How I Stood My Ground (Eventually!) in the Face of My Daughter’s Negotiating

Posted March 20, 2009 by

Why is it so difficult to remember that as a parent, it is not my job to win popularity contests with my kids, especially when they want (or worse yet, feel entitled to) the latest gadget?

It doesn’t really matter what the identified object of desire is…I venture to say we have all lived some version of the following parental error.  See if you can relate…

The most recent object of my daughter’s desire (she is nine, what am I thinking?)  was an iPod Touch: the latest and greatest in songs, video, games and endless entertainment…and wireless for anyone (including me) if we happened to be in a wireless hotspot.

Always looking for an alternative to hosting too many kids for a birthday bash, I offered the party alternative of said electronic device recently in casual conversation.

“Hey Nicole, you can choose which you would rather have, an iPod Touch or a birthday party.” My line of reasoning? The cost was similar and the effort factor miles apart. I was correct in assuming she would choose the gadget to the gathering.

What I hadn’t counted on was her adept and persistent coaxing of said item far ahead of her actual birthday, which is not until May.  Guilt and gullibility were weaknesses she correctly identified and focused on in her bid to coax the item out of me sooner rather than later.

Several life events (including the sudden and unexpected death of my dad) have recently conspired to make me particularly vulnerable to taking the path of least resistance, which included walking into the Apple store and purchasing the IPod Touch for my daughter an entire two months prior to her birthday.

How does this happen?

“Mom, we’re right here…there isn’t an Apple store anywhere near where we live” ( a true statement; we live in the middle of nowhere…)

“Mom, you are so busy, this will keep me entertained” (but only after hours of loading the entertainment onto the device…)

“Mom, you are the best” (it is not our job to be our kid’s friends we must not abandon reason to flattery that is self serving…

And on and on…

And I fell for her persuasive arguments and gushing kindness hook, line and sinker.  Unfortunately they were short-lived, and buyer’s remorse set in. This was in large part due to her personality change from skillful and charming negotiator to an ungrateful and frustrated child. What had I done? How had I been bamboozled into this decision?

And more importantly, I thought, “Now what?”

I took the stand I should have and the one that would have been far more effective (and the one that falls into the recommended “do as I say and not as I do” category…) had I simply done the correct thing in the first place.

I took the electronic device back to the store, despite arguments, fits, and other red-headed strong-willed unsavory behavior and followed through with its return.

Yes, I had blown the initial opportunity for several lessons on how things work in the real world. Ugh. But I also realized that sometimes such decisions can also become opportunities to teach other lessons: Parents can and do make mistakes, but we still have the final say. We are still the parent, and the child the child, and we don’t always have to agree and they don’t always have to like our decision.

Remember, parenting isn’t a popularity contest. And isn’t always easy.  Can you relate?


Kathy has four children, aged 9, 12, 24 and 26. Her second son was seduced by marijuana when he was 16. Kathy is now a published author of "Winning the Drug War at Home". She is also a childbirth educator and is writing a pregnancy and childbirth book. Kathy graduated from Brown University with a degree in Health and Society, and also has a BSN in Nursing.

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