Guilty as Charged
I’m sure if we replayed the days of our lives when we were raising our kids, you’d be able to hear me say things like, “You need to pick up your toys, okay?” or “Let’s get showers now, okay?” It didn’t happen all the time, but I know there are times that word slipped through the crack. I know I’d be blushing when you heard me saying “okay?” – exactly what I’m going to tell you that we ought not do.
The person saying “okay?” is asking permission and is not in charge
Yes. You heard it right. When you give your child an “out” to your request, you’re not in charge. Certainly, your child can be given choices of a vegetable [do you want green beans or corn?] if both are on the table. He can be allowed to choose which PJs he will wear [do you want your dinosaur or your truck PJs?] if both sets are clean and ready for wear.
But asking a child (telling a child it’s time to pick up toys and ending the “command” by saying “okay?”) puts you, the parent, at the command of your child. Think it through, and you’ll agree.
Let’s suppose you put the “okay?” at the end of the sentence, (“It’s time to pick up your toys, okay?”) and your child says, “No, I don’t want to pick up the toys; [it’s not okay.”] Does he still need to pick up the toys? If he does, then why end the “command” with a question that gives him an out to following your command?
If he does not need to pick up his toys, then just say, “I’d like for you to pick up your toys, but really, it’s okay if you just keep on playing and don’t ever pick them up since you’re the one in charge.”
The person who does not ask permission is in charge.
It’s true. Can you imagine a police officer stopping a vehicle and telling the occupant, “I’d like to have you get out of the car, okay?”
Or, when he’s wanting to handcuff a person, telling him, “Please stop moving and let me put your hands in handcuffs, okay?”
No, he gives commands that are distinct and direct. There’s no question what he wants and what he expects to happen. That’s because he’s the law, and he is in charge. It’s his job and his responsibility. You won’t hear him saying “okay?”
In the same way, parents are the law enforcement in the home. It’s their job to maintain law and order. Certainly it’s their responsibility to provide love and affirmation. Yet, I contend that one of the best ways to help a child know he is truly loved is for the parent to provide stability for the child. One way parents do this is by being the one in charge. A stable home is a home with boundaries that are enforced and not changed at the whim or tantrum of a child.
Being in charge does not equal dictatorship.
Insecure parents become dictators when their children question their commands. Dictators are not true parents. They are immature, selfish adults who show their insecurities by becoming dictators.
When you have your child’s best interests at heart, you don’t need to fear becoming a dictator. When you’re in tune with your child and your goal is to raise kids who are respectful, dependable, and trustworthy, you don’t need to fear becoming a dictator.
Nix saying “okay?” and it will be okay.
Next time you tell your kids to do something, just give the command and don’t ask them for permission by saying “Okay?” at the end. You’re the parent, not the best friend. Tell them what you expect, and follow through. You don’t need that “okay?” to be the parent. You will find that things will be smoother in your home and your kids will be happier because they won’t be in charge.