Life as a grownup often seems like an asylum filled with inmates gone wild. For some grownups, the inmates come disguised as their children.
Now, when inmates take over an asylum those in authority have one of two choices — take it back, or run for cover.
But at times, life in the asylum becomes so tiring for mom and dads that they’ve come up with a third choice for dealing with the inmates.
They become one of them.
It’s somewhat like the Stockholm Syndrome — when hostages sympathize with their captors and begin siding with them.
That’s when things get ugly.
I recently had the pleasure of seeing this firsthand when I decided to treat myself to a manicure and pedicure at a nearby salon. I had anticipated a relaxing afternoon where my most important decision would be what color I wanted my fingernails and toenails painted.
Instead it turned into two hours of sheer torture orchestrated by an 11-year-old boy who held the salon full of patrons at bay while he waited for his mother, grandmother and their friend to finish their appointments.
His antics included skating up and down the row of pedicure stations blowing kisses to the women having their nails done. Is it really necessary for children to own shoes with little wheels on them?
He also had a voice that had the potential of rupturing the eardrum of every dog within a mile. And he used it to make the demands necessary to free his hostages:
“I wanna go to McDonald’s! I wanna go to McDonald’s! I wanna go to McDonald’s!” he screeched.
At one point he went outside and began licking the glass door for everyone inside to see.
The owner shot him a look that said “Stop that, you brat!”
But instead of reprimanding the boy, the three women who brought him to the salon laughed and celebrated his “cuteness.”
Then, as if an afterthought, the mother said, “Baby, stop that. I’ll take you to McDonald’s when we’re done here.”
Well now, isn’t that an example of Perfect Parenting 101! Celebrate and reward bad behavior. Give in to your kids’ demands!
I don’t know about you, but every time I’m rewarded for something, I tend to do more of it.
Well, this kid was no rocket scientist, but since he’d been promised a trip to McDonald’s for making his mom laugh, he kept looking for ways to get even more attention while continuing to terrorize everyone in sight.
When I was his age, just one look from my grandmother would be enough to shut me up. She was barely 5 feet tall in high heels. But I loved her dearly and respected her because she wasn’t afraid to be a grownup around me. Yet, my grandma never laid a hand on me or raised her voice. She didn’t have to. If I pushed too much for attention, she let me know that wasn’t necessary to win her affection. Her love was unconditional.
Children of all ages crave unconditional love. When they act out and demand attention, what they’re asking for is love, not submission.
So, instead of a trip to McDonald’s, reward your children with something that might surprise them … a hug. Letting them share things that interest you will bring you closer. But for the sake of everyone else in the room, don’t bring an 11-year-old boy to a nail salon where he’ll be bored out of his mind.
Parents, it’s time to take back the asylum.