Social Isolation and distancing, in the parenting world, comes with trade-offs. If your kids are encroaching on the rules during this social-isolation era, provide humorous lessons to maintain law and order… always!
I would wake up, half an hour after my son did, and he’d be munching nonstop on a box of Captain Crunch. The next thing I knew, my son was asking for leftover Dairy Queen Ice Cream for breakfast.
Another episode involved a negotiation: Finish five more bites of dinner in order to earn dessert.
Why do we do this to ourselves? Negotiating with six-year-olds is a never-ending process if you let it slip into the norm of everyday life. When a dad is working from home, five days a week to social distance himself from coworkers, perspective is sometimes lost.
This happened tonight after I made Chef John’s baked fried rice – which is splendid and simple to make, for the record.
Am I a gluten for punishment, or have I slowly been pissing away the authority I have over my child?
For the record, I’m not heavy-handed when it comes to rules—I try to provide a fair balance of love and discipline. My wife enforces the rules more often than not because I’m away at the office 11 hours a day, so I back her up if she’s enforcing rules when I get home from work. Now that I’m home and wake up earlier than my wife, disciplining falls on me.
And I’m failing.
That ended today.
My son, Connor, asked if he could have Danish cookies yesterday a.m. Now, with a bit of perspective, I’ve chosen to take a different course.
Let the rules speak for themselves.
In the innocent-looking Danish cookie container lies a head of garlic. When my son assumes, early in the morning, that he’s entitled to eat cookies whenever he wants them, he’ll find a head of garlic in the Danish cookie tin.
Not finishing the meal I prepare tomorrow night? No worries! My run to Dairy Queen will include two requests: my request and my wife’s, not my son’s.
Not feeling game to finish the veggies on your plate at lunch? Sure! Go ahead, skip the nutrients and minerals. However, when I’m snacking on popcorn later, I’ll note this treat is absent of anything wholesome… hence (son) you haven’t earned the right to a single kernel of popcorn.
Don’t feel like walking the dog with your dad? Okay, I’ve got a backyard full of indiscriminate dog excrement that needs picking up! I’m kidding, but you get the point.
If you’re a dad and you get the sense that the balance of power is shifting between yourself and your toddler, get clever and set some traps for him/her to reinforce the rules. Soon enough, he’ll learn that eating his veggies… or being told cookies are off limits for breakfast, does not represent a negotiable term.
Embrace the opportunity to parent on an equal footing with your wife. This will enable you to manage social distancing without the desire to distance yourself from being a responsible parent.
FOLLOW UP: For the record, my son did NOT open the tin of cookies and fall for the trap! He listened to the rules, so there’s hope for me yet!
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