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Wednesday, June 13, 2018

The Stronghold Approach to Parenting

In 2005, when our kids were young, a Disney movie came out called Sky High starring Kurt Russell and Kelly Preston. It's a great flick which documents the challenges of being the child of a superhero. The pressure these poor kids face! Many of them have not grown into their powers yet, such is the story of our young protagonist, Will Stronghold. Will feels the pressure most acutely since his
parents, Commander Steve (Russell) and Jet Stream Josie (Preston) are the most respected superheros in the community. Just as it seems Will is destined to become a sidekick, his power comes in. With his new, extraordinary strength, Will gets himself into trouble by having a party to celebrate. His parents are torn between being proud of his newfound power and being upset over the party. Here's a snippet of the scene:

The Commander: Son, I'm only going to ask you this –

Will: Dad, I swear, I didn't plan this.

The Commander: All right. That's good enough for me. Hmm?

Jet Stream: Steve, I've got half a mind not to let him go to homecoming!

Will: That's fine; I'm not going anyway.

The Commander: Whoa-whoa-whoa-whoa. Your mom said she had "half a mind"!

I think about that scene all the time, often finding myself caught between proud and pissed. Like  Commander Steve, I can easily be convinced to let things go. Some of you might've picked that up from previous posts. I just might be the world's worst disciplinarian. Case in point:

Yesterday I'm checking on Cole's eBay account to see if anyone has bid on his indoor soccer cleats (size 11, hardly worn, great condition, call me if you're interested). As I'm scrolling through his account, I notice some purchases. Unauthorized purchases my son absolutely does not need and should not have. So we have a talk. I tell him I'm disappointed. He apologizes and recognizes the error of his ways.

I feel as if we've had this conversation before. But I believe my son has remorse. I'm glad to be done with our talk.

The same night, Cole texts me after soccer tryouts. He and his buddies are going to a town that I'm guessing is imbued with the scent of females. He also mentions he's gonna stay over at Michael's house. This is not a request for permission. It's a statement.

Now, wait a darn minute. He just got in trouble today! Who does he think he is, telling me what's going on? I would set him straight.

I called him. Texting is for the weak! I told him there was no way he could stay over at his pal's house. He wasn't out of the woods from that eBay stunt! He didn't argue one bit. I end the conversation by reminding him to be home by midnight. Have fun and be careful. Love ya.

Half a mind.

As I laid in bed on a worknight, wishing to be asleep, waiting for the sound of Cole's car to pull in, I wanted to slap myself. Be home by midnight? What about come home right now? He was in trouble!

Half a mind.

They got their powers at a young age.
Once I asked my kids why must I ask them seventeen times before they will even consider emptying the dishwasher. I got a quick response. "Sorry, Mom. You're just not that threatening." Not a bad point. I suppose my commands are undermined by the giggles I can't seem to hold back. I realize how my lack of discipline could've created a couple of monsters. Luckily, they have a father who has no problem pulling out the sternness card.

Our kids are now 16 and 21. They seem to be pretty decent human beings. Maybe not superheros or sidekicks. But good people. Maybe it was my tolerant approach, like Commander Stronghold's. Or maybe it was their father's less-than-tolerant approach, like Jetstream Stronghold's. The answer seems to lie somewhere in the middle.

Half a mind. Not a bad technique.