Negotiating with Terrorists. Er, uhm, Children.

This post is in response to something I see every day in online parenting posts, paraphrased below:

“Negotiating with children is like negotiating with terrorists.  It doesn’t work. You tell children what to do, not negotiate with them.”

That’s awesome if you’re raising gas station attendants. I think they still have those in New Jersey. But be aware, those jobs are going the way of the typewriter repair man. This is the gist of Raising Linchpins, right here.  We must prepare our children for more than that for which we were prepared, where finding the “right career/job” meant lifelong stability and security. Those jobs are going, going, gone. And being a middle manager wasn’t that great anyway.

I negotiate with my children all day, every day. I’m a lawyer, so I like to think they are challenged to think harder, bigger, and faster, and in a safe environment. And when they get out into the world (as Soleil already has), and someone challenges their world view, or their business idea, or their method of programming, or their art, they will be ready, because I did not tell them what to do.  I did not negate back talk, but I do frame it differently than my parents.  My children may “advocate their position.”  They must request the opportunity to do so in a manner they’ve learned.


It looks like this, and yes this is real, from last night:

Me: Bed! Bed! Bed!

Finn: I need to advocate my position.

Me: Does it include staying up later?

Finn: It does.

Me: Go.

Finn: I’d like to be half way through my book for my book report when I put it down tonight. I’ll feel good about that. I have ten more pages to half way and I think that will take ten minutes.

Me: Make it happen, Captain.

And this is the real world application, also real, from Kindergarten:

Teacher (frustrated): Girl Student in Kindergarten Class, pick up those Legos right now!

Finn: May I advocate for her, please?

Teacher (yes, floored): Yes?

Finn: She wasn’t the one to pour them out. It was another student. May I help her pick them up?

Teacher: Yes.

Gas station attendant? Typewriter salesman? Or Linchpin?

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