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Random thoughts from a woman in love

So after a few hours of “break time” from the video game/parenting argument, I told Steve that I would appreciate it if he would try a different approach with the kidlet because of concerns that his relationship with Jamie is headed in the wrong direction.  His approach to the problem would solve nothing and only lead to pouting and more resentment.

Steve started to get all huffy-puffy defensive about the subject and tried to put his foot down, but one question from me stopped him in his tracks. I asked, “Do you agree I did a good job of raising my son?”  Ooooh!  Left jab to the solar plexus! I knew the answer he would give – “Yes.”

He made excuses, “But Jamie is spoiled.  He doesn’t respect me and he lies.”  I bobbed out-of-the-way of that one and took a right jab at him. “Yep, you’re right. He learned that behavior from a lazy mother who won’t discipline him and from a part-time father who parents by yelling all the time.  We are here to teach him better behavior. ”

After 10 more minutes of jabs and counter jabs, Steve finally told me, with tears in his eyes, “I don’t know what to do.  He hates me.” I did what no boxer in her right mind would do – I dropped my guard, hugged him tight and asked him to trust me.  I proceeded to lay out the plan, and he agreed to try it.  Round Two was over and I had won!

Jamie’s mother, God bless her, dropped of Jamie’s stuff the next morning.  Included in the “stuff” was the dreaded X-box, despite the fact we asked her to not bring it.  Ok – so we have some issues THERE, but we’ll address those another time.

When Jamie arrived later in the day, Steve very calmly explained to Jamie why he didn’t like the video games.  He then told Jamie that we have a new rule in the house, effective immediately:  Jamie would only be allowed to play video games for one hour each day, after homework and chores.  The game controller would be locked away when not in use.  Jamie angrily demanded that he be taken home because the rule was “stupid” and “not fair”.  We explained there would be no negotiating this rule and he would not be taken home.  He had a choice – one hour of games each day or none.  Calling his father or me names or throwing a temper tantrum would only result in no video games for the day; trying to negotiate a longer play time would result in no video play time for the weekend.  He quit his arguing and stomped off to his room to pout.

Dinner was a very, very quiet event.  After dinner, Steve handed Jamie the game controller, and told Jamie he would come get it back in one hour.  Steve also reminded him of the consequences of trying to negotiate a longer play time.  I was so proud of Steve – he did not raise his voice and remained very neutral as he restated the rules.  Woohoo!  As Jamie shut his bedroom door, Steve turned to me and said, “That felt good.  He seemed to listen to me.”  Yes, he did.

After the longest hour on record, Steve went upstairs, opened Jamie’s door and asked for the game controller.  Jamie sighed and rolled his eyes, told his online friends he had to go, and handed over the controller.  Oh my God! There was no argument (there was attitude, as we expected).  Steve thanked Jamie.

After he put away the controller, Steve invited Jamie to come downstairs to play Monopoly or Scrabble with us.  “Oh man! You are so going to be toast, dad!” Jamie yelled as he raced downstairs to get the Monopoly game board. We had a happy, laughter-filled competitive game of Speed-Monopoly, and Steve was “toast” at the end of the game.

As Jamie performed his victory dance around the kitchen, I had to smile and dance a little in my head.  Both the father and son had learned a lesson that day.  Thankfully, the rest of the weekend went the same way.  No arguments, no yelling and lots more fun than we had together in a long time.  Steve controlled his temper and Jamie responded so perfectly, it was like he was a new kid.  Boundaries do work, folks – for the parent AND the child.  I’m sure things won’t always go so smoothly, but we’ll keep working on those boxing…ummm…parenting skills and see how things go.  I think I won this match.

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