Tuesday, April 19, 2016
My kids are nearly grown now (crossing fingers here). But I have to confess that there were times when I took an unconventional approach to raising them. Let's face it: parenting is more or less a survival game, and if you let the kids win you're doomed. I admit that I made it through by using some unconventional tactics in my strategy, but I'm willing to share my dark secrets in the hope that these will bring other parents through this journey (mostly) unscathed.
Dark Secret #1:
The Broccoli Emporium isn’t actually my favorite restaurant because it isn’t a real place at all.
Whenever we were on road trips I told my kids The Broccoli Emporium was my favorite restaurant and we would stop there for our next meal if they didn’t behave in the car.
“Is everything made out of broccoli there?”
“Yes. Even the milkshakes.”
Worked like a charm. No regrets on that one.
Note: this technique works best on small children before they can actually read billboards.
Dark Secret #2:
When she was about three my daughter loved watching the child catcher scene from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, so I let her.
Apparently she thought the rest of the movie was boring, so I played that scene over and over for her while she snacked on goldfish. If a kid finds terror entertaining, I don't feel that we, as parents, should restrict them and deny them what they crave. After all, an electronic babysitter is only as good as the content. BTW - Now she’s in college and enjoys reading HP Lovecraft, so I obviously did something right.
Dark Secret #3: More than once I’ve thought about texting one of my kids and saying, “Please don’t come home until I figure out how to dispose of your body.”
They were teenagers. Need I say more?
The point is I never sent those texts. At least not on purpose, anyway.
But even if I sent them, the kids learned that everyone has limits, even "sweet mommy."
Dark Secret #4: I let my children watch all kinds of TV shows and movies that more conservative parents frowned upon.
I made it a rule that my kids could watch anything as long as I watched it with them, and I did. I asked just enough dumb questions to keep them from renting anything they didn’t want to have to explain to me. There's nothing like pure embarrassment for behavior modification.
Of course, I wouldn't do that now because they learned from the best and I'm sure they'd put in a movie that made me very uncomfortable and enjoy asking me questions about it.
Free parenting tip: stop while you're ahead and learn to anticipate potential revenge situations.
Dark Secret #5: The Internet in my house magically stopped working whenever anyone had a big test the next day.
Actually, that wasn’t me. Comcast is simply unreliable. My Internet stopped working all the time for no reason, but I like to think that subscribing to Comcast was part of my nefarious plan to keep the kids focused on their schoolwork.
Let's face it, we're all going to be scarred by our parenting experiences, but at least my children's therapists won't be bored during those decades of counseling ahead.