Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Condom Theory

When we lived in Florida I met this guy , Mark G who became one of my only two friends in the Sunshine State. I have not had any type of communication with him since I have moved back to PA three years ago, but he is one of those people who I will never forget. Mark G gave me some of the best parenting advice I have ever received.

Mark G and his son Ethan met Maxfield and I at a playground. Max, who was only two and half at the time, wanted to climb up these weird metal spiral steps or something. I kept pulling Max off the steps and directing him to a more safer area of play. Max, who inherited his stubbornness from not his father's side of the family, kept coming back to the spiral metal steps. Max was insistent that he climb the steps.

Mark, sensing my frustration said to me "Bill, you would be better off teaching him how to climb that safely and teach him how to get back down, than trying to stop him from doing it all. He eventually is going to find a way to climb it. You may as well teach him to be safe. "

It took me a couple of minutes to take in what he said. I then taught Max how to climb the spiral ladder step thing. I felt better.


The other day I took Max and Wyatt to the theater to do a set strike. My friend Josh had his little boy there and three boys played well together. At one point my kids were jumping from the stage, climbing back up and then jumping again. Josh's kid wanted to do the same thing, but since he is slightly younger than my boys and Josh is more of an attentive father, Josh stopped him from jumping. His son insisted he would jump and I watched struggle.

I don't like to give parenting advice, but I felt Mark G's advice to me would serve Josh well. I told him that his son is going to find a way to do it and that it would be better if Josh taught him how to jump in a safe way.

Josh took in what I said.

I tried to make it more clear for him. "Think of it like the condom theory. They are going to do it. They are going to find a way to do it. We just need to make sure they do it safely."

14 comments:

Angie said...

Freakin' Awesome. Wish I'd thought of that.

for a different kind of girl said...

I wish I'd though to of this, too. It may have randomly crossed my mind, but I simply never gave up what I was doing to do what I should have. Definitely going to remember it now.

Michelle said...

having stubborn kids myself, I've often followed that advice. It's the same theory I use with stupid outlet covers. Mine just learned to pry them out and try to choke on them, it was easier and safer to teach them not put anything in the outlets!
I like the condom parallel. Good thinking.

Susie said...

That is good advice. Although giving parenting advice is always such a delicate matter.

So now you're the guy who advocates condoms for preschoolers.

SciFi Dad said...

I knew exactly what you were getting at in the title. It's my philosophy, but my wife still feels discouraging is more effective.

eclectic said...

So... I take it there were condoms on the playground stairs? Ewwwww, no wonder you didn't want him climbing them! ;)

It's as though your kids are redheads too... like mine. The ounce of prevention by way of avoiding almost never worked.

Josh said...

I was very entertained by the analogy, and it made my wife laugh as well. When she thought it was funny, I suddenly wondered if Lauren would have approved of your comment, or if she would have just shook her head.

But none of the boys got injured, and they played very well together. Thanks for the advice, especially because I do know you don't give parenting advice generally.

Josh

Mamma Sarah said...

Totally funny and oh so true!

James (SeattleDad) said...

I use the condom theory at the playground, but when my wife comes along, she just wants me to pull him out.

Aimee Greeblemonkey said...

Love this.

En said...

Very true! Like my neighbor said - " They'll only leap into the rose bush once."

Cole said...

With all the dangers in the world that we hear so much about, it's easy to understand why parents are so overprotective these days . . . so it's that much more refreshing to see parenting like this.

Bogart in P Towne said...

Daddy, what's a condom?

kcinnova said...

Catching up from a crazy couple of weeks... and Susie made me laugh!
It was good advice to receive and thoughtful to pass it on.
~4 boys and still sane