I think one of the true keys to successful parenting is to make sure that your kids believe that you are capable of anything. No I do not mean you have to be superwoman or superdad. I find that when kids have a healthy respect of what you “might” do it alleviates and contributes to the on-going battles of discipline. Sometimes you have to show your kids visibly just how far you will go to make your point, get their attention or follow through on your threat. This is an ongoing effort starting very young and lasting well, as long as they live under your roof.
Every now and then it is important to remind them just how crazy and capable you are…. Recently, one of my children has entered a “you are embarrassing just by existing” phase. You know he would rather have people believe he was hatched in the forest than admit to having parents. Driving him to play practice the other day he was being particularly obnoxious about not needing/wanting parental input. It was really starting to get on my nerves. I have worked too hard for too long to be suddenly disowned by this prepubescent. I fired a warning shot into the back seat, “you have no idea how embarrassing I can be”. Silly boy, he continued with his obnoxious behavior until we pulled up in front of the school. A school with a large courtyard full of junior and senior high school students milling about and waiting for rides. A school with a long sidewalk to walk along until you reach the front door. As my son exited the van and slammed it shut like he had never seen me before in his life, I rolled down the window and in my loudest, whiniest voice I yelled…”Good-bye honey, have fun at play practice, I hope you know all of your lines, I will be right here waiting at 5:00 pm, Have fun!” At which point he started to run towards the front door.
Days later when I dropped him off at play practice, he looked at me with a smile and said “that was pretty good the other day, but please don’t ever do it again. I was obnoxious and it won’t happen again.” I smiled and said, ‘no problem, I thought it was sufficiently embarrassing myself.” You see it was very easy, one they always underestimate your willingness to embarrass yourself and two there is nothing a middle school kid won’t do to avoid embarrassment themselves. Peace has returned to the valley, at least for now.