What child doesn’t love a trip to the bank? It’s one of the many errands on Mom’s list of places to go that kids simply don’t mind attending. Why is this? SUCKERS!!!
Here’s what happened the other day:
I was in the drive-through line at our bank…
It was one of the final days of summer, and so I had a car full of kids. There were big kids and little kids and everyone knew what their prize would be if they stayed quiet while I tried to hear the teller’s directions over the speaker. The teller asked, “Do you have children in the car and are they allowed to have a sucker.” These questions were her typical questions. She was so kind to ask them, and I responded, “I have four children in the car, and yes, they are allowed to have a sucker, thank you so much.”
However, the teller went beyond her call of duty with her next question… With one quick question she opened up a can of worms instead of that yummy jar of dum dum suckers. She said, “And what flavors do they want?” My children’s eyes lit up because not only did they get a sucker, but they got to choose the flavor! Holy Moly! Life is good!
What I want to know is : When did things change? When did we move from offering a special treat to appeasing our children’s every want and desire? This shift (I fear) is what is creating havoc in many of our homes. This question of “what do you want?” changes the road ahead in our families as it puts the child in the driver’s seat. I think the question stems from our need to avoid having our children suffer.
Maybe parents are thinking these things…
“My children have a mind of their own, and why would I want them to have to suffer through eating a sucker they don’t like.”
“Wouldn’t it be tortuous to expect them to sit quietly while I speak to the teller, and then give them a black raspberry sucker when they really wanted a watermelon one?”
“What a horrible mother I would be if I didn’t give them what they wanted! Shouldn’t I give them what they deserve? Which is …. Which is…”
Well, I guess that is the million dollar question.
What do our children deserve?
Do children deserve special treats or are special treats an added bonus to their expected behavior?
This may sound radical, but I say: children don’t deserve anything for making good choices while you wait at the bank or when they act as they are expected to act.
Now, if the teller is nice enough to offer you a sucker, then you may have one, but the deal is: You get what you get and you don’t have a fit. If you don’t like the flavor you have received, then you kindly pass it on to your brother, and ask if he would like to swap flavors. If no one wants to swap, you keep the sucker to share with your poor mother who has driven you all over town, or you simply throw it away when you get home.
Is this logical or am I crazy?
Crazy is: dooming our children to a life filled with constant pleasure and no suffering. This is because eventually life will deal them a “Yucky Sucker”, and they won’t know how to suffer gracefully because they’ve never had to do this before.
Back to our bank story: I kindly responded, “We are okay with whatever flavor we get,” (as my children cringed and groaned at me in the back seats). Then the teller said, “Thank you for being so easy going. I just had a mom drive back through the line because the sucker I gave her wasn’t her child’s favorite, and she didn’t want to hear him cry about it all the way home.”
YIKES! Are you kidding me? Is this what we’ve resorted to…?
Are these the Life Rules for children in 2012:
1. Get a treat for doing nothing out of the ordinary.
2. Cry as hard as you can when you don’t like the treat.
3. Then your mother will beg for another free treat so that she doesn’t have to listen to you suffer.
Here are my final thoughts…
- When it comes to freebies like suckers at the bank, there is no fussing… You get what you get and you don’t have a fit. If children are allowed to throw a fit and get what they want, their parents are supporting negative behaviors.
- If you do throw a fit, then you will get nothing. Mom or dad will not contrive the perfect scenario to make your wishes come true. They will not coddle you until you calm down over your “horrible experience”. Although this will be a challenge for parents, they will simply say, “Let me know when you are ready to join us or if you change your mind about your treat.”
- Then mom and dad will tune you out and not react to your fit so that you learn to regulate your emotions on your own.
Ahhhh isn’t life with children so sweet?