Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Parenting On a Need-to-Know Basis

They say that knowledge is power. Is it a bad thing when, as a parent, I use that knowledge to my own benefit?

Recently, my daughter's best friend was having a birthday. My wife and the mother of my girl's BFF exchanged a few texts and it was arranged that there would be a small birthday celebration, and that my daughter was invited. This was information that my daughter would find extremely exciting.

We didn't tell her. (At least, not immediately.) Why? Because if we had told her about the birthday party, she would have spent all of the days and hours leading up to the party thinking of nothing else. She would have bounced around the house doing a mental, and very vocal, countdown of the time until the party. She would have talked about it non-stop. She would have driven us crazy.

And so, as parents, we wielded the power of that knowledge to our own advantage. We didn't tell her--until we did.

With just hours to go before the party, I was at home with my two oldest children. (My wife had taken the two younger ones to go grocery shopping.) It was Saturday, and we had asked the older kids to do a chore outside of their regularly scheduled ones. But, they were moving quite slowly. A task that should have taken them 45 minutes was turning into an all-day event.

That's when I decided to use my knowledge to my benefit. I told my daughter about her friend's birthday party, and warned her that she wouldn't be able to go unless she finished the task at hand. The results were amazing! She got more done in the next ten minutes than she had in the previous hour and a half.

And it was all because I leveraged the information at my disposal for my benefit. Does that make me a bad person? Maybe. But, it definitely makes me a parent. Parents use the power of their knowledge to their advantage all the time. Don't believe me? Just think about how we use Santa Claus. "You better be good, or Santa won't bring you any presents." Or, "If you keep behaving like that, I'll tell Santa he doesn't need to stop at our house this year."

In the end, did I feel guilty for using the knowledge at my disposal for my own benefit? No. My daughter was able to finish her chore, AND she went to her friend's birthday party and had a great time. For me, that was a win-win situation.

Their youthful energy and boundless enthusiasm gives kids an edge over adults. We need to be able to use one of the few advantages we have: knowledge. Because knowledge is power.

Photo courtesy of the website Pixabay.

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