I am becoming an expert on parenting. Or, at least at one technique that has been working wonders for me lately.
Some may say my methods are a little extreme. To them, I say you have never been a single father of four daughters under 10.
My method is the often-criticized but underutilized tactic of brainwashing. I have mastered it so well, I would be fine with one calling me the Jim Jones of parenting.
Tell your kids something and repeat it enough times, the desired outcome eventually happens. The key, as with most things in life, is repetition, repetition and more repetition.
With almost everything that happens, I have a simple sentence that corresponds with an activity. Pretty soon, my kids know exactly what I want to happen and how it should happen.
From the mundane every day tasks to the lessons in life that will keep my children on the right track, I have a saying for it.
When my youngest daughter was an infant and suffering from a seizure disorder, I was constantly taking her to Doctor appointments. The nurses were telling me what to do and not do when raising children. One of the ones that stuck with me, was when a nurse told me, "When you are changing and cleaning your daughter, make sure you wipe front to back. Otherwise, you are just wiping everything into her vagina."
Wow, now there is something I would never known, but it made sense. I followed her advise, and then began to tell my daughters front to back after they were potty-trained.
When they head out of the bathroom three years later, they still tell me, "Dad, I front to backed. You don't have to ask."
I often wonder how long they will continue to tell me that when the exit the bathroom. I hope not much longer.
Other examples are, "Food in, mouth closed", "Dad gone, pool closed", "Multiple flushes when pooping", and the one I tell them the most, "Say no to boys and drugs."
It is the last one that I hope prevents what gives me the most nightmares as a father. They can drop out of school, join a cult, become a vegetarian, do just about anything but become a teen mother or have a drug problem. I have seen too many teens as a teacher who had one of the two, if not both, happen to them.
My daughters are going to be attending the high school I teach and coach at, and the last thing I want is to be known as is the coach with the drugged-out or pregnant teen daughter. I'll love and support them if it happens, but I am going to do whatever it takes to prevent it from happening.
I started saying it to them when they were still in car seats. When I would leave them at daycare, the single women thought it was cute as I would drop them off with a kiss and a "Say no to boys and drugs" farewell.
There still hasn't been a day that I left without saying it to them. While my others sayings can actually be applied by young daughters on a daily basis, I never really knew if they understood what I was trying to convey to them with the boys and drugs thing.
That changed for me recently with an outing to the park.
I was sitting on a bench reading a book as my girls were playing on the swings. Looking up, I noticed a boy walking toward Shelby as she exited one of the swings.
The two of them talked and as they did, Shelby kept looking over at me. She finally put her hand up in the air toward the boy and then sprinted to me with a question.
"Dad, Dad, Dad, " she said, while huffing and puffing from the run. "That boy wants to know if I can play with him. Is it Ok? I know you always say to say no to boys, but I don't think he has any drugs. So, can I?"
It took everything I had not to fall over with laughter as I told her she could play with him. The hard work paid off, and just hearing Shelby ask the question was music to my ears. I didn't even need any of Jim Jones' Kool-Aide for Shelby to remember what I have been preaching for years.
I told you I was an expert.
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