The Puppetry of Parenting

So this title sounds strange right.  Parents as puppets, no, children as puppet masters, yes.  I was talking to a friend of mine this morning and he is getting married next year.  He has no children and is in his late twenties.  He works hard and has decided to make a leap to get married next year to a young woman who is younger than him.  As we chatted this morning, I had an epiphany, children are puppet masters.  They are!  Follow me on this one and you will understand what I mean.

My children are puppet masters and they are good at what they do.  They pull my emotional strings with the emotional currency that they have created.  Now remember, there is one of me and three of them.  So my son uses his big brown eyes and some times his anger, my youngest uses her intelligence to try to snow ball me, and my oldest, she has so much ammo in her emotional arsenal, it is hard to keep up sometimes and when I have figured out every bullet, she finds a new one.  So when they feel like it, they drop kick that emotional button in my brain to make me do what they want me to do.  They are the puppet masters and they pull my strings.  Sometimes, it works.  Those time are when I am too tired to fight with them anymore, other times, I beat them to the punch before they can use my mothering instincts to get what they want.

So as my friend and I discussed this, he was emphatic that he would not go there with his kid.  He would set boundaries early. That’s right, we as parents set boundaries early, but those boundaries change.  As those boundaries evolve, our children evolve.  Even those with disabilities, some know where that emotional button is in the brain and they kick it and they kick it hard and we don’t even realize that we are being puppeted until it is all over.  Kids are brilliant little creatures and thinking back on my child hood, I was too afraid of my parents and grandparents to attempt to grow half a brain and try the stuff that kids try today.


So this is what I say about parenting.  We are puppets, but we don’t always have to be puppets.  There is time when the simple things are okay to give in about.  I have learned this.  Then there are other times when they are not, such as chores, bad behavior, education, and homework.  I am often told that I’m not the cool parent.  Fine, I wear that title of the uncool parent in my house proudly given that I’m the only parent in my house.  I tell my children everyday that being in your home as a child is a dress rehearsal for life.  You can’t go into a job on Monday and use your emotional currency to get out of doing work.  When you grow older, you can not use your emotional currency to get out of cleaning the bathroom.  You do what you have to do and move on.  You can’t take a sick day because you stayed up too late last night and your kid doesn’t make it to school at all.  The lessons that you learn at home are the lessons you either take into your life or not.  (Dang, I sound like I am talking to my 14-year-old right there.)

My children are lovely human beings.  They are bright, beautiful, and loving.  They know how to turn it up or dial it down.  But they are learning now that there is a thin line between I want and I need.  They are learning sometimes, that what I expect is not always what is going to happen.  I try not to disappoint them, but I have learned this year that some disappointment is healthy.  If you go through your childhood getting everything you want, what happens the first time you don’t get what you want as an adult?  At some point in time, as a parent, you have to say no.  It is healthy to do such.

So in closing, puppets we are.  Children are sometimes our puppet masters.  It is up to us whether or not we respond when they pull our strings.


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