Dad justs wants a little respect, but does he give it?

It can be hard to accept that you are often not THE decision maker in a lot of circumstances. Let me give an example from my role as a Dad. I get my two younger girls ready for their day care in the morning. They have been pushing for me to allow them where open-toe sandals. It is against the rules at their day care, but they insist that their friends are doing it. I say no. They get upset the way little kids do – tantrums and whining. It brought a lot of aggravation for the last few weeks to the morning routine. I stick to saying no, and almost every morning is a battle.

I like to see myself as THE decision maker in this situation. But in reality, these kids have other decision makers in their lives – their pre-k teachers. They have not been enforcing the rules on sandals lately, and my girls see this, and they want to take advantage. So now it becomes clear what I ought to do –   bring this to the other decision makers. Obvious – right?

 So it all worked out once my vision of the real problem became uncluttered.   I kick myself a little bit, though, because if I had sat down after the first tantrum and systematically looked at the negotiation I was in, I would have easily identified that I was not THE decision maker. Instead, my emotions got the best of me. I saw myself  as THE DAD, THE DECISION MAKER, and I told myself that if they respected me, they would accept what I said, and that if they didn’t respect me, they would eventually learn to respect me because I was not going to give in. I got caught up.

 See how emotions made me blind to something that would be so obvious to an outsider looking in?

I am sure many parents would have picked up on this right away, but let’s face it, we all have our blind spots.  I think we all could benefit from having at our fingertips a systematic way to expand our vision as efficiently as possible to compensate for the blind spots that lead us to do harm to our loved ones. 

 I had the system at my fingertips and failed to use it! Sitting down and thinking about this situation through the lens of negotiation seemed like overkill to me. I was so wrong. I squandered needless time, energy, and emotion.  My wife even went out and bought closed toe sandals for the girls, but they were still not satisfied! What satisfied them was my respecting their right to say no to me and letting them make their case to the alternate source of authority. Their teacher apologized to me for the inconsistent enforcement of the rule, and in a gentle and firm manner, told the girls they had to follow the rule. They accepted the decision very graciously and respectfully.

 So here is the mistake I made: I thought I had this covered. How could I not? I am a sensible guy and a good guy.  

 I did not have it covered.

 I want you to avoid this mistake, but if you are anything like me, it will be VERY hard for you to admit when you are making it, and even harder for you to accept what you will have to do to correct it.


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