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Communicating with Other Parents About What’s Appropriate

2 min read

Everyone’s parenting style is different—it’s a fact you learn fast once your kids are school-aged. You’re bound to meet parents who seem like they’re on another planet when it comes to how they deal with their kids! But for the most part, every parent can find some form of common ground with others. For those things you disagree on, communication is important.

Here’s an example of what I’m talking about.

My daughter recently spent the night at her friend’s house—classic slumber party with her BFF. They stayed up all night watching movies and eating popcorn. It’s a quintessential part of childhood and I’m all for it. Everything was all good when I picked her up the next morning… until I told her we weren’t going to get pancakes for breakfast.

“Come on dad, don’t be a douche!”

I nearly slammed into the car in front of us! I was incredulous!

“What did you call me?!” I asked, eyes wide with consternation.

“I just said you were being a douche” she said, frown on her face.

It only took me a couple of seconds to realize she had no idea what she just called me. She was using a word she wasn’t familiar with—one that was new to her. I calmly told her not to use that word and we drove home.

At home I was stewing. Not because my daughter called me a douche, but because someone had introduced her to this word in a context that she thought was acceptable. I decided to give her friend’s mom a call to get to the bottom of things.

I very calmly explained that my daughter learned a new word at the sleepover, and that I was just curious about where it came from. To my shock, the woman laughed and replied very nonchalantly, “oh yeah, she probably picked that up from Jake. He’s pretty creative with his vocabulary.” I was a little taken aback. Not only was this apparently not a problem for her, it was acceptable!

Not being one to judge too critically, I just decided to speak my piece. I told her I really wasn’t comfortable with my daughter picking up and using crass vocabulary, and that I’d really prefer if they might be mindful of that in the future. I also noted that I’d do my part to let my daughter know she shouldn’t use words she doesn’t understand.

The conversation went well—mom was totally understanding and respectful of my request. We even parted ways with another sleepover on the books!

The moral of the story here is that “appropriate” is a subjective term. What I think is appropriate might not be for someone else, and I’m not always going to agree with what others do. The key to avoiding constant head-butting is to just talk about it.

I realize the world won’t conform to my standards of parenting, but that doesn’t mean I have to abandon them. In fact, I can stand my ground about what I believe is appropriate, so long as I’m able to respect the parenting styles of others. After all, I wouldn’t want to come off as a douche.

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