Mocha Dad and Moms: Calling Your Child’s Bluff

Have I Created a Monster?

PamelaMKramer-author-of-A-Renaissance-Woman-We have a standard clean-up day at our house when the kids are expected to clean their rooms. On this particular day, my two youngest children decided they would “team up” and help each other. On the surface, this may sound like a good idea – two siblings working together to accomplish a task. However, it didn’t work out as expected.

In practice, one child helped the other until one room was finished. When it was time to move to the next room, one teammate bailed and the kids got into a heated argument about the unfairness of it all.

My four year old daughter recommended a solution to the stalemate. Instead of cleaning the room, she offered to “donate” her toys to charity. I’m a well seasoned Mom of four and this is not my first rodeo. Although I was frustrated and had reached the limits of my patience, I decided to call her bluff.

In August, our church is having a garage sale. It’s a perfect opportunity to donate the toys and give back to the community. It’s a win-win situation! My daughter was perfectly fine with this solution. In fact, she even taunted her two older brothers by saying, “I don’t have to clean my room! I’ll be the first one done and I’ll get to watch TV first!”

Listening to her bragging, made me wonder if calling her bluff was the right decision. Did I free up a little girl from the responsibility of owning too much stuff or did I create a monster who will shirk her responsibilities in the future?

Pamela M. Kramer is the owner of PMK Unlimited where she assists businesses with their online presence. She gives readers an inside look at the lifestyle and lessons learned from a modern, motivated, multitasking mom in Houston, TX on her blog A Renaissance Woman.

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The Natural Consequence

frederick j goodall mochadad 2My kids often test me. They like to see how far they can push me before I call their bluffs. However, they fail to realize that I’m not afraid to let them experience the natural consequences of their actions and choices.

Once, when I told my 12 year daughter to clean her room, she replied, “Why do I have to clean my room? Can’t I just keep it the way it is? It’s my room after all.” I was just about to go into my standard dad speech about her not paying the mortgage and her having to abide by my rules while living in my house, but I paused and thought about her comment for a minute.

To her surprise, I said, “You’re right. It’s your room. You don’t have to clean it anymore.”

“Are you serious?” she asked.

“Yes, I’m serious,” I said. “In fact, the new rule is that you cannot clean your room anymore.”

“Wait, what?” she said.

“From now on, your room will never be cleaned again,” I said as I exited.

After a few days, my daughter could no longer stand the squalor. I noticed her picking up her clothes off the floor and organizing her closet.”

“What’s going on in here?” I asked.

“Daddy, can I please clean my room?” she asked. “It’s getting too messy in here.”

“I thought you didn’t want to clean your room?” I asked.

“I don’t want to clean my room,” she said. “But I have to. I can’t keep living like this.

“If you insist,” I said. “Go ahead and clean your room.”

“Thanks, Daddy,” she said.

After she cleaned her room, she realized that she had been outsmarted.

“You tricked me,” she said.

“I didn’t trick you,” I said. “I granted your wish.”

She sighed and went back to her clean room.

Stay Strong,

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Question: Have you ever called your child’s bluff? Share your story.

Mocha Dad and Moms is a regular column where I discuss parenting topics with moms. If you’d like to be one of the featured moms, send me a message with your idea to fjgoodall@mochadad.com.

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About the author

Frederick J. Goodall is the founder of Mocha Dad - a parenting website focused on fatherhood. He is passionate about parenting and helping men to be great dads, husbands, and role models. You can contact him at fjgoodall@mochadad.com or on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/mochadad