Some of the most effective parenting strategies weren’t thought out by parenting experts or trained professionals, but by desperate moms and dads. Let’s hear it for weird parenting wins!
Ever had one of those moments when, having reached the end of your tether, you behave in a way that not only surprises you, but also surprises your kid – so much so that they actually do exactly what you’ve been asking them to? Enter the weird parenting win; the serendipitous (and often bizarre) action that somehow succeeds where your coaxing, cajoling, and threats have failed.
The concept of weird parenting wins was pioneered by author Hilary Frank in a book by the same name; a volume which swiftly gained a cult following of parents who are tired of feeling inadequate because the usual advice dispensed by global gurus just doesn’t work for them.
After all, let’s be real – does your child really stop doing something just because you’ve told them not to, in a kind, yet firm voice? Probably not. But, on the other hand, the American mom who made a cardboard cut-out of “Daddy” to sit at the dinner table so that her kids missed him less while he was on a tour of duty definitely emerged a hero in their eyes. And kudos, too, to the mom who got her kids to eat beetroot with the promise of pink poo. It might not be the most conventional parenting wisdom, but sometimes, extremes are necessary.
We asked some Living and Loving moms to describe some weird parenting wins of their own.
“When my kids refused to get dressed, I told them I would leave if they didn’t have their clothes on by the time I was ready to go. So I did. I got in my car and drove off, leaving them with their dad. Now, I remind them of that time and the clothes are on in a flash.” – Leonore
“Telling my boys not to smile when I take photos always results in the best and most natural smiles.” – Kerry
“A mom at playschool told her kids that the ice cream guy rang his bell when the ice cream was finished.” – Norma
“We managed to keep our daughter from lollipops until she was almost three by telling her they were tomatoes on a stick!” – Lina
“When my daughter was two, she lost her dummy on a hike. We decided to seize the opportunity to encourage her to give it up, so we told her a baby monkey had picked it up. Somehow, she became convinced that she had given the dummy to a baby monkey in need.” – Lisa
“I told my kids their eyes change colour when they lie. Now, when they lie they never look directly at me!” – Michelle
“My niece was having a tantrum, so I threw myself on the floor and started shouting and kicking just like she was. She was so dumbfounded she stopped immediately.” – James
In her 16 years as journalist, Lisa Witepski’s work has appeared in most of South Africa’s leading publications, including the Mail & Guardian, Sunday Times, Entrepreneur and Financial Mail. She has written for a number of women’s magazines, including Living & Loving, Essentials and many others, across topics from lifestyle to travel, wellness, business and finance. She is a former acting Johannesburg Bureau Chief for Cosmopolitan, and former Features Editor at Travel News Weekly, but, above all, a besotted mom to Leya and Jessica. Lisa blogs at whydoialwayscravecake.blogspot.com and lisa.witepski.blogspot.com, and tweets at @LisaWitepski.