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  • Writer's pictureAllan Shedlin

It Should be No Secret How to Be A Good Parent in 2024

Updated: Jan 18

By Scott Beller

Daddying Editor

Granny's Holiday Cookie Bars

My mom made the best holiday chocolate chip cookie bars. Every year since I was in high school, maybe earlier, she'd make a giant batch and gift them to family, friends, coworkers, anyone who looked like they needed something sweet in their life. My stepbrother and I would compete to get the biggest tin of those amazing bars and hope we'd have enough to enjoy them until the New Year rolled around. If one of us ever felt short-changed, Mom would just make more.

Once I had kids of my own and they were old enough, a holiday season highlight was for them to stay the night at Granny's house to help her with all her baking. One year, I urged her to write that special cookie bar recipe down. That way, whenever our supply dwindled, the kids could make their own and we wouldn't have to trouble her for a refill.

Christmas of 2019 was the first time the kids and I had to use Granny's recipe on our own. The results were not great. Although the flavor was right, the bars were much thinner and gooier. Of course, none of that stopped us from enjoying every last one of them in her memory.

Getting it just right

A year later, I once again tracked down Mom's secret recipe while the kids prepared the baking supplies. With step-by-step, handwritten instructions laid out before us, we commenced preheating, measuring, pouring, stirring, and occasionally sampling a chocolate chip or two, determined to get it right this time. As we folded in the chips, my wife noticed something interesting featured on the package. The recipe for the "classic Toll House" cookie bars was almost exactly the same as my Mom's coveted and time-honored "secret recipe." The only difference was that Mom had doubled the recipe.

This memory comes back to me every time we enjoy a holiday season treat and puts a smile on my face. But this year, it hit me a little bit differently. With two daughters now in high school – one starting to drive and explore plans for college – parenting seems to be getting more complicated. When the girls were babies and toddlers, we all moved, more or less, in the same direction. The kids went wherever mom and/or dad went and decisions on where/when to go and what to do were made mostly by us. Protect and love them, feed them, change them, teach them, entertain them. We had it DOWN and were (mostly) in control.

Dad with the assist

Now that the kids are making more decisions for themselves and becoming more independent, we navigate an ever-shifting sea of schedules, emotions, responsibilities, and activities. All the while, like trying to join a high-speed game of jump rope Double Dutch, we're on lookout for just the right time to interject our wisdom and be a parent...without getting smacked over the head.

So, as the New Year, and another crew and soccer season, and college applications, and campus visits, and much, much more come rushing towards us, we've set our 2024 resolution-setting aside to focus on one thing: keep parenting simple. That's right. While it may seem like there must be some special recipe to being the "perfect parent," there isn't one. There are no secrets, no hidden tricks, no magic words to say.

Most importantly, we all know that there are no perfect parents. The "world's best" Mom and Dad don't exist. That's not to say we shouldn't strive to do the best we can for our kids and earn such a title in our own households.

Allan has conducted hundreds of interviews, focus groups, and workshops with dads, granddads, and kids from around the world and it all boils down to a few simple things: Be there. Listen to your kids and take them seriously. Do what's best for them. That's it. It's not just what kids need, it's what they say they want.

We purposely created the Daddying blog as a place where dads and moms of all backgrounds could come tell their own stories of triumph, remorse, anxiety, revelation, loss, hope, and more. Our intention has never been to prescribe exactly what to do, but to show others they are not alone in their struggles to be the dads/parents they want to be. Of course, there are many, many routes to achieving that, and you may not succeed on the first or even 50th try. But we absolutely encourage you to keep trying!

So, in 2024, try to keep it simple. Oh, and have a cookie. You deserve it and that resolution to cut back on sweets can surely wait.


Scott Beller is the proud, imperfect dad of two mighty girls, imperfect husband of a rock-star mom, truth teller, former soccer coach and current equipment hauler, part-time driving instructor, photobomber, purveyor of banned books, Editor of the Daddying blog, and Director of Communications for DCG and D3F. He's a seasoned writer and PR agency veteran with more than 30 years of experience helping organizations of all sizes reach audiences and tell their stories. Prior to launching his own creative communications consultancy in 2003, he led PR teams with some of the world’s most respected agencies, including Fleishman-Hillard and The Weber Group. As a consultant, he’s helped launch two other parenting advocacy nonprofits with DCG founder Allan Shedlin. His first book, Beggars or Angels, was a ghostwritten memoir for the nonprofit Devotion to Children's founder Rosemary Tran Lauer. He was formerly known as "Imperfect Dad" and Head Writer for the Raising Nerd blog, which supported parents in inspiring the next generation of scientists, engineers, and creative problem solvers. He earned his BA in Communications from VA Tech.


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