Just stop talking.  It's something a new parent couldn't possibly imagine saying to their child as he/she begins to say those first few words.  Those first few words are some of the best moments of your life.  They're followed by 17 years of trying to get them to shut up.

Proof that he never closes his mouth. Photo by Jamie Garrett

Teaching your child the English language is quite the tricky process.  You want them to learn these words but not those words.  You love how they mispronounce a word at first, but the moment comes when they just sound uneducated.  I've become the parent I never thought I'd be... one that tries to keep his child away from bad language as much as possible, even knowing he's hearing them everywhere else outside the home.  There was a time even after I became a parent that I thought I'd be OK watching shows with foul language around my son, Tyler.

The first time you hear him repeat a line from The Sopranos, you start recording The Sopranos to watch at a later time.  The first time you hear him repeat a racially-charged line from Chapelle's Show, you start recording Chapelle's Show to watch at a later time.  Very quietly.  DVR has saved my TV-viewing habits, allowing me to go back when the kids aren't in the room and watch the show I don't want him repeating.

At some point in time, it becomes less about what they're saying, and it becomes more about how much they're saying.  Friends with older kids always tell me to enjoy it now because they won't talk to you when they're teenagers.  Great!!  When does that start?  It's constant.  In the beginning you can partially tune them out and just nod in agreement.  When they begin to learn more about conversation, they begin to expect you to answer with more than wide eyes or a head nod.  For this period feel free to try the, "Oh yeah?", response.  Most of the time when kids are 3-4 years old they're trying to tell you about something that, to them, is amazing.  "Dad, I saw a cat today.  Daddy, I drawed a school bus today."  Just hit them with an authentic-sounding, "Oh yeah?", and about 75% of the time there won't be a follow-up.

Once they get out of that stage, it's all downhill.  The questions start.  Not only do you have to actively participate in a conversation with them, you also have to think and answer questions.  It starts out easy enough, but once the outside world begins to conflict with your reasoning, you'll have some explaining to do.  Suddenly, "God made it that way", isn't a good enough answer.  I understand this is all part of growing up, and I'd rather be the one to explain it to him than one of his friends who gets equally stupid answers from their parents.  Even worse, if your kid walks around spouting off some of the illogical answers you've given him, you're suddenly the stupid parent.