The cunning parent is always scheming to find ways to get their children to behave when they leave their presence. Here are some ideas crafty parents can try. Who knows? Maybe they'll work for you.
Send your children covert messages that they don't even realize they are receiving by using a tape recorder and playing it at night while they sleep. Chant phrases such as, "You are such a good kid. You would never rob a bank. You would never take drugs. You'll wait until you are married. Stay a good kid. Also, become rich and famous and remember I'm the reason for your success." Or, just tell them while they're awake and paying attention. Maybe add, "I believe in you."
Talk under your breath
When you are speaking to your child, whisper the messages under your breath between sentences. The following is an example with the message in italics. "So, congratulations on your math test. I think that's marvelous that you made an A. Good for you. (Stay away from alcohol.)Would you like an after school snack?" Or, ask them directly about things like drinking and drugs and listen to what they have to say about it.
Incorporate a hug
"So, you're going to go do homework with Cathy? That's great. She's a smart girl." As you hug him, say, inaudibly, into his ear, "No making out"Chances are, he will rear back and give you a quizzical, "Did you say something?" Your response is, of course, "Yes, I said I'm making trout ... for dinner." Or, look them directly in the eye and let them know what you expect of them.
Do a departure itemization inventory
"Bye, mom." "Bye, honey. Remember, now, don't speed. Don't hold up a liquor store. Don't kidnap anyone for ransom. Don't get into a gang war. Don't get a tattoo. Don't smoke any funny cigarettes. Don't join a cult. Don't inject anything into your veins. Don't steal an automobile. Don't join a motorcycle gang. Don't sign any contracts for large ticket expenditures." If you're really clever, the list could go on long enough to severely curtail their time at wherever it was they were going. Or, just say, "You know the right thing to do. I trust you."
Stick it to them with stick-it notes
Little notes in lunch bags, backpacks, jeans pockets, hoodies, notebooks, textbooks, cell phones and messages left on MP3 players are all effective ways of reminding them to behave. Scattering them around the house will also remind them as they are getting ready to leave. Bedroom and bathroom mirrors, laminated notes for the shower, inside shoes, under pillows and anywhere else they might run into one. Or
, leave sticky notes telling them you love them and trust them.
Create a mom-web
"OK, Sylvia, they are leaving my sector and heading south on Maple Street. Copy?" "Got it, Jane. I've just picked them up and they are turning on Main Street. Annie, you there?" "I see them and they are pulling into the diner. I will watch and let you know when they leave. I've got the gardener sitting in an adjacent booth monitoring their conversation. I will send word when they leave. 10-4 and over." Or, pray for them when they leave and ask God to watch over them.
"I remember your labor. Oh, my goodness. Everyone thought I would die, but I said, 'No way. I've got to live for this little baby.' Of course, you wouldn't remember any of that, but I still feel the pain. I knew the moment I saw your little face that you would never give me an ounce of pain beyond that awful, dreadful childbirth. All those nights I stayed up treating those mystery fevers. I never regretted a moment of it because I knew you'd never do anything to betray my trust in you. All those trips, taking you to your dance class and karate class and the basketball games. It's all been my pleasure. You know my sacrifice. You would never do anything to hurt me again." Or, let them know what a pleasure it is to have them as your kid and that you'd do it all over again in a heartbeat.
Call on your ancestors
"You know your last name and all the wonderful people who have held it. Never do anything to soil that name. I have Uncle Harold watching over you when you go out. He was a good man and his spirit will be with you and watching every move you make. That family name was always so important to him. I know you'd never let him down by behaving badly." Or, tell them how proud you are that they are living up to their name.
Purchase a miniature surveillance device and plant it, along with a bug, on something they have with them and monitor their activities on closed caption television. You can purchase all of these at your local Spies 'R' Us retailer or online at www.covert-ops-to-spy-on-your-children-who-probably-don't-even-have-questionable-behavior.biz (hopefully there isn't really a site with that name). Or,upon their return, ask them if they had a good time and what the most fun thing they did was. Ask them if there was anything they would have done differently.
Go to your local gumshoe's office and hire someone for only $200/day plus expenses to follow them around. Or, realize that you've done a pretty cracker jack job of raising them and trust them. Put the surveillance money into their college fund.
While these are silly ideas that most of us have thought about, the truth is you just need to be good, hands-on parents, actively engaged with your children. Speak to them often and ask questions about their life and their feelings. Let them know you care. Then, once you have done all you can do, trust them and love them unconditionally, understanding fully that they will make mistakes and letting them know that you are there for them always. This method is less expensive and troublesome, but not nearly so entertaining.