Even the most cursory reader of these Tuesday musings will admit that this author does not shy away from even the most controversial topics: Should parents do homework for their children? Should parents smoke marijuana with their children? Should parents work nine days a week and pay someone else to raise their children? Should parents yell at their children endlessly?
For those who would not recognize a rhetorical question if it spat in their beer, the answers to the above are no, no, no, and unequivocally no.
But throwing caution under the bus, this column addresses the contentious proposition of dogs in the bed. Specifically, what to do if there is indeed, a dog in your bed.
And not just any dog. I am not talking about an unknown, random dog beamed down by the Starship Enterprise from an alternative earth. No, I am referencing the family dog. I am talking about your beloved Fido or Rover. I am pointing out the trusted canine companion that, even as we speak, may be sprawled horizontally, taking up most of the room and all of the covers in your bed. A beloved dog who noses his way under your rib cage sending you by degrees to the outer reaches of your mattress until you wake up draped across the corner of your bed with a sore shoulder and under ten minutes to shower, dress, and get to work.
What is there to be done? Well, one thing you could do is get a bigger bed. Or at the risk of using first person pronouns and having my wife find out about our Langley's predilection for jumping in our bed as soon as she goes to work, I could get a bigger bed. Or, I could get another bed. Possibly, I could just buy the house next-door. Doubtless they have more beds.
Of course, I could just tell the dog to get out of the bed.
Long time readers will hardly be surprised to learn that there is an impending analogy regarding our relationship with our children:
"My 15-year-old daughter is reluctant to get up and go to school in the morning. She stays up until 2:00 am texting and talking on her phone."
"Have you considered taking the phone away?"
"Oh, I could never do that."
Actually, limiting infinite phone access is exactly what you could, should, and must do. An adolescent should have access to electronics after nine o'clock at night as often as she has access to automatic weapons in the shower. Let me see, um, carry the one, that would be, uh--never.
Your adolescent daughter will choose to give up her electronics and get a good night's sleep as often as Langley will determine that he'll be perfectly fine on the expensive doggie pillow we got him.
Speaking of conversations, which of the following do you think is easier?
a) You have been talking and texting until two in the morning. From now on, I'm going to take your phone away at 9:00 pm.
b) You have earned enough money from babysitting to pay for your half of a phone. Let's go pick out the one you want. You may use it until 9:00 pm.
Let me not always see the same hands. Answer choice b is correct. As is true with addiction, the best way to stop is not to start.
Parenting should not be modeled on a fascist dictatorship, but parenting can not be a true democracy either. You can have a conversation about whether or not your 14-year-old daughter can stay up until two in the morning talking and texting; you can validate the feelings of your 14-year-old daughter who would prefer to stay up until two in the morning talking and texting; you can be sympathetic that "all her friends" are staying up until two in the morning talking and texting. Then--at 9:00 pm--you can take the phone away.
Someone has to stand up and make the hard decisions. Someone has to be the parent. Someone has to say no to automatic weapons in the shower. That someone would be you.Your children came to live with you. You did not go move in with her. Loving, firm, consistent, reasoned, mindful limits. Concepts whose time has come.