Stand-up comedian Jerry Seinfeld shot to international fame in the eponymous sitcom Seinfeld, which he co-created. More recently, he co-wrote and starred in the animated Dreamworks film, Bee Movie. He also created and hosts the popular online series, Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee. He and his wife, Jessica, have one daughter and two sons. They founded Baby Buggy, now the GOOD+ Foundation – a non-profit organisation that ensures economically disadvantaged parents have what they need to raise healthy children.
1We should teach kids to be tough
Life is hard. Kids aren’t protected in the real world in the way they are at home. Seinfeld’s solution? Skateboarding.
During a conversation with fellow comedian and actor Chris Rock, Seinfeld said: “To learn to do a skateboard trick, how many times have you got to get something wrong until you get it right? And you hurt yourself. And you learn to do that trick, now you’ve got a life lesson.”
As far as Seinfeld is concerned, when he sees kids skateboarding, he thinks they’ll turn out ok as adults.
2They shouldn’t feel entitled
Seinfeld is very conscious that it would be easy for his kids to feel entitled. Along with many other celebrity parents, he’s aware his children could see his success and status as an easy pass to whatever they want in life. He has a straightforward way to nip this in the bud: “You know what I say when they ask if ‘we’re’ rich? I say, ‘I am. You’re not.’” Simple!
3Always remember you’re their role model
Kids look to us to learn their behaviours – something we sometimes forget. Seinfeld knows simply telling a child to act a particular way or have a certain value is unlikely to work. Kids don’t subscribe to the ‘do as I say’ theory.
“Kids are watching how you deal with that waiter or that handyman, and they are more likely to imitate you,” he says.
4Offer to help
The number one rule for being a good father and a good husband, according to Seinfeld, is to ask your partner, “What can I help you with?” as often as possible. Ideally, until you’re told to stop.
“You don’t know what needs doing, but there’s something,” he says. He also suggests that if your partner is holding anything, grab it from them (unless it’s a telephone or a glass of wine).
5Write down those funny sayings
Kids say the funniest things – but then we forget what they were. Seinfeld’s suggestion is to buy a blank notebook especially for the purpose and write down every funny saying. When they’re older, your children will appreciate knowing about their younger selves.
“You won’t be able to remember them all. I filled a book and the kids love to hear it. ‘When you were five, you said this…’,” he says.
6Meditation helps you keep calm
Seinfeld has practiced transcendental meditation for more than 40 years. He credits it with helping him manage those borderline moments – when you feel your temper might snap.
“Meditation gives you those crucial extra seconds to gather yourself,” he explains. “It’s an actual physical change in the brain. Instead of a reflexive moment of anger, you might be able to go, ‘Well, let me not do that right now.’”