Giving Kids What They Want
And the key is giving them what they want without letting them off the hook…you can’t just now mow lawns and be a lazy bum! You can not mow lawns, and get a different job!
I am learning that one of the most effective strategies in parenting is to give your kids everything that they want! I know that this goes against all fundamental parenting advice since the creation of the world. I know that many of you think that this will raise up arrogant and selfish punks. But I believe that when the “give kids everything they want” clause is invoked at just the right time it can yield a life changing harvest if parents can just stick with it and do as their kids say.
“Dad, I just want to be a normal kid”:
Jodie and I work hard to raise our kids to be WEIRD. I wish I had come up with this concept, but I have to credit my friend, mentor and pastor Craig Groeschel. You can read about it in his new book called WEIRD, because normal isn’t working. So one day after school one of my kiddos came home complaining, “Dad, I just want to be a normal kid?” So Jodie and I decided to let him be a normal kid. I disappeared for just a brief period of time since many kids live in divorced households, we over-scheduled him to the point of exhaustion since most parents do this to their kids and we stopped praying, giving advice and saying I love you since many “normal” households don’t do this much anymore. I must say that after a short period of time, he decided that he didn’t want to be normal anymore.
“Dad, I don’t want to mow lawns anymore”:
I remember one time when my son came home complaining (for the thousandth time) that he didn’t want to mow lawns anymore. Jodie and I believe in developing a strong work ethic in our kiddos from a very young age so we decided to help my son start his own lawn business. He had about 4 to 5 yards and was making good money, but every time he had to mow he complained and kept saying, “I just don’t want to mow lawns anymore!” So Jodie and I decided to grant his wish and give his lawn business to his siblings. The catch was that Jodie and I still believe in creating a work ethic so we demanded that he go out, get applications and start to interview at places like fast food joints and grocery stores. We are in the middle of this as we speak and is one of the most painful things that Jodie and I have had to do as a parent…but we are giving him what he wanted, which is a lawn mowing free life. I guess he started to come to grips with his request and before he has started to pursue other jobs he came to me and said, “Dad, I have changed my mind! I want my lawn business back; I realized I don’t really have it as bad as I thought.” Jodie and I are deciding how to move forward on this one, so your prayers would be appreciated.”
“Dad, I hurt my arm and I can’t help around the house”:
Recently, my youngest came to Jodie and I and told us the he can’t help with his chores around the house because his arm still hurts from a skating accident. Now to his defense, he did hurt his arm pretty bad but he seems to play the “injury card” anytime work is involved. Jodie and I, as you can guess, believe in every kid sharing his load around the house and helping out. So when he came to us invoking the “injury card” we told him that we understand and that he needed to go to his room, lie in his bed, elevate his arm and ice it (15 minutes on and off) for the next two hours. His buddy came to the door and asked if he could play outside and we said he couldn’t because his arm was hurt, a friend called and asked if he could have a sleep over but we told them he couldn’t because his arm was hurt and a friend wanted him to go swimming but you guessed it! He can’t, because his arm was hurt. Jodie and I decided to give our son what he wanted, plus much more!
Here are other times you might consider giving your kids what they want…
- “Mom, I wish I didn’t live here anymore”: This is a tough one, but I believe there are ways you can grant this request in a wise, lesson learning kind of a way.
- “Dad, I wish I didn’t have to put my laundry away”: I love this one! I encourage parents to stop doing their kids laundry for a season so that they won’t have any laundry to put away.”
- “Why can’t I have my own car, I hate driving your ugly truck”: That’s fine, make them get a job and purchase their own.
- “I hate taking out the trash”: Parents that struggle with obsessive cleanly disorder, this will rock your world. I encourage you to stop emptying the trash and let it flow over the trash can and over the pantry until your kids can’t stand it anymore.
- “I hate going to school”: Show up the next day with a handful of applications to McDonalds, grocery stores and the local waste plant and tell them they are going to have to get a job and start paying rent if they plan to drop out of school