Popular parenting movements like free-range parenting hearken back to a time when kids were free to be kids. But maybe they don't go far enough back? Instead of spending money on pricey parenting-advice books, we can take a (virtual) page out of Oregon Trail, the beloved MECC game that occupied 97% of our childhood computer usage. Oregon Trail-style parenting is sure to sweep the nation faster than a cholera outbreak. You too can follow these easy steps to create a family as close-knit and well-traveled as our pioneering ancestors of yore!
1. Make sure your kids learn about firearm safety.
If you're going to have a gun on the premises, it's important to teach kids about responsible firearm use. And what could be a more responsible use of a firearm than running at a tree while shooting wildly in all directions?
2. Always have a well-stocked pantry.
At any given time, it's best to have 200 pounds of food on hand for each member of your family. You never know when the trail to the grocery store is going to become impassable, so it's best to play it safe. And the best part: you'll never have to hear your kids whine "Mooooom, I'm hungry!" ever again, because they know if they do, they'll be directed to the giant pile of hardtack and jerky.
3. Name your kids whatever you like.
Named after beloved Great-Uncle Boogerbutt, of course. It's an old family name.
4. "Hands-on" is the best way to teach kids about science.
Take the anti-vaxxer mentality to its logical conclusion by treating your kids to their own exciting cases of measles, cholera, and typhoid fever. Literally nothing is more natural than drinking water tainted with feces--the only true paleo diet.
Also, I'm bad at knowing what's irony and what isn't. But is it ironic that the child I named 'Poo' came down with dysentery immediately after we set out to Oregon, or is it just coincidental?
5. Two outfits are enough.
I don't care what the cool new fashion trend at school is, everyone in the family is getting exactly two sets of clothing apiece. And they're all overalls. Deal with it.
6. Make sure your kids have lofty career aspirations.
Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be farmers. Farmers die tragically trying to float their wagons across a monster river faster than you can say "I don't have any money left to pay the toll." Instead, try to get them interested in something else from the wide variety of career options out there, like carpentry. Or banking. Or carpentry. Or maybe banking.
7. Under no circumstances should you let your kids name the livestock.
Oxen appear to snap a leg every five steps, and it's a lot harder to put down Old Bessie than Ox #5.
8. Don't look gift food in the mouth.
If you didn't plan anything for dinner, it's fine to feed your family whatever food or food-adjacent items you find lying around outside. What could possibly be wrong with eating a horrific mutant 20-pound fruit that you find lying on the side of the road? (I'm sure a habit of eating random and vaguely scrotum-shaped objects you find in the woods has nothing to do with your family's case of dysentery that just doesn't seem to quit.)
9. Hoarding is a way of life.
Teach your children the joys of insatiable hoarding! You never know when you might need an extra wagon tongue (whatever the hell that is), and looting other people's wagons (a.k.a their houses) for more spares when they don't seem to be home is totally on board, too.
10. Reading as a family can be fun.
But only in small doses--say, tiny pixellated gravestones engraved with poop jokes.
(All images from my Oregon Trail play-through on the emulator available at the Internet Archive)