Before I get started on today’s blog post (which I think is a really interesting topic to discuss), let me first say THANK YOU to all you who ordered “Awesome Kid Coupons – Made For Real Human Kids,” after I announced its release last night. Sales on it have been so amazing that I already almost sold out of the inventory I thought would last me a good long while, and I had to reorder more.
In case you missed it, I self-published a coupon book/coloring book for parents to give to their children as meaningful gifts, which basically gives their children the feeling that they have a little more control and get to be a little more human in their lives.
Actually, I self-published two versions of it. One version was full of blank coupons that let parents choose to make whatever coupons they come up with, the other version was full of pre-filled coupons/illustrations such as these…
There are a bunch more in the book, but that’s enough for you to get the idea of what the book is all about.
I’ve actually been working on this project off and on for a couple of years now, ever since I gave Noah the original illustrations/coupons as a gift one Christmas. I’ve shown it to many people to see what they think, and I’ve passed the author copies around when people come over to visit.
Most people love all the coupons. But there is one coupon, and only one coupon so far, that I’ve heard at least eight or nine people tell me that they could never give to their kid. It’s a coupon I chose to include twice (with different illustrations) in the book because it’s one of my favorites. This is the coupon…
Some people have a real tough time with that one. For some reason, the idea of letting their kid get out of trouble when they do something wrong gives them serious anxiety. I’m not sure why.
Are they afraid their kid is going to murder someone and try to use the coupon to get out of it? Are they afraid their kid won’t learn an extremely important lesson if their kid doesn’t get the hammer slammed down every single time they do something wrong? Does it just give them anxiety to think about their kid handing them the coupon and as parents, having to bite their tongues and “LET THEM GET AWAY WITH IT?”
Let me tell you the true story of the first time Noah used his “get out of trouble free” coupon with me.
First, I had to admit that I won the good kid lottery. My son really hasn’t ever been a lick of trouble, and he tends to just be compliant by nature. He’s easy-going, he does what I ask, he goes to bed when I tell him to go to bed, and he kinda just makes life easy for me as a dad. That, mixed with my overly chill parenting nature, doesn’t give me a lot of opportunities to punish my kid and let him learn those valuable life lessons that come from making his own mistakes.
Anyways, it happened in the summer after I first gave him the coupons. He had used pretty much all the ones he wanted to use already, but had yet to cash in one of his “get out of trouble free” coupons. I honestly forgot he even had them.
I sent him to bed one night, and he said “okay Dad,” like he always does, and skedaddled to bed.
About 30 minutes later I went to check on him like I always do, and when I opened the door he did one of those hurry and shove something under the pillow moves that I’m sure we all remember doing when we were kids.
I won’t lie. I got kind of excited. I knew it was his iPad. My kid finally did something I could punish him for doing! I know that might sound weird, but sometimes I honestly wonder if my kid will be ready for this world because he doesn’t break enough rules to learn enough lessons. This was my chance, and it kind of thrilled me.
“Give me the iPad.” I was as stern and hurt looking as I could make myself be.
“Sorry Dad,” he said as he pulled it out from under the pillow and handed it to me.
“I’m pretty sure you’re better than that,” I told him. “I’m really disappointed.”
“I know. I’m sorry,” he said.
“Apology accepted. No screens for two days, though” I told him. “You did the crime, you’ve gotta do the time.”
“Okay,” he said. He didn’t even argue. Told you he was a good kid.
Anyways, I had my strong dad moment. YAY! I got to discipline my kid. YAY!
But then, the next morning as I stood at the stove cooking a pot of fresh oatmeal, he walked sheepishly out of his bedroom and held his “get out of trouble free” coupon out to me. “Can I still use this?” he asked.
I didn’t know whether to scream in frustration or laugh. I think I did a slight combination of the two. That was gonna be my time to let him learn his lesson, dang it!
“The fact that it’s summer and you haven’t even used it means you’re a pretty good kid,” I told him. “Of course, you can still use it. But… You can only use this coupon once. Are you sure this is the time you want to cash it in?”
He thought for a moment and nodded.
“Okay, I said. “You’re officially out of trouble.”
He grinned huge, piped a hearty thank you my way, and that was that.
I’ve thought about that moment a lot since it happened, especially as I’ve made these coupon books. Should there be a “get out of trouble free” coupon included?
I decided the answer wasn’t just yes, but it was a big enough yes that I included two of them in the book. Here’s my personal reasons why, and I’d love your honest discussion on this.
With a kid as easy as mine, it is what it is. But it doesn’t really matter how well behaved our children are, isn’t there one universal truth that we often completely forget as parents?
Our kids are humans, too.
It is human nature to push boundaries or to see what we can get away with. It is human nature to do what we think is okay even when other people tell us it’s not. It is human nature to test the system. Everything we do as humans, in this regard, definitely comes with consequences, but doing these things is what the majority of us do.
On top of that, can you imagine, for a moment, what it must be like in a child’s head?
They’re told when to wake up and when to go to bed. They’re told what to eat, when to eat, and how much to eat. They’re told what to say, what to wear, and how to treat people. They’re even often told what to think, how to interact to others, and how to control themselves.
That’s just life as a kid. It can’t be avoided. But can you imagine, for a moment, what it must be like in a child’s head?
Now extrapolate what you imagine all the way to adulthood. Have you ever met someone with issues that they have carried ever since childhood? Have you ever met someone who does things as an adult that make no sense because of the way they were taught and treated when they were younger? Have you ever met someone who gets frustrated, or gets upset from time to time, or does something that hurts someone else, even though hurting someone else isn’t something they actually want to do?
Oh, wait… What? Every single functioning human alive does that? Hm. So if our thinking, our filters, and our beliefs as adults stem from childhood, that must mean the inside of a child’s head has to be pretty dang frustrating and tricky sometimes, no matter how smooth the road. Right? It makes sense to me.
On that thought, tell me this: do you, as one of the 99.9999999% of adults who sometimes says things or does things that hurt other people, and sometimes does things that make you feel stupid or inadequate to other people, and sometimes makes mistakes or does things you wish you could take back…
Do you, as one of those 99.9999999% of adults, ever make a mistake or do something hurtful and just hope the people who love you will be understanding and give you a free pass once in a while without the need to punish you for it before they offer you their understanding and forgiveness?
Shouldn’t your kids get the same courtesy from time to time?
That’s what those coupons were all about. That’s why I included them. They are coupons that let our kids choose moments when they need a little more control and they need to be allowed to be just a little more… Human.
Personally, I think it’s powerful to teach our children that we don’t have to punish the people we love for every single thing they do to mess up. I think there are a lot of great lessons to be had in recognizing that it is human to err and in teaching our kids to offer some of the same forgiveness to those they will love throughout their lives.
As a dad, I make all sorts of mistakes as a parent. I bet you do with your children, as well. Heaven knows there are plenty of times we will all have that same feeling we have with others, where we do something hurtful or stupid, and we just hope to be forgiven by our children (without being punished) because in those moments, we could really use it.
I only included two coupons. Two. I assume most people would give at most a coupon book every year. As a parent, can’t your kid make at least two punishment-free mistakes each year?
I would sincerely challenge every parent (whether you get my coupon book or you make your own coupons) to give their children (of any age) a couple “get out of trouble free” coupons to use whenever they want, and just see what kind of goodness those moments eventually bring to their relationships with their kids. I would say that the more disciplinary and strict you are as a parent, the more I would challenge you to just try it and see what happens.
I’m guessing your child will not feel like they can get away with more because they got to get away with something. If anything, it’ll have the opposite effect, because they will be choosing when to use their coupons, and hopefully they’ll actually put thought into it, which lets them own their own consequences more easily.
I’m also guessing your child will not hurry and go do something extremely wrong just because you gave them a coupon. If anything, I bet it will show them that you trust them a little more which will affect their behavior in more positive ways.
I’m also guessing that the moment they receive the coupon will be a fairly special moment for your child. They will feel a little more loved. They will feel a little more trusted. They will feel like they have a little more control in their lives. And, most importantly, they will feel a lot more free to be… Human.
Dan Pearce | Dan Pearce Was Here
PS. I really look forward to the discussion on this one…
Also, if you missed the announcement and want to order the coupon book…
Or… Even better…
It’ll take a little longer to get to you, but here’s why you oughta go that route:
- I’ll make a few more bucks on the purchase. Thank you. Mahalo. Gracias.
- You will get to immediately download the PDF version for free (so that you can print and reprint any coupons you like, whenever you like, for all of eternity).
- You can also choose a PDF version for a lot less if you wanna just print your own.