So, what more can be said about parents? As we’ve seen, all types have their drawbacks, but on the whole they do their best, and remember, one day you might be a parent yourself, so cut them a little slack.
Will never be heard to say: “You know very well that’s what
we always/never do in this in this house.”
Probably the trickiest parents to manage are the inconsistent. They swing from strict to easy- going with the ease of a pendulum. One minute there’s no way you’ll be allowed to go to the roller disco even for ten minutes while the next it’s of course you can go and here’s a tenner to get yourself a taxi home. Confusing, eh?
The cause of this erratic parenting is lack of confidence. If you need to confirm this, just look at your parents’ book shelves, which will be full of guides on how to raise a child. From Negotiating with Your Infant or Gentle Ways to Nurture Your Child; to the more didactic Show Your Baby Who’s Boss From Day One, or I’m the Parent Get Used to It. Clearly there’s a world of difference between these approaches, but the inconsistent parents have never found the confidence to plump for one over the other.
So now you know what’s at the root of their unpredictability, how do you manage it? Observation is crucial. When making requests, for example, you may find your mum is most co-operative after a glass of wine (relaxed) and strictest when your grandmother is around (tense). Your dad, on the other hand, if he’s a football fan, will almost certainly give you what you want when his team has won a match, but don’t be tempted to put in requests at half time, because even if his team is winning, if the midfield are passing badly and allowing the opposition too much room, he’ll be anxious so will probably say no.
One other thing to bear in mind is manners. You’ll always get a better result if you avoid muttering darkly, frowning until your face resembles a gnome’s and screaming like a banshee. Try biting your tongue if at first your request is denied. A sweet smile and a remark such as “Oh, well, just thought I’d ask,” will always undermine a parent’s confidence in their decision – and with luck, they’ll feel so guilty they’ll change their mind. Because if there’s one thing you can rely on with inconsistent parents, it’s their changeability.
The shelves of book stores groan with guides to bringing up children, but are there any that help children deal with their parents? NO. Why is this? Frankly it’s to do with cold hard cash. Who has the most money in your family? That’s right – your parents, and they will part with quite a lot of it for a book that shows them how to keep you in your place. Is that fair? Of course not.
But help is at hand. The following series of articles will
help you identify the type of parent you’ve got, because while parents are all
different, they can be divided into
certain categories. And different types need different handling techniques.
Part 1: The Slapdash
Parents: Will never be heard to say: Have you done your homework?
Slapdash parents were once referred to as laid back, and can be identified by a very relaxed attitude to bringing you up – that is they will put as little effort into it as humanly possible. They will never intrude into your territory unless invited, and will never demand you tidy your room. They will seldom, if ever, order you to go to bed at a sensible time, or have a bath or shower; even your dental hygiene may be left entirely up to you. Their communication with your school teachers will be so rare, information about your misdeeds will not reach them, unless you’re the school criminal, and even if it does, they’re unlikely to do much about it, agreeing with you that whatever you did wasn’t your fault and punishing you would be unfair (and too much effort on their part.)
This may sound like paradise, and it is, until the following
things happen – rats occupy your bedroom to feast on the mouldering junk food
on the dirty plates; you’re so tired you fall asleep in lessons and fail all
your exams; you believe you will never ever be punished for anything at all, no
matter what you did; your teeth drop out and everyone avoids you and calls you
Stinky. Obviously, these are outcomes to avoid. So how do you get slapdash
parents to take more responsibility without turning your life into a rigidly
supervised jail sentence?
The obvious answer is to take some responsibility for
yourself – but unfortunately that means acting more like a parent than your
parents, and what kid wants that? So, there are two things you need to do. The
first is to increase their energy levels. Vitamin tablets are relatively cheap
and might just be the pick-me-up they need to make them put in a bit more
effort. In tandem with this, work on their guilt levels. An official looking
letter from school implying a visit from a social worker is imminent often has
the desired effect. (If you can snaffle a piece of school headed paper to write
it on, so much the better.) Results should be rapid. You can expect to find
your school uniform washed and ironed and your room fumigated and its unwelcome
residents expelled. Further, those parental slips giving permission for you to
attend fun school events will be signed. And you may find after a few shower
and toothbrush reminders you’ve gained some friends.