sideline parenting (9 of 12) — let it lie
September 6, 2008 3 Comments
The key is not the will to win…everybody has that. It is the will to prepare to win that is important. (Bobby Knight, Texas Tech Men’s Basketball coach.)
Is it always bad if your children lie to you? Are their different levels and layers of lies? Are all lies created equal?
Occasionally, I catch my kids in a lie. They vary in creativity and substance. Sometimes they are amusing and sometimes they are annoying. Occasionally they are upsetting but they are always puzzling. My immediate reaction is to “call them on it”. I mean, they NEED to know how amazingly smart I am and the fact that I am a supreme being in the inner workings of the mind of a child…don’t I? I need to show them that “this ain’t my first rodeo” and although I was made DURING the day…it was not YESTERDAY…right? I have to prove that I am the ALL knowing FATHER and I will rule this family with my mental omnipotence and all knowing smartnestitude.
Me: “Everyone stand and witness the perfectness of me…”
You: “Gimmie a break, you silly man”
Look, I am not condoning lying and deception. I am just trying to make you understand how to make the conversations that follow them a conversation that you can “win”, and what it means to “win”. As parents, we need to remember what it was like to be a child and the weight we put on ourselves for the silliest things.
Think about this for a moment…
If we locked ourselves in our bedroom as boys at 13, it didn’t necessarily mean that we were loading up our herion needle and misusing the belt we got off our “church pants” while we popped in a Doors CD. We could have simply been exploring some of our new found hairiness or the strange place that zits are finding themselves homes on our previously flawless skin.
If we locked ourselves in the bathroom as a 9 year old girl, would we have to be planning to destroy the infrastructure of the credit reporting agencies by leading a cult attack on the powers that run those hideous institutions, or could you simply be stuffing your shirt with tissue paper to see what it would look like if you were a few years older, or had the same shape as whoever is popular that week.
The challenge is to plan your actions based on both parties being able to win after the upcoming interaction. The idea is to prepare yourself to speak about your true concern without it getting lost and tied up in the mysterious cloud of confusion between you and your children that is created by both of you thinking that you know better than the other.
::knock knock:: (it’s lowercase for a reason)
Parent Extraordinaire: Hey son/daughter, I would like to talk to you when you get a chance
Mr or Miss Wannalie: OK
PE: I want you to know that, just like Spider-man, parents have weird feelings when things are “going on” around their family. They are not always bad, but they might be “different”. I would just like you to know that if you ever feel confused about something, you can talk to me or mommy and we will listen and try to help. If you don’t feel like we are the right people to talk to and you would like to hear it from someone closer to your age, you can always talk to “cousin x” or “uncle y” (both good folks) and they can give you good advice.
MorMW: I know
PE: OK. I trust you to make the best decisions you can, but I want to put a few extra rules in place to make sure I help you without having to embarrass you or invade “your space”. You are getting older now and its important that you figure SOME things out for yourself, but if you get stuck…..
PE: Lets agree to keep the doors unlocked, unless you are getting changed or actually using the toilet or shower. If you need some private time for yourself and you would rather us not walk in on you, just come and ask us for some personal time and we can talk about a reasonable amount of time for you to have some privacy to take care of your business. You are entitled to some “space” After all, Dad sometimes feels like he needs that same kinda time for himself sometimes. I know exactly how you feel.
PE: I love you bud/sweetie, thanks for letting me “dad” all over you.
Everybody wins because you worked hard to prepare for the win.
The extra effort pays off because you got involved, validated their existence, and actually set some boundaries without sounding like Adolph Dorkster. Now the next time a credit agency calls your house to let you know about your delinquent payments, you can tell them that they should give you a few months off for saving their lives by stopping your daughters evil plan to wipe them off the face of the earth with homemade explosives that she made in your bathtub by mixing cleaning chemicals and bath oils.
Maybe that’s not such a good idea?