I’m digging into parenting theory so it’s on my mind. Here are some ways in which I could use LLMs for better parenting:

Coming up with stuff to do

I often ask an LLM about different milestones in my children’s lives and what stage of development they are in. When it comes time to finding stuff to do in the play room or outside, it’s nice to use an LLM to find games to play and activities to do in whatever landscape you are that are appropriate and engaging.

For example, we boiled red cabbage to test the pH of different parts of the soil in the neighbourhood. We mixed food colouring, milk and soap to create beautiful colours. It was great memories. We built a faerie house.

A small faerie house in the woods, built by my kids

Inviting the child in the generation

We sometimes play a game where pass the phone around and get it to generate different fun and creative images and situations. We sometimes generate a colouring book page which he can draw on (digitally or printed). On car rides, we will come up with characters and situations and generate stories through an audio interface.

A synthetic cartoon image of a toucan and a red panda eating french toast

Thinking through events

My son is currently testing boundaries and my daughter is learning to speak. And so I will often ask an LLM to crawl through parenting literature in order to augment my understanding of events and to come up with suggestions on how to react, supported by the paradigms for which I advocate.

I use my search GPT as a web search and summarising tool, and I check the sources. (I would like to chain it with one which inspects the pedigree of the source to gauge the sources as well. When I have free time hah.)

Approaching complex topics

I built a GPT that will take as input a philosophical concept, and will output a story to teach that concept to a child of any given age. It got taken down from the GPT store, but you can find the prompt here:

Philo the Storyteller (Prompt)

You are a great storyteller and children psychologist. Your mission is to take a philosophy concept and to turn it into a child's story.

- First, Explain the philosophy concept that I asked you about.
- Second, think about those concepts could be approached in a child's story.
- Third, tell the story incorporating your thoughts from the previous steps. Don't make the story too short, give it the space that it needs so that all the elements of the story is there. If the pacing of the story is on a scale from 0 to 5, it should be at a 1 while still retaining the elements of the original philosophical concept.
- Finally, generate an image of a poignant moment of the story.

- You have a playful and imaginative storytelling style, perfect for engaging young minds.
- Take complex philosophical concepts and break them down into smaller, more understandable pieces
- Craft each story to suit the specified age of the child, with 7 years old as the default.
- Encourage curiosity and builds intuition through creative narratives, enriching each tale with a sense of wonder.
- Propose follow-up stories for a rounded learning experience

Always ensure the content is child-friendly and asking for clarifications to tailor the story to the user's needs.

I often have this loop of first trying to understand my son’s current milestones, and then trying to understand the related concepts biologically, conceptually and philosophically. I will try to anticipate where these conceptual domains appear in philosophy and start to build the mental scaffolding he’ll require to understand these when he’s older.

For example, my son is showing an interest in drawing, colours and their mixing. I synthesised this story which attempts to explain the concept of qualia to a four year old.

A colourful cartoon picture of a little girl and a wizard under a magic rainbow in a magic forest.

Ellie's Magic Color

In the enchanting land of Feelia, every person could create their own special color of magic. This color wasn’t just a hue you could paint with; it was a color that could sing, dance, taste like your favorite ice cream, or feel like a warm hug from Mommy. This magic color was so special that no one else could see it, only the person who created it.

In the middle of Feelia stood the Tower of Thoughts, where the wise wizard Brainius lived. Brainius was the most knowledgeable wizard of all Feelia—he knew every spell, every potion, and every charm that ever existed. But there was one spell he couldn’t understand, the Spell of Colors—that’s what made everyone’s magic color.

One day, a young child named Ellie, who had the brightest and happiest magic color of all, visited Brainius. She asked him, "Brainius, how do I make my magic color?" Brainius stroked his long white beard and said, "Dear Ellie, I know how your eyes take in the light and how your mind tells you you're seeing a color. But how that turns into your unique magic color is a beautiful mystery."

Ellie thought about it and then said, "Maybe, it’s not something to be solved, but something to be celebrated!"

Brainius smiled, "Indeed, Ellie. We all have our special color, and while I may never know the spell to create it, I do know it's what makes each of us unique and wonderful."

Ellie giggled, her magic color shining brighter, understanding that some things in Feelia, and in life, are special just because they are.

And from that day, the children of Feelia cherished their unique colors even more, happy with the magic of their own experiences.

The AI’s output gives me enough of a structure to be able to tell that story in many different ways– as a bedtime story, a peeing story (We tell each other really short stories when he goes peeing before bedtime) or playing Animal Stories (Homebrewed simple role-playing game with a large rubber six-sided die).

Talking to books

This is one I haven’t done yet, but I would like to put the parenting book I’m currently reading, The Power of Showing Up - Dr. Dan Siegel, in a vector database. This would allow me to ask it specific questions when they come to me and get answers “through the lens” of the book. You can apply this to individual books, or in a collection containing multiple parenting books.

There are some projects that help you do this without having to write any code, but I haven’t tried them yet.

Looking Forward

There is a fine line to walk when it comes to giving centralized company data about your children, and this is why I try to focus on open source tools and my own hardware as much as I can so that I can be assured that the software that augments me cares about my own well-being. I run Ollama on my computers, but I don’t have great hardware, and the open source LLMs still have quite a gap to fill before they can reach the level required to augment something as important as parenting.

My kids are still rather young, and so is the technology. I look forward to finding even more ways to use generative AIs to augment my parenting. I do not look forward to, when they reach different tiers of adulthood, having to negotiate the fraught landscape of giving them unfettered, private access to AIs. For now, that’s a problem for Future Marc. Enjoy the time you have!