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Ahoy, matey!
Pirate parenting can ease stress of moving

(Nancy LaFever’s humorous interview with Tim Bete, author of Guide to Pirate Parenting and former director of the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop, originally appeared on mymove.comPhotography courtesy of iStockphoto/Thinkstock and Reposted by permission.)

Moving your household is challenging, and such a big change is especially tough on kids. Leaving their friends and starting over in the new home will be an adjustment. So how do you get your kids in the spirit of the move and motivate them to pack up their rooms while also keeping your cool? It’s somewhat unorthodox and may be unfamiliar to you, but one option is incorporating the techniques of Pirate Parenting.

Tim Bete is the author of Guide to Pirate Parenting (you can download the free electronic version or purchase the paperback here.) In his book, Tim and pirate contributor Cap’n Billy MacDougall outline the benefits of raising your kids to be pirates. More than a cool fad, pirating can be an exciting way of life and kids readily take to it. Any lifestyle that eliminates regular bathing and encourages the use of colorful language is an instant hit.

Common pirate activities Tim suggests include turning the minivan into a pirate schooner, packing gunpowder for ye cannons and, of course, plundering. My Move asked Tim how he would use pirate parenting techniques when moving and settling into the new home and neighborhood.

My Move: If a parent has no previous pirate parenting experience, how would you suggest they get up to speed for the move? Is there an accelerated program?

Tim: “The accelerated program doubles the rations of grog each hour until you forget that you decided to move. What happens after you’ve consumed that much grog is anyone’s guess. Drinking while packing is fun, but it often makes it difficult to find things when you reach your destination. Make sure to mark boxes and don’t give into the temptation to get a tattoo of a shark or hula dancer.”

My Move: Let’s say you’ve used the Pirate Parenting Method since your kids were small, but have been a little lax lately. They’ve developed some undesirable landlubber habits. How might you get them back to prime pirate shape for the upcoming move?

Tim: “A night in the brig works wonders, but most parents don’t have a brig. But you do have packing boxes and tape. Quickly fashion a temporary brig out of the boxes and tape. While your kids are doing their time, feed them only hardtack and water. If you’re out of hardtack, feel free to substitute Pop Tarts.”

My Move: One of your pirates hasn’t even started to pack up his room. How do you discipline the little “powder monkey?” Is walking the plank still a viable parenting option?

Tim: “You’ve probably already packed the plank, so walking it won’t be an option. Swabbing the deck is an appropriate punishment. If you don’t have a deck, have your powder monkey scrub the driveway using a toothbrush.”

My Move: Is it ever acceptable for your kids to call the moving men “scurvy dogs?”

Tim: “That’s an awfully kind term for a pirate to use. But if your kids like the moving men, it’s fine.”

My Move: Your Pirate Parenting mentor Cap’n Billy advises a full immersion pirate program for kids including pirate attire with accessories like the standard eye patch. Keeping true to the pirate code, but wanting your kids to fit into the new neighborhood, what would you suggest?

Tim: “First, before you move, make sure to visit your neighbors and retrieve any items they’ve borrowed from you. It’s best to wait until they’re not home. While you’re there, “borrow” any items you think would be useful in your new home. Empty their liquor cabinet, too. The best way to greet your new neighbors is with cannon fire.”

Adapting to Pirate Life

If you decide to embrace Bete’s pirate parenting techniques, you’ll be using a new language. Remember, “Matey” replaces “Mom” or “Dad,” but isn’t disrespectful. Your child may now refer to the top bunk as the “crow’s nest.” Use this lingo to get him to pack his Xbox by calling it “ye treasure chest of gold doubloons.” Just be prepared to put your foot down when he asks to get a parrot after you move.

— Nancy LaFever

Nancy LaFever is a contributor to and pens the blog, Single People’s Grocery Lists. As a freelance writer, she has published more than 150 magazine articles and hundreds of blog posts on topics including fine crafts, business, women’s issues, travel, humor and popular culture.

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