Resisting Kids' Powers of Persuasion

One father's guide to resisting kids' powers of persuasion.
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The one thing I most look forward to each day is leaving the frantic pace of the office for the soothing calm of home. But every once in a while, I get more than I bargain for. Like last night.

I had barely walked through the door when my two daughters assailed me in tandem. "Why can't we have a pet?" What they lacked in stature they endeavored to make up via surprise attack. As I put away my coat and briefcase, my persistent progeny peppered me with the joys of pet ownership. Cats, dogs, hamsters, snakes, iguanas -- no animal was too disgusting.

I had barely walked through the door when my two daughters assailed me in tandem. "Why can't we have a pet?" What they lacked in stature they endeavored to make up via surprise attack. As I put away my coat and briefcase, my persistent progeny peppered me with the joys of pet ownership. Cats, dogs, hamsters, snakes, iguanas -- no animal was too disgusting.

As the ten-minute diatribe (which followed immediately upon the conclusion of the five-minute harangue) began, I felt a sense of pride in my two daughters. It was comforting to learn that I wasn't the only strategist in the family. I marveled at their skill in divvying up their case with a two-pronged approach: Rebecca, my 10-year-old, voiced only arguments pertaining to the pets-make-children-more-responsible angle; Naomi, my 6-year-old, took the perennially popular guilt track, reminding me that the parents of all her friends, relatives, and acquaintances had bought them pets.

I finished supper in complete silence. Although I hadn't said a word, the dinner table was hardly quiet. The air was filled with pleading, comparative family studies, and finally, recriminations. At last, a pause. As I got up from the table to enjoy the relative calm of a TV talk show, I spoke: "It's all up to your mother." Like I said before, I'm not a bad strategist myself.

Copyright © 2003.

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