The other day I went to Disney World on a family outing and had planned to spend the day at Epcot with one of my teenage daughters. I had been looking forward to this for several months and she had to. I love my daughter very much, but like all teens she knows how to get under my skin and was working very hard to do just that the night before our big day. I was trying to be very patient, using all the very same techniques I try to teach the parents we council at Proliance Center, but none of it was working. My teen was hell bent on driving me crazy.
You see I have trouble paying attention with a lot of background noise, but this one is a great multi-tasker. She has the ability to watch TV, Instagram and play games on her phone, all while listening to her parent’s conversations without missing a word. I truly do not have that gift and needing to concentrate on something important I asked her to lower the TV in our hotel room.
“No. I am watching that show”, she said.
“I know. It’s just for a second, because I can’t concentrate with it on”, I replied.
“Well, I can and you should learn how, because I do it all the time at home when YOU watch TV!” she said back.
“I understand, but I can’t. Please shut it off”, I said.
“No! I don’t want to! That’s one of my favorite shows”, she says. [Now I’m starting to get upset.]
“You are being selfish, you have that show recorded at home, AND I asked you please”, I said.
“No YOU are being selfish!” she says. [At this point my blood is starting to boil and I am thinking all kinds of things: how she is acting like a spoiled brat, how I would never have dared to speak to my parents like that, how my parents would have likely.. Well, let’s just say it is a different time now, not to mention we are stuck in a single hotel room together.]
Lucky, for me (or maybe my daughter), in swoops my wife, having just gotten out of the restroom. Tag team is one awesome advantage of having two parents, I must admit. In any case, my wife tried unsuccessfully to talk some sense into her. This conversation kept going back and forth, now with my wife on my side. Finally, I gave her one last warning
“If you don’t shut that TV right now there is going to be a serious consequence!” [Amazing how a simple thing can blow out of proportion and, reflecting back, I should have left the room to cool down, but at the time I wanted to make sure my daughter knew I was in charge. Not to mention I had been nice all along. Or at least I started off that way.]
“NO!!!” she said.
“Fine then No Epcot tomorrow!!!” I said.
No sooner had the words left my mouth than I thought “Shoots there goes my day tomorrow”. I didn’t really think shoots, but I am cleaning it up for you readers. She seemed unfazed as we went out for dinner, while I was completely numb stewing inside of how the awesome day of fun we had planned for months was now ruined. She kept it going all night with myself in silence, knowing the day of reckoning for her was coming.
The next morning she acted as if nothing had happened, until I dropped the bomb that we weren’t going. Now the reality of it all set in for her and she cried and pleaded about the ruined day.
“Please, please, I want to go. How about our day together? Can I have another punishment?”
I, on the other hand had already mourned the loss of this day the night before, while she joked and laughed smugly at diner. Nevertheless I really wanted to make a deal with her, but I didn’t tell her that. As painful as it was I needed to stick to the punishment I gave her. Even my wife in a moment of weakness and sadness for my daughter and I tempted me in private
“Are you sure you don’t want to give her another punishment instead?”
But I painfully kept my word and my daughter’s punishment. My intent was to still spend the day with my daughter doing some other mediocre activity, but still with her. After all I wasn’t going to take father-daughter time away, just the awesome location and fun part. Remember here folks that this was super painful for me too. In punishing her I couldn’t go on the super fun day either.
Well the hammer was dropped and she would now learn her lesson, I thought. However, not without more pain for good ole dad. You see now that she knew that I wasn’t taking her for super fun day at Epcot and that her pleas did not work, she was going to give ME hell. She complained about anything and everything that we did for half the day and it was hell. She was truly a bitter pill to be around, but I remained strong. At least on the outside, on the inside I had a fleeting thought of why people don’t have kids.
In any case, the pain came and went and by the end of the day we manage to salvage it and have a great time. “I’m sorry daddy”, she said. “Me too, honey”. We hugged, we laughed, took funny selfies and other photos and soon the day and weekend came to an end. I can truly say we had a great time together, though we never went to Epcot. Did she learn a lesson? I hope so! I don’t want to miss another super fun day.
The take home point for all you readers with kids is that:
- We must be careful not to become engaged in pointless arguments with our kids.
- We must avoid giving consequences in anger.
- Time outs are not just for kids, they can help parents cool down too.
- We must follow through with the consequences we give our children.
- Never punish a child by removing time you spend with them.
- Even the Child Psychiatrist at Proliance Center isn’t perfect! LOL
– Dr. Michael Morejon, Proliance Center