What I Learnt Not to do From My Parents About Parenting part 1

Needless conflict

When I was a little boy I liked the colour pink and I wanted to have long hair.  My mum fought valiantly against this.  Every chance she had she tried to convince me that pink wasn’t a good colour to like and that long hair didn’t look good on boys.  As you can guess this was a major point of contention between us.  From my mum’s perspective I was being decidedly unmanly.  She wouldn’t have put it in those words though because she is university professor in gender studies and would balk at realising that she had been engaging in gender construction.  My liking of pink didn’t really have any consequences.  I had no interest in clothes shopping and if I was given money it would go towards buying lego but the length of my hair was a monthly argument.

As a sidebar as a child I never based my actions, likes or dislikes on gender.  For me I was a boy therefore everything I did was what boys did.  It was a perfect bit of logic which led to many moments of frustration at other people’s gender obsession.

Onto the hair fight; From as far back as I can remember I wanted long hair. The reason was simple.  I thought short hair looked stupid.  It was purely a style thing.  I hated the way I looked with short hair and loved the way I looked with long hair.  For my mum it was the other way round.   Looking back on the whole situation it seems unreasonably stupid.  Simply because it was an unnecessary conflict made all the more unnecessary because it wasn’t backed with any kind of logic. Both of our positions were purely subjective and thus we were unable to convince each other of our position.

What can be taken away from this?  As mentioned this is a case of unnecessary conflict.  There was no reason to have this conflict and all it did was create bad blood.  If you are having a conflict with your child ask yourself what is the conflict about?  Why is it important to me and why is it important to my child?   The last question is in fact the most important.  Children are logical thinking beings.  There position on things is just as logical and reasonable as yours.  Their logic may be childish and a little foolish but they have still thought it out.  If you are going into direct conflict with something they believe you should give them a good reason.  You should back it up with logic.  If your logic is based purely on your own subjective experience then it probably is going to be a prolonged and ultimately useless conflict.  Since it is just a matter of opinion.  Any conflict where your logic is “because i think it looks dumb.” Will not go well.

As a parent I won’t tell my children that they need to do something without giving my reasons why.  If mum had asked those questions I had written above she’d probably have stopped arguing.  Her answers would have been “It’s about the length of my son’s hair.  It’s important to me because long hair doesn’t suit him.  It’s important to him because he thinks short hair doesn’t suit him.”  I say she would have stopped arguing because neither side is right or wrong.  We had opposing perspectives that were part of who we were.   Which is the crux of this lesson.  If you sit down, think about the conflict and try to get to the core of it you may realise that your position is just as childishly illogical as your child’s.

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