What Do Parents Know Anyway?
October 11, 2000
How is it that I managed to have two children and survived the last 11 years without "doing as my parents did"? I have NO idea! But I am quite proud that I have stuck to my guns with my refusal to "become my parents" with their strict "it's because I said so" mantra. Thankfully (for them), I have somehow or another turned out to be quite NORMAL. I've reached this conclusion only after many a session with my psychiatrist, thank you!
I think after all these child-rearing days I have finally figured out the key -- just do it the best you can, keep the children in sight, don't let them play with firearms and hand grenades, and most of all don't let strangers walk off with them! As for all the other parental woes, when all else fails, run around the room flailing your arms about (make sure it's a real show-stopper) and scream, "How many times do I have to tell you?!" If anything, this gets their attention, and for about a day or two you might actually think you're a successful parent, but hey, don't be fooled!
I no longer ask, "Why haven't you cleaned your room?" or "Whose mess is this?" or "How can you do your homework with circus clowns running amuck in your room?" Instead, I take away money! What a novel idea, huh? And not that it works like a charm -- no plan mixed with children ever does, but I'm less stressed because I know that THEY are in ultimate control and NOT me!
In deference to all of you out there who are "my parent" types, I have found that it's okay that my children don't always listen to me because I know I was the same way as a child and all those spankings and the endless "you are on restriction until I tell you otherwise"-type punishments didn't faze me in the least.
So, I worked up a "scorecard" for allowance. (The word "allowance" may not be quite appropriate here, but for the sake of tradition, I'll call it that.) The scorecard is broken up into daily expected chores that are required to be done by certain times of the day, and a "price" for each one. Yes, I say "costs" because it will either cost me if they do it by the designated time, or it will cost them if they don't.
Regardless of when it gets done, it has to get done, they have no choice -- the only catch is that the longer it takes them to do it, the more money I subtract. When the end of the week comes, I add up all the amounts that I owe them and subtract those they owe me, and that's their allowance for the week. They would each receive five dollars at the end of the week if all is done as it should have been.
I used to give them five dollars each week just as "freebie" money, and I went bald pulling out my hair all week long with "Whose mess?" and "Why didn't you take out the trash?" Now, I'm averaging a savings of two to three dollars per child each week on allowance! How's that for smart money management?
I guess what I'm trying to convey as a parent is that there are certain things that are expected of children, and we as parents should know that, no matter how many times you tell them, it's only going to get done if they choose for it to get done. All we are here for is to set the precedence.
I have by no means found the secret to raising children, and you have not just read "The Perfect Parent" chronicles. All I'm saying is that I am one of you, a parent, and I'm doing whatever it takes to maintain my sanity (and save a little money in the end)!