I remember being so excited when I found out I was going to be a dad. My wife and I could hardly stand waiting the nine months it took for my first daughter to arrive.
But now when I think about it, it’s almost as is if that that after your children are born, you spend the rest of their lives trying to make it seem as if they didn’t exist.
If they cry, you stuff a pacifier in their mouth to silence them. If they are running around screaming and breaking things like idiots, you try to find some quieter, calmer activity that will occupy them. Or even send them to a “time out”, which not only quiets them but makes them disappear as well.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my children to death, but I can’t deny that I tend to react to them in whichever way I determine will make them quietly disappear the fastest.
As they get a little older, this reaction is often what I call “the path of least resistance”. Sometimes I will try to disguise the path of least resistance by calling it “letting them learn from the consequences of their decisions”. At least then I can assign a methodology to my not wanting to engage in an arguments with my kids.
When a child wants something that might not be the best for them, I have to consider if the bad result of letting them have what they want is so awful that I want to endure the tantrum involved with telling them they can’t have it? Sometimes the answer is no.
I try hard not to give in to complete apathy as a parent. . . . . but I don’t always succeed.
Six year old Hannah: “Can I have a gallon of gasoline?”
Me: “Wellllll, I guess. But take it to your room and play with it.”
A lot of times it is my wife who alerts me to just how far down the path of least resistance I have travelled.
Annoyed wife: “Why on earth would you give a gallon of gasoline to a six year old?”
Me, second guessing my decision as I answer: “Ugh. . . because she asked for one?”
Even more annoyed wife: “Well if she asked for a basket of hand grenades would you let her have that too?”
Me trying to sound logical: “No. Hand grenades are expensive and much louder than the whining I will get when I tell her no.
Sometimes I will give them what they want to quiet them, but I will add “but just this once” to make myself feel like caving in isn’t a regular occurrance.
Six year old Hannah: “can I have a gallon of gasoline?”
Me: “I guess, but just this once.”
Other times I will give in to the path of least resistance, but only with a compromise to their request. This way I feel like I still have some control.
Six year old Hannah: “Can I have a gallon gasoline?”
Me in control: “Hmmmmm, no but you can have a quart of gasoline. A gallon would be just too dangerous.