Hey Moms, Stop Telling Your Kids ‘Wait Until Your Dad Hears About This!’

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“Wait until your dad hears about this,” the angry mom said through gritted to her obstinate child. I was sitting in the restaurant just a table away. It was impossible not to notice or overhear. The mom’s youngest child was making a typical toddler scene. We’ve all been there. The chair revolt, the food on the floor making it look like the aftermath of a crime scene, and the screaming. Oh, the screaming!

The public scene of it all makes it so much worse. No mother escapes having her child make a scene in public and the bewilderment of not knowing what to do to make it stop. Immediately. We want to crawl up in a ball and say to the world, “I really am a decent parent. And other than right now, my kid is a good kid!”

At her wit’s end, the mom in the restaurant threatened her child with the only ammunition she had left: the dad threat. The kid immediately began to cry and beg his mommy not to rat him out to daddy, the enforcer. The mom sat back down, seething, apologetic to those nearby and to the staff, and went back to eating her lunch. She had finally found the one thing to get her kid to tow the line. She had brought in back up. She had brought in the troops. And to a lot of moms, back up is dad.

I sat there listening thinking, “No! Don’t bring in the enforcer, be the enforcer!” Because I’ve been there myself and I bet so have you. I’ve been at my wit’s end with my kids. I’ve wanted someone else to have a behavior remedy because whatever I was doing was clearly not working. And because I had nothing else left in my mommy arsenal, I’ve issued the dad threat — and my kids have calmed down. Or, stopped doing whatever it is that I had asked them to do. And instead of feeling like I’d scored a small parenting victory, I felt defeated and angry at myself for selling myself out. And I vowed never to bring in daddy the enforcer again.

See, when we threaten our kids with daddy, we tell them that they don’t have to listen to us, the person standing right in front of them. We tell them that our word isn’t the final word. We tell them dad is the boss and mommy is just filling in until he gets home. We make dad more powerful than mom simply because we don’t know what else to say. And with each, “I’m going to call Daddy!” or “Wait until Dad hears about this,” our kids learn that mom’s word isn’t valuable. And with that they learn that mom isn’t as valuable as dad. They learn that because that’s what we’re telling them.

The truth is, moms, we don’t need to call in back up and we don’t need to call in the troops. There is no one more powerful than mom so we don’t need to threaten our kids with dad. We might not always have the answers, but our kids don’t need to know that. They just need to know that moms is as important as dad, because she is!

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