— Zac Chase (@MrChase) February 16, 2016
I negotiate dessert. Not every night is a “dessert night” and not every action requires a reward. There are some days that we haven’t had dessert for a while and there are others that I am too tired to remember that I packed them a treat in their lunches. Losing dessert for multiple days also complicates the calculus. What happens when they lose dessert on a non-dessert night? Does that mean that that children must wait to lose dessert until the following night or should they be allowed to have it because they got lucky? It is a negotiation, even when it is only in my head.
I negotiate bedtime. Some nights we are engaged in a family activity until it is past the “normal range of bedtimes”. Some nights we put them to bed with huge amounts of extra time to read. On weekends we they watch a movie while my wife and I talk in the living room. On weekdays, we may have homework or projects that have to be done before going to bed. These are all negotiations, but they are mostly just us making peace with the fact that our routine must not get in the way of our lives.
I negotiate electronics. Our house gets incredibly messy sometimes. Toys on the floor. Clothes not put away. Art supplies strewn about. There are many times when the thing standing in the way of my children playing Minecraft are those miscellaneous items that seemingly never find their way home. So, the kids clean up. They scrub mirrors and use dustpans. They even, on occasion, will help one another to do this. And all the while, I am negotiating the terms of the cleaning. How many minutes for the bathroom? How many minutes for all of the trains and cars? The answers are generally 15 and 10, respectively.
I do not negotiate love. The one thing that I will never negotiate with my children is my love for them or their love for one another. I do not tolerate anyone saying that they hate one another. I do not abide a spiteful attitude. Moreover, I do not ever find myself loving them less. It is only ever a discussion of more. More time together, more effort to build our relationships, more of the working through the difficult problems that 2, 7, and 9 year olds have.
I love them, as a non-negotiable rule.