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Monday, January 26, 2009

Bribes and Threats - MWOB Style

This pic over here is Kathy who is giving blogging a whirl today at MWOB. I met Kathy (not to be confused with my old friend Kath who has graced this site twice before), through my old college roomies, Ames and Steph, and they've known her since elementary school. Kathy is another true-blue mom without a blog and I'm beyond thrilled she's throwing her hat in the ring.

I love starting the week with a guest post. It grounds me to one of the main reasons I even started this venture - to encourage other non-writing moms (like me) to find their voice by writing and sharing their stories. I've been told by my previous guest bloggers that they found the experience to be a tad bit frightening but to also be exciting, cathartic and rewarding. And I say right on to that. 

Kathy is a So Cal chick who left the magical ocean breezes of North County San Diego for lots of open land and the soothing nature of rural New Hampshire. Her husband is an East Coast dude and a bunch of circumstances inspired their move. Kathy lives in a real life log cabin where she and her man are raising their two kids, Justin, 6, and Dallas, 4, seven horses, two dogs and four cats.   

Along with being a kick-ass, cool mom, Kathy works as a physical therapist part-time, organizes major fundraising walks for breast cancer, takes pictures of ice storms and dreams of her next warm-weather vacation with her best girlfriends.

Without further ado, here's Kathy. 
(And make sure to leave her some MWOBBY comment love.  You remember what the first time felt like, don't ya?)  



So, I notoriously do not keep resolutions. Exercising consistently, not biting my fingernails, eating more fruit. I can’t last a week. But this year I resolved to threaten and/or bribe my children less.

I lasted 30 minutes.

I am the mom of two children, 4 and 6, who really are sweet and genuinely good children. I came to the realization over the Holidays, which is another story in and of itself …(Think Ice Storm 2008 in New Hampshire. No power for 11 days, transplanting to a small apartment and not getting power back until Christmas Eve)…that my primary method of persuasion is through threats and bribes. And sure, we all do this, but I believe I might be somewhat pathologic in this arena of parenting. 

On a given morning, I will threaten our way through breakfast, bribe our way into day clothes and entice our way into the car. I used to ask my kids to do something, and let them have a chance, and then break out the old  "OK, cartoon off until…”
Now, I think I just go right into, “If you don’t…then you…”

But here is ultimately the problem.  Depending on the day, the same task can reap a reward or incur a penalty. In fact I am sure that I have said the following verbatim, and I think in the same week.

“Pick your toys up off the stairs and bring them to the play room or no Phineas and Ferb”.

“Pick your toys up off the stairs and bring them to the play room and you can get a toy at the Popcorn store." (which is what we call Target for obvious reasons)

I mean, really, what is a child to take away from that? 

So sure enough early January, I simply asked my kids “Please pick up your toys off the stairs and bring them to the play room."

And shockingly…nothing happened

Why would it?  They were waiting to see if they would get a toy out of it or I would issue some powerless threat that rarely comes to fruition. I can only imagine when they get older they will be waiting it out to see if homework comes with rewards.

So, I will continue to try and instill a work ethic in my children and teach them that there are just some responsibilities that come with life.. but until then I am seriously going to try to use the word “IF” less.

Wish me luck.

P.S.  And just in case, you're not sure if the 2008 New Hampshire Ice Storm really happened, here's visual proof taken right on our property.


  1. Oh, that is SO. TRUE.

    Ugh. But I tell ya, how are we supposed to get the little demons, er...I mean...angels to listen, otherwise??? How do moms DO it???

    Great post!

  2. Thanks for that, Kathy! This is so true - I have a similar resolution - my husband says I'm not tough enough on the kids. I'm like putty their manipulative brains can throw against the wall and step on willy-nilly like. I don't spoil, I just let things drag on and on and on while they try to work me for what they want. My resolution is to be tough and nip it in the bud (whatever that means). Go tough moms!!!!

  3. maybe we should start a support group for THIS! of course, i have found a way to take it to the next level... instead of having to follow through with the threats, i tell my kids they have the opportunity to "earn back" any privileges i took away. how sick is that?

    thanks for playing with us!

  4. The Popcorn store? That was way cute!

    So does MWOB really stand for Moms With Out Blogs or...

    Moms With Out Bribes!

    Great goal...I'm not sure I can commit to it...yet! But great goal nonetheless!

    Lee-bers....I left you something at my blog. Don't worry it's not a hateful meme. I know you are aSMH...serious meme hater and I'm totally cool with that! :)

  5. Greetings from a fellow NewHampshire-ite and I totally believe you about the ice storm because I was there too - although we lost power for only 3 days.

    The one thing I want most is to just have one day - just one - where my kids respond to my first request without me having to bark and threaten. I do make good on my threats and you'd think they'd have learned that by now but so far it hasn't penetrated their pretty little heads.

    Just one day. That's all. Just one.

  6. Haven't we all turned into our our mothers? "All I want is some kids who will obey." Oh, the tragedy. GREAT post!

  7. nice to meet you, Kathy! We all do it and there's not a thing wrong with it except when the cheap bribing and rewarding fail to work and the kids have outsmarted you (around 12 yrs old) and you have no recourse- if you figure out what to do next- please let me know.

    We had a similar ice storm last year (in MO) beautiful, but in an eery scary, very cold way, right?

  8. I haven't had to deal with this sort of thing yet but I know it's coming because my daughter has a tendency to think she is the boss...something that her grandparents seem to encourage even though I do not...but that for another post. Thanks for joining us Kathy!

  9. Hooray! So fun to see your beautiful face on MWOB.

    You are dead on with these threats/rewards. Are we our mothers really? I only remember doing what my parents asked and not negotiating like my kids do. I've got one MASTER negotiator in my fam which then turns me into one.

    Way to go Kath - loved it.

  10. It seems to be the only way to get them to take me seriously. I know how you feel... :-)

  11. Right on, Kath!!!! Seeing your post is the highlight of my day. How dare your little angels take advantage of their mother's sweet and easy-going nature. At least you are getting your kids to do things on their own (however motivated). I usually cop out completely and just pick the toys up myself. OXOX

  12. If only! Isn't a paycheck incentive and no pay check a punishment?

    I'm hanging on to that.

    I was on the phone with my mother the other day while I was trying to negotiate with my 2-year-old (failure much?) about getting into the stroller.

    My mother: just TELL him to get into the stroller. He's strapped in, what is he going to do?

    I HATE it when she's right.

    Good luck!! I'm right there with you.

  13. Anyone who says bribery doesn't work has NEVER worked with children, or is a fucking liar.

  14. Oh, and you KICKED ass.

    I'm jut sayin'.

  15. Hey, Kathy, anyone who just lived through one helluva storm like you did can freakin' bribe or threaten however she wants!!

    It's funny how our children can turn us into these unrecognizable people we never thought we would be. I love your commitment to no bribing...I may have to try it myself.

    Great post:)


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