Before he was the heir to David Letterman's Late Night throne, Stephen Colbert was the nation's favorite conservative blowhard (non-2016 GOP Primary edition). And before that, he was a little-known improv comedy savant with a weirdly stable family life for a guy paid to make other people laugh. Does that mean his thoughts on parenting are as insightful as they are funny? Yes, yes, it does, but it still comes from the gut.
On What He Learned From a 6-Year-Old
"Our third child had just been born, and my wife had just about had it. So, I said, 'Go out with friends, and I'll watch the kids for the night.' And five minutes later, all of them were crying, and I was yelling, and my daughter said, 'Why are you yelling at us?' And I said, 'I'm trying to discipline you!' And she looked up at me with her tear-stained eyes and said, 'This is how you teach your children, by making them cry?' She won not only the argument, but she won life with that statement. I just burst out laughing, and I think they were so surprised that I burst out laughing, they did too."
On the Apple Not Falling Far From the Tree
"For a solid year, Madeline and I made up jokes on the spot before she went to bed. One of hers was 'What did the cow say? 'What?' 'Ruff.' 'Why?' 'He had a dog in his mouth.'"
On Calming a Freaked-Out Kid With Humor
"It helps defuse sad or tense situations. It's hard to laugh and cry at the same time. If my son scrapes his knee, I'll say, 'You seem to have scraped your ear very badly.'"
On TV Time
"During the week, the kids are allowed a half hour a day. On the weekends, when Mom and Dad try to sleep in, all bets are off. I've instituted a new rule that when commercials come on, my daughter has to press 'mute.' Otherwise, Peter falls into a trance: 'I want that. I want that. I hear, and I obey.'"
On the Challenge of Child Rearing
"Never underestimate kids' tenacity. Raising a child is like wrestling a small but relentless opponent."
On How to Win Arguments
"You can't beat children in a logic battle. Their simple minds are better at it. Go with what adults are good at: tyrannical authority."
On Getting Them to Eat Vegetables
"Want to get your kids to eat vegetables? Accept that waffles are vegetables."
On Nutrition in General
Any child's meal — breakfast, lunch, or dinner — can be improved by the addition of a toaster waffle.
On Staying Positive
"I was 22 or 23 when I made a decision not to be actively Hamlet-like and miserable in my daily life, and the decision helped a lot. Living vitally is not easier than living morbidly — it's just better. People are all we've got."
"The 12-year-old still seems to like me. That's nice! I think all three of them like me, but I've got two teenagers, and a 12-year-old. He's within months of being a teenager. Then it's all over. Then my wife and I might as well live alone."
The "Other Colbert" on Making Mistakes
"You can't spell 'parentry' without 'try.' Of course, you'll make a few mistakes. The important thing is that the mistakes you make with your kids are the same ones your parents made with you. At least you know how those turn out."