Advice on Raising Me

May 18 2013

I received a message this week from a new reader. She wrote:

My daughter shares the same name as you. Beth Woolsey! What are the chances? I thought for sure my Beth was the only Beth Woolsey in the world.

And I thought, “Finally! A namesake!” After my brother and his wife named their first daughter after their mothers, I figured their sisters’ names were shoe-ins for the next kids. Katie Beth? COME ON. Isn’t that the sweetest? But no. They thought their boys should have more masculine names. Whatever.

Now, though? The world has rewarded my patience with another Beth Woolsey. Thank you, world. Sometimes you’re a real jerk, but every once in while you do something outrageous and rad. Like the platypus. And bacon. 

Then I thought, “Oh, mama… raising a Beth Woolsey, huh? Good luck.” So I wrote her this letter. To be helpful.


Dear Mother of Beth Woolsey,

You have a Beth Woolsey! CONGRATULATIONS!

Now, I know that just because we share the same name doesn’t mean we’re the same person or anything. But, just in case, I’d like to offer you some unsolicited advice. Little tips. Insights, perhaps. Things you might want to know.

Based on my experience, I’m certain your daughter is delightful, witty, friendly, compassionate, and a joy to everyone around her. She may also be given to teeny, tiny bouts of rage and a penchant for being kinda mouthy, but let’s ignore that for now.

Here are 5 Quick Tips for Raising a Beth Woolsey:

1. The missing tubs of frosting are under her bed next to the wall with the Holly Hobby wallpaper. You have to reach around the leg of the bed frame to find them, but there is a lot of chocolate back there, so it’ll be worth your while. Bring graham crackers. She’s out.

2. She will learn to wear underwear with dresses but not before the infamous Flip-up Friday incident of her 3rd grade year. It’s not your fault. You tried.

3. She’s only going to sneak liquor from you once. Buying only Scotch and crappy wine in a box? Good strategy. Seriously brilliant. She’ll think she hates drinking for years.

4. Try not to stress out too much about all the lying. Yes, it’ll get out of hand in the 5th grade but by the time she’s 19 she’ll stop all on her own.

5. And finally, when she’s 8 and she buys your Mother’s Day gift with her only $2 bill? The special one she loves and has been saving? And then you secretly buy it back for her? That one’s going to stick with her her whole life, mama; it’s the little acts of kindness that usually do.

Beth Woolseys can be a handful, I know. But you can do this. You can. And she’ll be incredibly grateful you did.

Wishing you all the best,
Beth Woolsey

P.S. Woolsey is technically my married name. If any of you out there are raising a Beth McDonough, take cover.

P.P.S. I feel bad about ratting her out in #1. How about we forget I said anything and let her keep the frosting?


DadsasterAnd, P.P.P.S, I’m on the latest Dadsaster podcast this week, weighing in toward the end about whether or not dads deserve the bumbling idiot stereotype. (SPOILER: nope.) Listen in, and — free tip — DO NOT MISS THE BEAR STORY AT THE END. It’s worth it just to hear the bro-worship in the telling; I dare you not to smile. Dadsaster: a podcast by dads, for dads. You can read more about Dadsaster (and about my kids pooping in my front yard) here.


So. Think back on your childhood.
What top piece of advice would you give to someone raising you?
(I might be a little too giddy as I look forward to your self-disclosure.
I showed you mine…)


“Old Letters and a Quill” image credit to Simon Howden via