope.