How (definitely) Not to Parent


My awesome son, Charles and I went out for Ice Cream today. How sweet. (we had a gift certificate, so it cost us all of eight cents –I am not exaggerating… eight. cents.– … here’s my official public anonymous thank you to the wonderful person who gave that to us.)

As we walk away from the counter, we notice another kid about Charles’ age who has the largest banana split ever in front of him. It probably weighed eight pounds (exaggeration alert). And he’s making headway, but both Charles and I know he can’t finish it. In fact, we know that all three of us together can’t finish it. (Charles says as much to me.) About the time we finish, his mom comes over and takes what he can’t eat, and throws it away, saying, “Well, that is the last time, ever, in your life, that you are getting a banana split.” (I don’t remember the exact words, but I promise you, that was the exact sentiment. And she said it twice for emphasis.)

I wanted to scream, slap the mom, and tell the boy, “Buddy, be cool. You WILL be allowed to have ice cream again. Even if I have to buy it for you,” and then I wanted to scream and slap the mom again…

Wisely… I kept silent (not one of my gifts… but I did.)

There are at least two possibilities. One… the mom let the kid have whatever he wanted and gave no guidance. Two… that the kid ordered something too big and got frustrated, and the mom got frustrated. There’s more, but how much do you really want to read tonight… huh?

Either way… something that was supposed to be joy for a kid turned into torment. I don’t normally fault parents but in this case, I have to think… “What the heck were you thinking? Guide your kid. PLEASE! Say… ‘Son, that’s too big, you’re not getting that, here’s what you’re getting'”. Or… if it works out bad, don’t promise the kid that he’ll never have Ice Cream again (no doubt what he heard… even if it wasn’t exactly what was said)… and turn this wonderful joyful experience into a living nightmare… for goodness’ sake…

Charles ordered, under my guidance, something just the right size for him (but was still sugared up the rest of the afternoon… which was actually a great time for both of us. I re-strung a guitar and watched a concert with him. TobyMac… one of both of our favorites.) We had a totally awesome father/son moment and, yes, I had Ice Cream, too. DUH! (yeah, I got sugared up, too. That’s all the world needs. Me and Charles both sugared up at the same time… but that’s another blog post.) That kid went home and sat and stewed and is now afraid of ice cream… maybe afraid of going out for ice cream with the very people who he’s supposed to share the most love and joy with… Scarred for life? I dunno… but, you know what? Maybe…

Maybe it was a bad day for the mom, maybe it was a worse than bad day… (I’ve had some really crummy days lately, so I know of what I speak here.) maybe there is more going on than I know… I recognize that… but for goodness sake… please… do NOT turn ordinary kid-joy moments into nightmares… Just… don’t… Trust me, I’ve made boneheaded parenting moves, and I haven’t been a parent for long, so I’m no expert… but I do know… this was worse than stupid. It was nuts.

Guide your kid… into joy… into good choices… into life… not into fear… especially fear of ice cream. And if he messes up, don’t tell him he can never have a banana split again as long as he lives.


One thought on “How (definitely) Not to Parent

  1. Diane London says:

    Wow…it’s amazing how parents can do that. I’ve witnessed a mother yelling at her daughter because she kept getting in the way of her shopping cart! I learned a long time ago that when I go shopping (when my kids were too big to be in the cart and wanting some freedom to walk) that they walked beside the shopping cart and held on to the side with one hand so I didn’t run over them (then there were the times that the boys wanted to play superman on the bottom of the cart! 🙂 Those were the days! I have this thing that I tell my children No and I explain why and if they choose to do it, (and it isn’t really going to hurt them too bad…) I let them follow through and “learn” that exact lesson I told them to be careful of. Just like hot water, don’t touch! Ya… I think sometimes little kids think No means Yes! But all in all, now that my children are growing up, I get saddened that Danielle and Jessica are in 10th and 11th grade this year…my how the time has flown! We are to guide them and always be there to encourage them ❤

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