The Art of Hypocritcal Parenting (or the Lack Thereof)

On Saturday I made my first parenting decision that was based entirely on the fear of hypocrisy.

I think all kids have little things that they do while their parents are away. Things they know their parents would never approve of.

My parents had set a very strict bedtime for me when I was younger. I had to be in bed by 9:00 PM or there was going to be trouble. What they didn’t know was that I could lie in the hallway near my bedroom and watch TV long after 9:00 PM.

My parents never caught me watching TV late into the night. They also never knew that my sisters and I used to play this game where I would lie on my back with my legs propped up in the air. One of my sisters would sit on the bottoms of my feet and I would launch them high in the air. That practice resulted in my sisters landing halfway up in the Christmas tree a few times like Buddy from Elf. A Christmas season probably never passed where the tree didn’t accidentally get knocked over while my parents were gone.

I had my favorite place where I could sneak up onto the roof and hide under one of the awnings. There were also many races down the stairs while riding on sleeping bags. All things my parents never knew about, and I’m sure Addie has similar secrets that she keeps from me and Casey.

Yesterday I came home from work and heard Casey say to Addie in a very stern voice, “Did you show dad what you were doing?” Addie said that yes, she had shown me. I, meanwhile, was clueless. Casey said, “Did dad really say it was okay?” And Addie didn’t respond.

I asked Casey what they were discussing. She told me that Addie had been running towards the side of the couch and she’d do a full front flip over the arm of the couch and land on her back lengthwise across the sofa. Casey couldn’t believe that I would be okay with Addie doing those types of “gymnastics” on our couch.

Truth is that when I first saw Addie perform the flipping stunt, I couldn’t bring myself to tell her that it wasn’t allowed. My first instinct when I saw her do the flip was to get mad and stop her. It should be obvious that our kids shouldn’t be allowed to do flips on the furniture — she’s not even allowed to sit on the arm of the couch. But I couldn’t get the words out. I just stared at Addie, realizing I would have done the exact same thing if I grew up in this house. It would have been hypocritical of me to tell her not to do something that I knew I would have done myself. It wasn’t like what she was doing was particularly dangerous, it’s just something that I would typically not allow based entirely off of instinct. Without saying anything to Addie, I turned and walked away, letting the kid in me speak louder than the parent.

Have you ever made parenting decisions for fear of being a hypocrite?

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More on Dadding:

My Crying Wife and the Sad Relief From a Missed Phone Call

Up, Up and Away: The Excitement of Watching Super Hero Movies with Addie

The Cowardly Lion and the Land of Giants

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