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News from the Nest: Bribery not so bad after all

If you Google "parenting styles," the most common answers include Authoritarian, Authoritative, Permissive and Uninvolved. I took a quiz, cheesy I know, to see which style fits me best. I was 100 percent Authoritative, which in my opinion was a good score. Apparently the Authoritarian just screams at their children for everything and the Permissive doesn't require any respect at all. The Uninvolved, well, that's pretty self-explanatory. As an Authoritative parent I am "more likely to control her child by setting rules and explaining why these rules are important and why they must be followed." Wow, that sounds good doesn't it?

Although I guess I'm grateful for being Authoritative, I really think there should be another category. I personally would like to add Bribery to the list. One definition of bribe I found was "to try to make someone do something for you by giving them money, presents or something else that they want." Yep, pretty much sums up my parenting style. To help you further understand this style, let me give you some examples.

If you get dressed in the next three minutes I'll let you watch cartoons.

If you eat four more bites of your food, then you can have dessert.

If you clean up your toys, then you can play outside.

You can have a piece of, gum but only if you go to the bathroom and wash your hands first.

If you behave during Sunday School, we'll go to Dairy Queen.

If you have a good week at daycare, then we'll get that new toy you want.

For a while, I felt like bribing my kids was horrible parenting. That was, until I realized almost everyone does it, and it usually works. Some experts say you should be able to ask your kids to complete a task, then present the reward AFTER they complete that action without having to tell them what the possible reward could be prior to them deciding whether or not they would do what you asked. Huh? And who are those kids anyway?

Let's be honest here. Not many adults will do something for the sheer fact that someone else told them to do it, there needs to be some benefit to make it worthwhile. Maybe that benefit is material or maybe just a feeling of "it's the right thing to do," but still a benefit in the end.

Our daughter doesn't understand all of the bribes quite yet, but at five years old our son is catching on. He had an "ah ha" moment after a recent bribe, "every time I want something, you make me do what you asked me to do first, before I get what I want." Touché my love, touché.