Multiple Choice Parenting

1. Gleek lays on the couch with tears in the corners of her eyes. “I don’t want to go to New School anymore. I want to go back to Old School!”

  • A. I feel guilty and worried about what I have done to her, and wonder if I have made the right choice.
    B. I quiz her about what is wrong with New School so that I can offer reasonable counter arguments and examples.
    C. I remind her of the reasons we felt like this shift was the right thing to do.
    D. I suppress any sympathy I may feel and simply order her to get ready.
    E. I listen to her feelings and validate them while trying to find rewards which will cajole her toward attending school.

2. Kiki has to sort out a relationship with a friend at school which suddenly became much more emotionally complicated and tangled.

  • A. Listen to her feelings and then offer advice.
    B. Listen to her feelings and then keep my advice to myself because she needs to sort this out for herself.
    C. Tell her she is borrowing trouble or making a big deal out of nothing.
    D. Tell her how to solve the problem and then make her do it instead of wallowing in indecision.

3. Patch comes down to Writer’s Group coughing and lolls on the floor like a limp fish after he has already been tucked into bed twice.

  • A. Scowl at him and order him back to bed.
    B. Get up and get him some cough medicine then walk him back to bed.
    C. Recognize that the real issue is not the cough, but some emotional need. Excuse myself from Writer’s Group and spend 20 minutes wearing my psychologist hat to sort it out.
    D. Ask Link to help him so that I can focus on the critique I am supposed to be giving.

4. Link decides that he wants to go to the store and spend his own money on a game. He wants to go right now and when asking me produces a “not right now” answer, proceeds to hover where he can see me change activities. This way he can ambush me with “Can we go now?” every time I walk past.

  • A. Continue to answer “not right now” because he keeps interrupting my thought processes at moments when I can’t think through what would be a good time to go.
    B. Sit down to explain that a trip to the store rearranges my already-tight afternoon schedule. Then have to witness his sadness and disappointment.
    C. Take time to schedule exactly when we can go. Then witness his disappointment when the answer is to go some other day.
    D. Tell him to stop it, because he is being annoying.
    E. Sigh and say “fine” then take him to the store.

Any of the above answers can be right for any of the above questions depending upon context, fatigue levels, ancillary circumstances, and the number of people nearby to observe the interaction.

What? You thought parenting had clear answers? Not in my experience.