My parents had one phrase that worked parenting magic every single time they used it. It was simple: Don't embarrass us, and we won't embarrass you. The parenting golden rule was very simple, and effective. My brother and I knew that my parents meant it and had no doubt that they would follow through with those consequences.
It's an approach that has lasted for decades and is now being employed by President Obama when parenting his girls.
The approach of telling tweens and teens that their parents will treat them as they treat their parents is brilliant for three reasons:
1. It is an easy way to remind kids that our actions have consequences, both for them and others. It's that last part that they often forget or disregard.
2. It leaves control in the hands of the tween/teen. My parents weren't telling my brother and I what to do, the choices were ours, as were the results.
3. The phrase also makes it clear that to tweens and teens that respect is a two-way street.
President Obama uses the parental version of the golden rule, telling his daughters, Sasha and Malia, that if they got tattoos, he and Michelle would also get ink.
“Michelle and I have used the strategy when it comes to things like tattoos – what we’ve said to the girls, ‘If you guys ever decide you’re going to get a tattoo, then mommy and me will get the same exact tattoo in the same place,” Mr. Obama told “Today” journalist Savannah Guthrie. “And we’ll go on YouTube and show it off as a family tattoo. And our thinking is that might dissuade them from thinking that somehow that’s a good way to rebel.” You can see the conversation here.
Hollywood is also aware of the effective technique. "Good Luck, Charlie" is a popular tween show on the family that has a decent parental following as well. One of our favorite episodes is when Charlie and Ivy's moms catch the teen girls in a lie, join them in line at the movie theater where they weren't supposed to be and start dancing and engaging in perfectly legal behavior that mortifies their daughter. Lesson learned.
Would you use the "Don't embarrass us and we won't embarrass you" approach with your kids? And would you take a page from the President's parenting playbook and get the same tattoo as your kid?
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Filed under: Parenting