Twenty-three pieces of (good) advice

— Parents: don’t buy the idea that your children “go through a phase” when they misbehave. If you do, your kids will try to get away with murder until they are in their “senior-citizen phase.”

— Parents: don’t let your children say “I want” whether it be cereal, Cabbage Patch dolls, or motorcycles. But this means that you, too, might have to take the word out of your vocabulary.

— Partners: don’t accuse your partner of having changed. Of course, he or she has. So have you. What you are really complaining about is that your partner is developing a mind of his or her own.

— Parents: Want to cut down on friction with your children? Give them two choices on everything from what to wear to what to eat or do. (Story before or after bath? Carrots or potatoes? snowsuit or wool pants?).

— Partners: Do not refer to your kids as “my children” in front of your partner.

— Partners: Do not tell him or her (or anyone else) to “relax” when they are upset. It will upset them even more.

— Parents: Do not dangle dessert as reward or punishment. If your child is not hungry let her or him leave the table (but do not call back for dessert).

— Partners: Never say, “What you should do is…” You might say: “ I would do it this way” or “Have you considered…?”

— Partners: Do not run down you partner’s parents no matter what the provocation. Your partner can do it; it’s different when you try.

— Men: Understand that most women like sex when everything is calm, clean, and friendly.

— Women: Understand that most men like sex even when they’re mad, sad, or angry.

— Men: Consider that most women like declarations of love during sex.

— Women: consider that many men want to concentrate on what they’re doing and will make declaration of love before (and sometimes after) sex.

— Adult children: don’t agree with everything your elderly parents say. Fight with them occasionally; it keeps the juices flowing.

— Parents: Never hit a baby because it is crying. It is crying because it is in need of something. Hitting will make the baby give up hope.

— Parents: If you must hit your child, do it when you’re angry. But discuss your anger later.

— Men: Don’t ridicule you partner’s need for emotional connections (telephoning, talking, writing.) This is the stuff that makes your relationship good.

— Women: Try to accept your partner’s inability or reluctance to express feelings. It’s a male disease. (Praise your boys differently.)

— Parents: apologize to your children if you have been wrong (every time!).

— Parents: If your child uses a swear word you do not like, first explain the meaning of the word, then give the reason for your objection.

— People: Cats scratch when you do something they don’t like, not because they are unreliable.

— People: Dogs have a sense of fairness. If you are unfair, you will break their spirit.

— People: do not criticize other people’s religion unless you can demonstrate beyond a doubt that your God has made you into a perfect person.