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The “I Don’t Want To!” Blues- Teaching Kids WANT Vs. NEED

When it comes to the fine art of raising children, I find that I walk a fine line between wanting to let them just be tightkids, and not wanting them to be dicks. Most of these days, it feels like a tightrope balancing act. The damn line isn’t just fine, it’s fuzzy. Sometimes I’d swear it’s even invisible. This line is a bitch, but it’s one that most of us parents dare to cross on a daily basis. I do my best not to OVER-parent them. I absolutely want them to learn some things for themselves, to test certain boundaries, and to understand that sometimes rules have to be followed to a T, and sometimes they can be bent or broken- but damn if it isn’t the most INFURIATING thing to try to do.  I want them to be independent, but not SO much so that they refuse to ever ask for help because they think asking for help is “wrong”. I want them to ask for help, but never so often that it makes them completely helpless. Like I said- a frickin’ tightrope!

Over years of annoyance, the word “NO!” when being screeched from a child’s mouth has become less like nails on a chalkboard, and more of a bad joke. A failed punchline. I never thought I’d see the day where the 500th NO didn’t make me want to scream, but it appears I’ve finally reached the next level of parenthood. As if NO is going to work on me, kids. You gotta do better than that!

For as smart as he is, Holden never figured that out, but Parker…. Parker was always the observer. He spent the time that would usually be spent as a toddler jibber-jabbering me to death, watching and learning. I’d come to believe that he was simply being a stubborn shit, but he was just sitting there, plotting. While Holden was still using the “NO!” approach (and failing miserably), Parker only tried it a few times before realizing it was never going to work, and switching tactics. That was when we entered a whole new realm of childhood obnoxiousness. One I had not yet prepared myself for, because I’d unwisely gotten used to just hearing “NO”. I get the feeling this was all part of Parker’s sneaky observant little plan.

Ringing through my house like a chorus of assholes, all day every day, all I hear is “I don’t WANT to!” It’s not like I’m asking the kid to perform brain surgery or help dispel the dogs anal gland. It’s over stupid menial shit that he HAS to do, like brushing his teeth, or flushing the mother badword toilet. Things he did before without complaint, he now responds to with “I don’t WANT to”. As if his want is more important than the fact that these things need to be done? As if him not WANTING to brush his teeth is going to make me throw up my hands and say “Oh, fine! We’ll just let your teeth rot out of your head!”
Does he ACTUALLY think he will get that kind of result, or does he just think he can annoy me enough with something new that I will give in?

Of course I don’t want to riddle and overcomplicate his life with responsibility and work when he should be spending much of his days learning, exploring, and playing- but if he doesn’t learn that WANT does not trump NEED and just because he doesn’t WANT to do something doesn’t mean he doesn’t NEED to, he’s likely to turn into a spoiled little…. well, dick. I’d be falling off the tightrope if I just caved and never made him do things he doesn’t want to do. Unfortunately, even when we’re kids, it’s not all about fun- but doing the NEEDS doesn’t have to feel like a need. It’s a part of life. It’s not even important enough to be wasting time arguing with him about how he doesn’t want to do it. I guess we also need to have a lesson on choosing his battles wisely.

The moral of the story is….. I don’t know. I really don’t. Life’s a bitch? You are not the sun, the world doesn’t revolve around you? Life’s tough, get a helmet? Needs are more important than wants? The grass is always….. no… that’s not right.

Wait! I’ve got it- Kids- you can have all the fun in the world, AFTER you’ve brushed your teeth. It’s that simple!

Posted on May 12, 2015 by Holdin' Holden 1 Comment
Holdin' Holden

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  • loved this blog. I am going through the whole I don’t want to with my 4 year old.. eventually she resorts to “its too harddd” bs.. Which drives me up the damn wall! I’m asking her to pick up her toys.. simple right? well for my 4 year old its tooo hard. So I’ve started packing up the toys and storing them in the basement until she learns.. if she wants something, she;s going to have to work for it