Rahm Emanuel’s Guide to Down-to-Earth Parenting

Backward: A Purim Spoof

Published March 04, 2009, issue of March 13, 2009.
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Papa Emanuel: Chuckling over Knuffle Bunny with his colleagues.
Papa Emanuel: Chuckling over Knuffle Bunny with his colleagues.

Rahm Emanuel is the tough-but-fair, no-nonsense chief of staff for President Barack Obama. He is also a former chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

The loving husband of Amy Rule and father of three small children, he’s taken lessons he learned in the rough-and-tumble world of politics and applied them to the challenges of fatherhood in his new book, “I Made You, I Can Break You Just as Easily: Lessons on Parenting From Inside the Beltway.”

Although Emanuel may have faced tough questions working at the White House and in Congress, we bet he’s never faced anything tougher than these questions from our readers!

Dear Rahm,

Our boys are 2 and 4 and always seem to be pushing the limits. They take each others’ toys, throw things around and open closets I’ve specifically told them not to, all the while grinning cheekily at me. What should I do?


Dear Perplexed,

This boundary pushing is perfectly normal. Kids, and especially boys, are always testing the borders. You just have to set and reinforce reasonable rules and make clear what penalties they’ll suffer for transgression. As I tell my kids, “I can cut off your access. I can cut off your b—s. I made you and I can break you, so don’t make me f— you up.”


Dear Rahm,

My little 6-year-old daughter is very shy and finds it uncomfortable to mix with others at her new school. How I can make it easier for her?


Dear Worried Dad,

Going to a new school is always hard: a new environment, new people, new rules. What would really help is for you let your daughter know you are there for her, to talk through her problems and help her solve them. You can sit down with her and isolate the social divisions in the community and discuss ways to game them so that she can be queen bee. Help her understand that she shouldn’t be afraid to kneecap a few troublemakers to set an example, and that it is better to be feared than to be loved.

After all, this is your daughter’s happiness we’re talking about.


Dear Rahm,

I feel as if I never see my family anymore — my husband’s always at work and my three kids are growing up and have their own lives. What can I do to keep my family a family?


Dear Sad Mom,

My father used to say, “The family that eats together, stays together.” But that’s not always a practical solution.

Maybe your husband is really busy trying to save this f—ing country for Barack, and maybe now is not the best time for your touchy-feely bulls–t. Maybe you should pick up the phone instead of writing to newspapers, Amy. Don’t f— this up for me. I may not have made you, but I can still break you.


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