Manipulation

I’ve written about this before, here, regarding my oldest son.  But it is clear where he gets this trait from, at least the majority of it anyway.  From his father.  No, I’m not perfect and I’m using this as a learning opportunity – not as a rag on the ex opportunity.

As a refresher, here’s the definition:

/məˈnipyəˌlāt/

Merriam Webster says that manipulation is “to control or play upon by artful, unfair, or insidious means especially to one’s own advantage.”

Here’s the situation:

Oldest son mows the yard for $5 with an extra $5 if he string trims.  It’s a BIG yard.  His dad comes bustling into the house yesterday afternoon after several days away and only seeing them for 5 minutes over the weekend.  He promptly tells oldest to get his shoes on because it is time to mow.  Oldest says he’s really not in the mood to mow.  Ex is clearly irritated and in a confrontational mood and says oldest cannot have computer for the night.  Ex knows that this is the way to get oldest son’s attention.  Oldest was willing to go without earning the $5 to $10, but was NOT expecting to have computer taken away.  Ex clearly did not want to mow the lawn either, but knew that it needed to be done.

What could happen differently?

In my humble (Ok – not so humble) opinion, ex would have had much more success if he had sat down and had a conversation for a few minutes and then gradually brought up that the lawn needed to be mowed.  But ex seemed to be in a hurry to get it done, which gave the impression that he didn’t really want to hang out.  As soon as oldest indicated his lack of desire to mow, in a very respectful way – mind you, ex chose not to show any empathy but instead went on the attack.  If he had shown a little empathy for oldest’s feelings, oldest most likely would have come around quickly and would not have been upset about the whole situation.

If by chance oldest did NOT come around as quickly as I suspect, ex could have given a reminder that the only way oldest earns the extra $5 to $10 is to mow the lawn.  I believe that the only cause for taking computer away would have been if oldest were disrespectful.  It felt like a manipulation tactic to me, more than skillful parenting.

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