Column day. Today I talk about those moments when we realize our kids are smarter than us sometimes.
My six-year-old is quite the bright little cookie. I don’t just say that as a proud parent; to tell you the truth, on many occasions it’s a pain in the butt. He does things to the iPod that I don’t know how to undo… the boy is already surpassing me when it comes to technology, dadgumit.
When I’m issuing a decree to my kids, I try never to explain myself by falling back on that parental cop-out, “because I said so.” But dang, the Mastermind makes it hard sometimes. He’s a shrewd negotiator, and he’s incredibly adept at picking up on any flaws in your reasoning. More than once I’ve found myself arguing with him over something and it becomes apparent to both of us that I really don’t have a good case.
Sometimes I do the stubborn parent thing and dig in my heels, but on other occasions I’ve admitted to him, “You know what? You’re right. I don’t have a good reason to say no. It’s really not a big deal if you do X.”
I think it’s OK to be human, admit you don’t always make the best decisions, and give your kids some room to take the lead or make their case. Boundaries are important, of course, and just how much you loosen that parental grip also depends on how old and mature your kids are. I can’t just give the Whirlwind free rein, because that would result in utter destruction. But there are times when my five-year-old really does have a good idea of what his own needs are and I’m better off to follow his lead rather than impose my will.
It’s definitely not the most hassle-free way to parent. Sometimes it’s REALLY tempting to just say “because I said so” and be done with it. But in the long run we’re trying to teach our kids to be independent thinkers, unafraid to ask questions (hopefully in a respectful way) and confident in expressing who they are.
It’ll pay off when they’re adults… or so we tell ourselves.