We played Rook in college. It’s a card game and the trump card over everything else is the Rook. It’s the card everyone wanted and we used it to surprise our opponents, to strengthen our hands, and to fill in where our partners were weak. My roommate Dale loved to play Rook. But there was a problem; whenever he was dealt the Rook, he would caw. Yep! He would caw like a crow. Everyone knew who had the “bird.” It wasn’t a good strategy for winning the game.
We have also enjoyed playing Spades along the way. If we get the right cards, we can run the table and win all the hands. The key is to play our trump cards against the strong cards of our opponents until all they have left are their weak ones. Then we win.
As parents, we hold all the cards. We just don’t know how to play the game. We give away our secrets and then play our weak cards against the kids’ strong ones.
Let me explain. When our kids are small, we have all the insight, all the knowledge, all the wisdom to know what is best for our children.
Now here is an amazing thing. Many inexperienced parents are always asking their kids what they want, what they want to do, where they want to go. They are always giving away their strong cards. Then when it is time to assert a little authority, or eat the broccoli, or sit still in a meeting, the kids don’t get it. They have been calling all the shots and they don’t understand what has changed. So there is a little rebellion; and it was set up by the parents.
When our children become teens, they look like adults, and they feel like adults. They just aren’t adults yet–not in responsibilities and not in privileges. We still hold the strong cards. Our strong cards are called the car, the car keys, our signatures (permission for a minor to do almost anything), our long-range vision, and our money. Now we shouldn’t go around crowing about our cards, and we shouldn’t use our good cards against their weak ones.
Example: Mom and Dad give Taylor $20 allowance a week. For that they expect her to keep her room clean and help out in the kitchen. She doesn’t keep her room clean, she doesn’t help in the kitchen, and she doesn’t get the twenty dollars,
when a school event comes along, when she wants to go to a movie, or when she wants to eat out with friends, mom and dad cough up the cash. They give away their strong card.
Parents, you have control; use it. Use it with compassion and grace but use it. Use it with love and gentleness, but use it.
You hold all the cards.