Thursday, April 30, 2009

I May Have Committed a Parenting Flop

It seemed like a good enough idea. I negotiated a deal with my son, get your haircut, get an mp3 player.

I'm not sure when it started, but he just kept letting his hair grow longer and longer. I guess I figured that sooner or later he would get tired of it and want to cut it. But it never happened. It just kept getting longer and longer.

I realize there aren't many areas of self expression that kids have, so I didn't want to take it from him by force, so last week when he kept pressuring me to buy him an mp3 player, I thought I may have found a way to get his haircut.

The deal went down yesterday, and sadly to say, not that well. He wasn't pleased with how short his hair was. We bought him the player and this morning, he was really concerned about going to school with the new 'do'.

But that's not the worst part I'm finding out. I know, I may have erred in making a deal on something I could have just done. I'm the parent, I could have sheared the kid with no explanation. its a father's prerogative. Here's the worst part. My six year old daughter started working me this morning about her getting an mp3 player.

My son is sitting at the table eating his Fruity Pebbles, and is watching me back pedal with my daughter about how she is not going to get any deal like he did. Gabe pipes up and says "Act sadder Faith, then he'll do it".

I'm not sure how this is going to end up. But one thing has become amazingly clear to me this morning. My 8 year old son has graduated to full manipulation capabilities. Its sad to admit, but he has realized a truth that many already know- I can manipulate people with my emotions.

We had a talk, and I'm sure we'll have more, but the bottom line is this- manipulating people with emotions is wrong. Its not a good way to get what you want in this world. In the long run, its going to backfire, because people do not like to be manipulated.

Have you advanced past my son? Better yet, have we advanced past my son? Manipulation is not love, coercion is not love. Don't take advantage of those you love.

I may have flopped yesterday as a parent with this whole mp3 hair thing, but the good news is this. God can repair whatever was broken. It wasn't a huge deal. I guess its just one of those things you learn as a parent.

Gabe's hair does look good though!



  1. Matt, Matt, Matt,
    Your kids have been manipulating you almost since they were born. Do you remember when they used to cry until you picked them up? They know the depth of our love for them, they know we don't like to see them suffer. We all want our own way. This is a good message. How many times have I prayed to God, thinking I am praying with an altruistic spirit, only to stop myself and ask, "Hey, what is your true intention, what are you really praying for and why?" This is a good gut check, Thanks!! How was your ice cream? :-)

  2. Agree with Michaela. Humans are excellent manipulators from birth. Its a trait or fault, depending on how you view it, that we all posses and use every day of our lives.

    Humans also respect and crave a leader and appreciate boundaries places around them. Take this opportunity to set them up and you'll not regret it.

  3. Oh yeah. the munipulation game begins at birth. Just wait, daughters are better at it then sons. They seem to get daddy by the little finger at birth and just keep gripping tighter. In the end...we love them unconditionally and they us. God has a great plan and we aren't perfect. Hair grows back and a new game starts. Good luck with the MP3 with Faith. Love you all.
    Theresa B

  4. Being a good manipulator isn't a bad quality. On the flip side, it's simply being good at "selling" yourself to other people based on what you know about the other person. Gabe knows you love him SO much and want him happy, he capitalized on it.

    Now it's a matter of teaching him this skill is like The Force... You must not go over to the dark side. But use your power for good.

  5. Dear Matt.... welcome to parenthood!!! lol
    wait till you get to watch your kids go through the same!! Erin calls me frequently with the same kinds of stories/ dilemas... I simply smile and tell her......its payback my love, then laugh...