Wednesday, August 28, 2013

What Not to Say

As a parent, you're supposed to provide wise council, words of inspiration, and thoughtful discipline. The key word here being supposed. Really, you're just figuring it out as you go along. In the heat of a conversation you'll toss out the same cliche lines your own parents used. They didn't work then. They won't work now.
Here's a few things you shouldn't bother to say.

"If all your friends jumped off a bridge, would you jump off a bridge?"
Because 1) the answer is obvious 2) the action you're discussing isn't a life or death matter 3) if it is, you shouldn't have to bring in the bridge. Death is already at stake. Then 4) there are so many better answers.
No, really, look.
 "Because I'm the Parent!"
Yes, and they're your offspring. Now that you've got that sorted out, come up with an argument. This is no more sophisticated than an is/ain't argument. And your son knows it.
"I Gave Birth to You!"
You daughter never asked you to give birth to her. That was your own choice. She doesn't owe you for concieving her because she had no control over it. I suppose you could get technical with this- "I didn't abort you as a fetus! Be grateful!"
Wait, that was an option? Quick way to make her hate you.
"I Own This, I Can Take It Away!"
The moment you convcieved/adopted/chose not to abort your child, you became a parent. That position, like any government position, means you have responsibility. Yes, you also have rights, but they only come when you fulfill that responsibility. It's your role to provide food, water, clothing, shelter, nurturing, protection, and love.
When you take something away, be it love, a favored toy, or Internet access, you cease to be viewed as a hero in the eyes of your teenagers. You have rights with no responsibility. You are a dictator. When this happens on a large scale, we get revolutions.

Especially when that something is a material possession. Remember, John Locke's original words were "life, liberty, and property". People like their stuff. Don't be surprised when taking it away provokes a rebellion, and don't blame them for rebelling, because that will only stoke the flame.
Also, if your son buys something himself-a phone, a car, a sandwich-it's his property. You have absolutely no right to confiscate it.
Any Kind of False Humility.
Go ahead, get tramped by a rhino
Go ahead, get mugged and left for dead
Me, I'm just your mother, what do I know?
I only bathed and changed and nursed you
Go ahead and leave me, I deserve it
Let me die alone here, be my guest
When it's too late, you'll see - just wait
Mother knows best!

Why shouldn't you try this? Because Disney villains always die at the end. Don't be a Disney villain.
"I'm the Parent! You Can't Tell Me What to Do!"
Actually, your daughter can tell you whatever she wants. You don't have to listen, of course, just like she doesn't have to listen to you.
You don't have to listen to this post either. But now you won't forget it.


  1. Ooooh...what a post!

  2. I like some of the things you point out. But honestly, your daughter doesn't have to thank you for giving birth to her? Of course she does! No offense, but you gave birth to her! Without you she wouldn't be here! It doesn't matter that you didn't actually really design her, you still made her, and you could have chosen not to make her.

    But I agree with everything else. Especially the taking away of stuff. My parents almost never take away stuff, which is why they're awesome.

    I always believe that any problem or disobedience can be solved by patient and calm talking out. Kids deserve to have their opinions recognized, no matter at what age. It's the best way to teach them responsibility and that their thoughts matter. They're not animals to be whipped into submission or ordered about. They're not completely wild creatures to be set completely free either. It's a little bit of both. Tell them what to do but be open for comments.

    Great post. I really enjoyed it!