Sunday, 22 November 2009

Why don’t the kids do as I ask?

I always thought I was persuasive. After all, I work in Marketing and PR. Yet though I hate to admit it, my persuasive charms are wasted on my children. Are they genetically programmed to ignore everything I say?
Over the years I’ve read all the parenting books. I’ve been to Positive Parenting courses. I’ve even swotted for coffee mornings so that I could appear vaguely knowledgeable amongst the mothers who know. But I didn’t pass.
Good mummies don’t want to share their intellectual property. They don’t want to share the inside knowledge - the gen - on how to kid-wrangle. I lag behind. My ADD addled brain can’t remember from one minute to the next what instructions I’ve given them already.
Was bedtime 9.30 or 10.00? Were they allowed to stay up on a school night to watch something vaguely educational, or not? Is it ok to eat seven Weetabix, because after all they are full of healthy fibre? I can’t recall.
What’s worse is they remember. The kids know everything. They know that if they wait till 7pm when I’ve already downed a nerve-soothing glass or two of vino that I may just say ‘yes’ to all sorts of things. They wait and watch, and then pounce. Dazed and distracted I’m likely to say ‘sure, you can go to that party, and yes you can have the last twenty pounds in my purse to buy junk food at the movies, and of course I’ll pick you up after netball even though you do have legs and last I checked, could still walk!'
Then there is the blatant blanking.
‘Can you please empty the dishwasher?’ (yes the dishes again! A household with five people has a daily Everest of dishes.)
She scoots upstairs and disappears into the bathroom. She has not suddenly discovered that she is covered in slime. There is no urgent need to worship the shower god. I am being blanked because I’m asking her to do something she does not want to do.
She is the queen of the blank. Son’s not much better, and the youngest daughter is learning fast from her older siblings. She used to be so good, so obliging.. Ooh the rot is spreading!
The funny thing is that in a way I’m reassured by their innocent naughtiness. In the dark days, when the ex and I had just parted the kids watched me with twitching eyes. They jumped to attention every single time I asked. They compassionately did their jobs and their homework. No one lifted a penny or five from my change purse. Not one of the three kids misbehaved, or acted out or was horrible, arrogant or lazy. No one ran away from home and joined the circus, no one dated an unusual person with pierced private parts, or failed to do their homework, or got rude notes from school.
They were quiet and polite and caring. They were good kids, and they told me often that I was a good mum.
Strange sad days. I guess they were too nervous to lay any more strife upon my shoulders for fear it may be the last straw.
When My Englishman first met my kids at home in NZ he commented that everyone ran rings around me. Even the dog and cat had me under their control, he said. He was indignant on my behalf and determined to change their ways. He didn’t realise that they’d only just adapted to the marriage breakup and had settled back into their wicked ways.
Tonight, four years later and half a world away, I breezed in from a hectic day racing from the printer to the supermarket, and found the girls watching i-Carly in the dark surrounded by mess. Dark Princess ignored me when I asked her to do the dishes. Son quietly pocked £1 in loose change I’d left on the bench and the youngest one (she who can do no wrong!), nicked off with the last of the digestive biscuits (and right before dinner too!).
As I coated the chicken with five spice and soy sauce, I smiled quietly to myself. Everyone is behaving wickedly. Even the bear regularly raids the bin and scatters chicken bones all over the carpet. They must feel relaxed and at home after 18 months of change. As good as that is, I’d still like some advice from the ‘good mums’ out there.

How do you get your kids to do as you ask?

Vegemitevix xx


  1. It's a myth if you ask me, kids are programmed to ignore, it is there main strength, but heaven forbid we ignore there multitude of requests for food, travel, money etc...

  2. I'm wondering if the answer is one that none of want to hear- and one that I am sure you know perfectly well.
    The answer, my friends, is not blowing in the is this:
    Stop trying to be their friend. Do what you have to do and take the consequences. If there are no rules, lay them down.
    1.Respect. You have earned it and expect it.
    2.Jobs allocated will be done...NOW...not when it suits them. [you are in a war zone and you had better be the General]
    3. Back talk will not be respect me and I will respect you.
    4.Allowences will be set for chores done or at the discretion of parents. And will be docked for failing to follow rules.

    Be prepared for rebellion, but like all kids big and small they will yell or sulk till the novelty wears off or they are hungry or when they realise that if they want a happy life full of fun and love, and their mum back.

    Partner must be co-General...this does not work if you allow the kids to divide and conquer.

    RESPECT WORKS BOTH WAYS. Your children know you are a pushover...get tough or stop whingeing.

    Unbelievably the veri word is sadma. How appropriate is that?

  3. They don't, very often...they sometimes say its the way l ask!

    they should be lucky l ask...from now on l will tell...who am l kidding? Its faster to do it yourself...not doing them any favours l know...I've tarted leaving them to lay in too...its more peaceful for me, if they sleep in..thats not right though is it.

  4. Moannie may well be right. I know we have been too soft with Junior. In an effort to make life easier for our children in a pretty difficult world we have probably ended up making life harder for them. They will have to wake up one day and it will be a rude awakening.

  5. Amen to Moanie. My two teens seem to have an entitlement complex going at the moment. We had a full on battle a few nights ago because I needed one of them to take the little guy to the school play. (Husband and I had to go to another school thing.) They both basically said 'no', until I warned them that the next time they asked me to do something for them, the answer would be the same.
    They weren't happy with me but yo uknow what, I wasn't happy with them either.

  6. I totally think it's universal; they ALL go through that. And the whole "entitlement" thing; don't get me started....I am constantly reminding Man-Child that I don't HAVE to do xyz and that he is part of this family so he'd better do xyz. ::sigh:: These teenagers! They'll be what drives us to the box of hair dye.....

  7. You're probably right Moanie, I know I need to be tougher with the kids, but then sometimes it's easier to just do it yourself as FFF says. My reaction to the behaviour very much depends on whether I've had too much caffeine that day...