Periodically, I get a brave teenager who wants to befriend me on Facebook. I say ‘brave’ because they first will have to put up with my frequent uncool posts. The ones where I take a picture of the lava lamp by my desk and speak in terms of “groovy.” Or the ones where I post pictures of my Sugar Gliders doing cute things. Sugar Gliders are cute, but definitely not cool.
The worst is where I make some sort of dorky crack on their posts. Recently, a FB friend, whom shall remain nameless, posted that she was having an argument with her mom. First came the cracks:
But then, other people were posting some serious stuff and I felt guilty having sooo much wisdom to share and only making jokes, so I posted the following:
It started me thinking. I wonder if this girls’ mom would be ok with me telling her daughter how to assert herself and essentially ‘argue’ better? Then I thought, do I help my kids learn how to argue/negotiate well? I should.
So I think it’s part of our job as Dads to help our children learn how to beat us, out argue us, out negotiate us, and eventually get their way — especially when ‘their way’ is with the character we’ve instilled.
I want my kids to someday have a job and to not take “no” for an answer. And rather than them do something immoral or illegal, I want them to make a good solid firm case on how they can achieve their goals.
My wife frequently argues with her brother about typical sibling rivalry. My brother-in-law maintains that my wife, Giselle, was the ‘golden child’ and never got in trouble. My wife counters back that if she wanted something, she learned how to make a good case for it. My brother-in-law would want to go to a High School party. He would ask, the parents would say no, and so he would sneak out . . . which eventually would have him be ‘in trouble’ and grounded.
My wife would ask to go to the party, then submit several proofs on how she would remain safe, presented an action plan for any contingencies, offered to call upon arrival and departure, and assured them that she had the goals and morals they had taught her.
So, of course they said yes to allow her to go to the party.
[Yes, I married the “golden child.”]
And her experience is a good one for us as parents. Let’s all agree to teach our kids how to make a good case for what they want. How to:
- Present a logical argument — I tell my kids the “everyone’s doing it” argument is horrible. They need to come up with something better if they want to justify what they want.
- Prove that they have the same goals and values that you have taught them.
- Be proactive — your kids have learned your concerns, so they should think ahead and take them into account.
- Use Timing — kids need to learn the right time to ask things. Teach them when people respond the most favorably.
In general, teaching this kind of arguing skill helps kids solidify that you love them. It prompts them to think of how you are trying to keep them safe and are concerned for their well-being.
So, to sum up this article: If you are a teen, don’t be my FB friend.
And, actually, more to the point: Don’t be my FB friend unless you want me to tell you how to beat your parents. . . . Or unless you really like Sugar Glider pictures.
Brad Washburn is a father, husband, and Director of a Christian counseling center in Tampa, Florida. He has helped hundreds of people over the last 15 years. In particular, he desires to see fathers be “men after God’s own heart” — a description of King David in the Bible who was a lover, fighter, sheep herder, and harp player . . . . Find out more at www.pathseekercenter.org