This strange thing happens as your kids get older.They show you that your illusions of control are just that- illusions. As parents we do all we can for our kids. We try to instill our values, provide an education that actually teaches them to think for themselves, and keep them healthy. One of the hardest things I have to do as a parent is be the bad guy.
The bad guy enforces the rules and enforces consequences. Life would be so simple if good parents didn’t have to ever be the bad guy. I wish I could coddle, excuse their failings and make life easy for my kids and they would magically become self reliant, responsible humans capable of making the world a better place.
Good parents are bad guys.
On December 23rd I found out our eldest son had been lying to us all week. He uses my old iPhone 3 as a touch (no service for kids in this house. I survived without a cell, so can they) and he told us for 3 days that he couldn’t find it. As it turned out, it was in his room and he was just tired of his little brothers running down the battery.
Dang, I thought, now I have to deal with this?
Good parents are bad guys when they have to be, right? I knew I had to come up with some sort of memorable consequence because lying is serious. The more you get away with lying, the more you lie.
All the boy wanted for Christmas was the iPhone 4 when I had the 4S. He dreamed of using the new photo apps on the 4 and the cool video editing software. The iphone 3 mocked his dreams of new cooler apps.
I hid the fact that I had the 4S for days. I told Siri to hush and kept little hands away. I knew that Christmas morning would be the perfect time to teach him just why lying doesn’t pay off in the end.
I scribbled a short note in the 4S case and waited.
“If you had been honest you would have the 4 right now, you big doof!”
When he saw the case he knew I had the 4S and that would mean he would receive the 4 as his big gift.
Luckily, he took it like a man. He laughed and said, “Aw man, I blew it! Why did I ruin it?”
We let him know that when he builds up a trust level with us again, he can have the gift that had to be delayed. We aren’t sure when that will be, but we’ll all be relieved when we get there.
In the mean time, his 4 little brothers can be seen carrying the 4 around the house taking 900 pictures, tons of hipstamatics and hours of retro looking videos of absolutely nothing. Every single thing reminds him why lying doesn’t pay off.
When he isn’t frustrated about the whole thing, he admits that he deserves it and I did the right thing. “Yeah Mom, if you didn’t want me to be a man one day, you’d have let it slide” he says with a shrug.
I won the battle but I’m still fighting the war. Parenting is not for sissies!
How about you? Any stories from your childhood of tough love? How are you handling the pressure of keeping kids happy with beingthe bad guy for their own good? I would love to hear!