If you have kids or transport some in your car, at some point you had to buckle one of them into the car. Eventually they’ll get to the age where they want to do it themselves.
At this point, you’re stuck with either doing it for them while they scream and yell at you saying “I wanna do it! I wanna do it!” or sitting there in the car for 10 minutes while you wait for them to buckle each piece. With any luck they’ll give up and let you finally help them.
Assuming you let them do it themselves, a day will come where you hop in the car and count on them to do their part. You’ll start driving to your destination, and at some point turn around and find out that THEY NEVER BUCKLED THEMSELVES UP!
Face it, this has happened to you. You’ll probably feel like a failure at this point. Or you’ll blame your kid and tell them “if you’re not going to do it then I’ll do it for you every time.” Or you could take the scared straight approach – “if we were in an accident you would have went through the windshield”. (That’s especially effective at our house since it happened to my wife when she was younger and has the scars to prove it. If only she pulled out the pictures.)
The point is that you will make mistakes with your kids. Along the way, you’ll assume that you’ve screwed them up for good. Hopefully you didn’t (you probably didn’t), but only time will tell.
(Of course, we’re perfect parents, which means that nothing described in the post above has happened to us personally.)
I’m convinced that almost every kid goes through pretty much the same phases as their growing up. Here’s just a small sample:
Expecting something to be bought for them every time you visit a store
Sneaking things that they know they should ask for
Not picking up after themselves
You get the idea. I made a point to only mention the bad ones. There are a tons more, some of them positive. For the bad ones, parents asks themselves “what did I do to make my kid do that?” or “what did I do wrong?”
Most people don’t encourage their children to whine when they’re younger. However, since I’m convinced that almost every kid goes through the same stages, I’m also convinced that how long they stay in each one and whether they’ll reach other phases is based on how we react to them.
Will your kids whine when they don’t get a car at age 16? I don’t know, did you buy them whatever they wanted when you went to the store when they were younger?
Will your kids experiment with drugs and alcohol, or go behind your back without telling you? How much did you let them get away with when they were younger without noticing?
We know how we want our kids to turn out when they get older. The question is whether we’re using these “opportunities” to shape them into becoming the people we want them to be.
I know personally, I probably fail when the opportunity presents itself to shape them more often than I succeed, but at least I’m trying and I realize what’s at stake.