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Interview with <i>Real Housewives</i>' stars Alex McCord and Simon Van Kempen: What Do They Know About Parenting?

How do you teach your children that money is not the most important thing?
SV:
When I was a boy, we were poor when it came to money, but rich with the things we did. That's important.
AM: When I was growing up, we generally had more than most, less than some. Now I am adamant that your personality should not be affected by the zeros in your bank account. I don't want to be friends with people just because they are wealthy, and I try to impart that to the boys.
SV: Francois and I talk about it, but he hasn't quite mastered it yet. I try to tell him that money isn't a bottomless pit, and that it has to be earned. He wants to buy a BMW. I asked him, "How will you get it?" and he said, "I'll have to work for it." But it's still abstract to him.
AM: Once he said to me "I want to have 6 kids." And I reminded him that he'd have to work very hard to support them. It's a balance. When he wants to buy a toy, we explain that it costs money -- not in a prohibitive way but in appreciation.

Do people tell you that the boys are spoiled?
SV:
No!
AM: Sometimes the fact that I work upsets Alex. He says, "Why don't you come to school lunches like the other moms?" And I tell him, "My working allows us to do what we do and have what we have." What's your day like?
SV: We leave the house at 8:15 -- we take turn taking the boys to school -- and we get home at 6:15. We choose to participate equally in everything; we both do all the work.

What the most surprising thing about parenting?
AM: How much fun it is. How much work it is. I was a night owl, and I never thought I'd be up at 5 in the morning, without an alarm. But now I need to get up to get things done.

Quick, -- your five best parenting rules.
1) Trust yourself -- your body and your instincts. There is no right or wrong way to parent. Don't read What To Expect When You're Expecting. It will scare the bejesus out of you.
2) Believe in tough love. Children expect boundaries
3) Maintain a sense of humor and don't expect perfection.
4) Be present. Don't text on your Blackberries when you are with your children.
5) Enjoy! Don't work your life away. Don't miss it!

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