Sunday, March 11, 2012

Who's the Boss?

I recently read an article about the generation we're raising. In it, the author cites examples of how we are raising a society of self-important, privileged "douchebags" (his word). Whenever I read an article like this, whether it's tongue-in-cheek or not, I perform a little bit of introspection. As a result, I played some serious defense when I got home with Peanut that night...

My Director came home from work a little earlier than usual. I had just started dinner. (Normally, dinner is ready when she walks through the door.) It was bath night, and she proposed taking a bath before dinner. I was all for it. Get the bath, the bane of our parental existence, out of the way. Peanut, however, wanted nothing to do with this plan.

She's a creature of habit, and our habit is bath after dinner. She likes to come home and watch some television to unwind after school. And since it occupies her while I cook and she's been active and learning all day, I'm fine with it.

She cried, whined, and refused to negotiate. With that article fresh in my mind I told my wife she can't back down. She had to follow through and give the Peanut a bath right then.... before dinner.

She did follow through. I heard nothing but crying from the point they went upstairs to the point where I was able to put everything on simmer and go upstairs to offer whatever logistical and moral support possible. I entered the bathroom to find Peanut in the bath, crying... but no tears. She was just doing it to prove a point. What point that was, I have no idea.

I tried reasoning with her. "Sweetie, you like to have fun in the bath," I reminded her. "But you aren't because you're crying. If you stop crying you can just have fun." Didn't matter. She eventually calmed down... after the bath.

Dinner and the rest of the evening went fine. Until it was time for bed. Since we let her watch the rest of her movie after dinner, we told her the only part of the bedtime ritual we would do is read a book. A short book. She wanted to "read" it to us. Fine.

First My Director set the ground rules: "It has to be quick and you have to be nice." Well, no such luck. She tends to be a bossy procrastinator when we allow her to "read" to us. Telling us to be quiet. Refusing to accept our help. Annoying.

That was the final straw. She was being mean and we weren't going to stand for it. We kissed her goodnight and closed the door, with her crying on the other side.

And that was that. We didn't go back in. I think we made the right call in both instances. I also think making tough decisions that might make you feel lousy is an important part of ensuring you don't raise a little d-bag of your own. 

What do you think? Did we make the right call?

This post first appeared on My Husband Ate All My Ice Cream on November 1, 2011, in response to the article I linked above and a post she wrote about every child in a group receiving "participation" ribbons in classes and contests


  1. I think that as long as you felt it was the right choice, it was.

    As a parent, I think you need to pick your battles, big and small. I give my kids a lot of freedom to learn and discover, but when it matters most (usually when they are in deep doo-doo) it is clear that I AM THE BOSS and they respect that. In the end, I think they like that they have some say, but also have comfort in still having someone else looking after them.

    Not every parent is this way though, and not every child is either. As a whole, I do think there is a HUGE disconnect between kids "back in the day" and the kids today.

    1. Some very good points. I agree... we shouldn't fight them on everything. I think the kids have to win every once in a while. I also think I fight Peanut too much sometimes. But she knows that when she asks for something nicely and without crying or whining, she's gonna get what she wants MOST of the time. But that's easier said than done.

  2. There's nothing wrong with putting your foot down when it needs to be done and it makes sense to do so, but you shouldn't stress yourselves out by battling with your kids just to make sure that you "win." If it isn't something that is going to matter in an hour, or tomorrow, or ten years from now, then just let it ride.

    I went through one of the "I'm the boss" periods right after my divorce, which happened to coincide with my brief "Super Nanny" fascination. My daughter and I spent about a month fighting over EVERYTHING. That kid was on the naughty bench from the time we got home until I finally tucked her into bed and went to cry myself to sleep because I was such a lousy parent.

    Turns out, she and I both needed to grow up a little. Five years later, we are now discussing our differences of opinion, and she knows that she'd better have a well prepared argument if she hopes to get her way on something. If her argument fails, she recognizes that no means no, and that's the end of it.

    Sure, kids are different now than they were in the "good old days", every generation of kids knows a little bit more than their parents did at their age. But I think the most important thing that the article you read missed is that during certain times of their lives, ALL kids are douchebags. That is why parents are required to take care of them by law, because if it were legal, tasty, and socially acceptable for us to eat our young, most of us probably would.

    1. Hahaha... excellent point about all kids being d-bags at some point. But I think your story - which I am grateful you shared - shows that we all bring a little bit of our own baggage (for lack of a better term) to parenting. And how we deal with that baggage while we are parenting will go a long way in deciding how our relationships with our child(ren) turn out.

      Good job by you recognizing that, and finding some common ground that works for you and your daughter. Sometimes I lose sight of that myself.

  3. It seems there is always someone telling you what is right or wrong and I believe that the best is to consider the pros and cons and do what you feel is best for your child and your family.

  4. I would like to start by saying that I really enjoy reading your blog, it seems we have similar parenting views and that is refreshing.

    I think you did make the right call and it sounds like you have that "wiggle room" for adjustment when needed. It's great to have that routine everyday (I do too) but it also healthy to show her that things can be switched up and be just as really there was a lesson just with that little change. I think your Director clearly explained the expecations to Peanut about reading the book and there are consequences when you don't follow through.

    My thought is that we need to teach our children how to cope with of those "life moments" is not getting everything we want. It stinks to not get what you want, but you need to learn how to cope with that feeling.

    Yes all kids can be d-bags at times, they are people just like us and can have an "off" is the kids that are ALWAYS d-bags (and then you meet the parents)that I don't want MY kid to be like.

    My guess is that you and your Director are good people and Peanut will follow suit.


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