When I was a kid, we did things that probably would have landed my parents in jail if they were raising us today: we never wore seat belts, helmets didn't exist, and rocks and pieces of sharp metal were sometimes used in place of toys. The concept of constantly watching over us was unthinkable, and we spent countless hours unsupervised.

While I understand that many of today's "new parent rules" regarding child rearing are designed to protect our kids from harm, I think it's fair to say that things have gotten a bit out of hand. I would even go so far as to say that in many instances we are doing our kids a disservice by not allowing them to stand on their own two feet and learn from their mistakes. Kids will miss out on valuable life lessons if we are always there to shelter them, especially in light of the fact that we cannot always be there for them, nor should we be.

Good parenting is a complex balancing act where parents must straddle a line between safety and simple common sense rather that blindly adhering to a set of rules. With that in mind, maybe it's not a bad idea to just break the rules a little, or at least bend them. Here are a eight that are, in my opinion, worthy of mention.

1. Never Swear Around Your Kids

Your kids are probably more well versed in profanity than you care to admit, especially since they're in school and spending time online. Plus, we all let an occasional f-bomb fly now and then (I know I do). Rather than turning a blind eye to it, maybe we're better off acknowledging profanity exists while teaching our kids when they shouldn't (or should) use it.

2. Avoid All Junk Food

There is no question that junk food is unhealthy, but it's hard to avoid. Practicing moderation is a good opportunity to allow our kids some enjoyment while also teaching them about nutrition and dietary restraint. Kids who are completely denied junk food will find a way to get it when we are not around, and then they will binge on it.

3. Hypocrisy is Always Bad

Hypocrisy is a bummer, no doubt, and nobody likes a hypocrite, but what parent is not guilty of it now and then? Adults benefit from being older and wiser, and some of the mistakes we have made (and continue to make) are opportunities to learn from them so that our kids won't repeat them. A good example is a parent who smokes but discourages their kids from smoking; hypocrisy, no doubt, but is it really so bad?

4. Always Put the Needs of Your Kids First

This is not always good for parents and kids, alike. Kids need to prepare for a time when they get into the real world and people are not as accommodating as Mom and Dad. Plus, parents make constant sacrifices for the good of their kids, sometimes they have to take care of their own wants and needs, as well.

5. Make Sure They Lose the Attitude

Nobody likes a kid who acts like a jerk, but a little sassiness is often rooted in a level of confidence that will help them navigate the turbulent waters of adolescence. It becomes a question of degrees and knowing when and where to be respectful and have good manners, and when to stand up for themselves.

6. Only Praise Them, Never Criticize

Criticism can be constructive and informative, and when done tactfully can help kids to become more resilient. While there is no doubt that harsh criticism can be harmful, the same can be said for excessive and unwarranted praise. It is important to know that there is a time and place for both.

7. Include Everyone in Their Activities

Kids should have the right to choose their own friends, and parents are not always tuned in to their social dynamic. While being left out is a bummer, not everyone gets along. This is a tricky line to walk, however, because you have to figure out when the choice is based on mean or vindictive attitudes.

8. Let Them Eat Dirt

Okay, not literally eat dirt, but an increasing number of experts believe that today's kids are growing up too clean (Hygiene Hypothesis). This may be linked to the skyrocketing incidence of allergies and immune disorders, problems that are not as evident on farms or in the developing world where dirt is a part of life. Plus, playing in dirt is fun, as long as we clean ourselves up before eating... or visiting grandparents.