‘Cause he’s seven years old. And that would be embarrassing. Right?
“Dad, can I have some crackers? Dad can we play Wii? Dad can I go sledding? Dad, can I have a brownie? Dad can I light the couch on fire? Dad…? Dad??”
(…to be continued…)
Moms and Dads out there, I need you to do me a solid. Take a moment and look down. Like, just below your waist. Quick question… are you wearing pants? Let that be a lesson to you.
Too many kids are wearing the pants. I’m going crazy. I was in a convenience store yesterday afternoon, and I observed a pants-less mom, looking defeated, haggling with her two pants-wearing kids.
“What? We only get FOUR? C’mon mom, pleeeeease?? I really want it! No fair! C’MON! I want the sucker, too! C’mon Mom. It’s just five. WHAT?! We only get FOUR?! What??“
That’s right. A prolonged battle – in public – about whether mom would finally cave under the weight of her embarrassment and acquiesce to a FIFTH candy bar for each of her kids.
In my mind, I picked up each lad and drop kicked their ungrateful butts out of those pants and back into the minivan of shame where they belonged. Then, I returned the pants their mom, who should have been wearing them all along, with a tip of my hat. In my mind. It went down just like that.
In reality (where I would get arrested for kicking a stranger’s kid in the rear end) I could only stand by and watch it happen… the sad, slow, but sure relinquishing of the pants. They got their fifth piece of candy from the rack alright. But they got something more. They got the pants. And here’s the thing…
No kid – deep down inside – really wants the pants. They don’t want the responsibility of being the one in charge. No parent in their right mind would let a child under the age of ten get behind the wheel of the family suburban and pull out into traffic, right? It might look like fun for the kid, at first. But on a deeper level, it would be terrifying.
Just like the pants. Most kids think they want ’em. But on a deeper level, if they know they are the ones wearing the pants… it’s terrifying. Scientific studies have proven that children exhibit much more freedom to run and play in a fenced-in safe area than they do in a wide open space. Fences = safety.
One of the most important pieces of parenting advice I’ve ever heard came from family and parenting expert Dr. James Dobson. He said that in any conflict situation with a child who is wrestling for authority – testing your parenting mettle – trying to steal the pants – he said one thing is absolutely necessary. You must win. Parents worry too much about trying to pacify and avoid conflict. But in the very act of negotiating you are affirming the child’s “equal footing” with you, the adult, the authority figure. Kids don’t need to be pacified in this situation. They need to learn who wears the pants.
Now, I’ll insert a brief disclaimer here. Does this mean we should never listen to our kids’ point of view, or never explain our reasoning (when appropriate) for a parenting decision? Not at all. And this process gets more nuanced as children become young men and women. (Click here for my last post.) But it does mean that at no time should we hand our pants over to our children, or try to share out pants with little ones who need to learn that obedience and respect come before their momentary whims or manipulation tactics.
Back to my pre-lunch showdown scenario. Just about to eat. My seven-year-old fires a volley of requests for snacks, activities, and shenanigans that would disrupt the lunch plan we are about to execute. Calmly, I reach down and check. Yep. Pants securely in place. Parenthood authority intact. Without even batting an eye, I return fire…
“showdown at whowearsthepants pass :: you know you’re the parent, right? by Joshua Skogerboe is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.