When My Child Asked for an iPod, Here’s What I Said…

Last week I wrote about how my junior high daughter creatively and proactively asked for an iPod by preparing a well-thought-out list of answers to concerns she thought I might have. Here’s the rest of the story!

My daughter’s proactive list was a breath of fresh air and showed me a growing capacity in her to think more broadly about the impact of purchasing the iPod. Her pleasant, non-demanding tone was another sign of her maturity and thoughtful processing of the situation.

Some parents may believe that asking for the iPod in such an impressive manner should gain her access to it immediately. She deserves it, right? Others may view it as a form of my daughter manipulating me to get what she really wanted and saying yes will only mean more of this new “tactic”.

But here’s what happened in our situation:

Following the initial discussion, my wife and I told her we would discuss it and let her know our thoughts while affirming her helpful approach.

After some deliberation, we came back and offered a few questions for her to consider, assuring her that we would like her to have the iPod as well, so long as she could use it responsibly:

  • How would you rate your responsibility level around the house with your chores, where 0 is “I don’t do any of my chores and I get angry when someone asks me to do them” and 10 is “I consistently do my chores without reminders and can accept a gentle nudge without a blow up?” (Further discussion ensued regarding her number of an 8 and our number of a 5.)
  • How would you rate your responsibility level for taking care of your school responsibilities? (Further discussion ensued regarding her number of an 8 and our number of a 9.)
  • Do you believe that having the iPod would likely raise, lower, or not affect the numbers of the previous questions? (Further discussion ensued regarding her belief it would not affect the number and our belief it would.)

In the end, we agreed that the iPod would not be purchased until the issue of chores gained a little more consistency. As parents, we decided we were going to need to agree with our daughter’s 8, and we discussed some practical ways that she could attain that 8 over the next couple months.

My strong parenting belief is that responsibility always comes before freedom. One of my roles as a parent is to help my kids understand this essential reality in life, but also to help them build the skills they need to grow into responsibility.

As parents, it’s easy to tell and lecture. I still get in that mode at times. However, if we are looking to effectively guide our kids, it’s important that we have a more thoughtful and engaging approach to help our kids to truly grow in wisdom.

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