“If you must hold yourself up to your children as an object lesson, hold yourself up as a warning and not as an example.” (George Bernard Shaw)


My kids never had a chance. By the time they were teenagers, I was ready for anything they could dream up. Mainly because I had done it all before, when I was young, so there really wasn’t much new under the sun. It was a great sense of satisfaction to be able to outwit them at every turn and leave them guessing, “How did you know that?”

When my son was a senior in high school he dated a girl named Katie. They met in acting class and their relationship had way too much drama. I knew they were getting pretty serious and I wanted him to avoid any life long commitments, like pregnancy, so I tried to talk about sex but he always brushed it off as not important. Around Valentine’s Day he came home with 2 roses that Katie had given him. One was white and the other was red. After a few days the white rose had collapsed but the red one was still good. I made the curious observation that white roses were for purity and red ones were for love and wasn’t it odd how fast that white one had died. He gulped a couple of times and then confessed that he and Katie had been out parking on Saturday night and things got a little out of hand just before the cops arrived. The funniest part was the fact that Katie was 18 and he was only 17 so the cops were asking questions like she had taken advantage of him. It was all I could do to keep myself from laughing at this turn of events. I had no idea this had happened and I was purely on a fishing expedition but he never knew that. The look on his face when he had to come clean was one of the greatest moments in my time as a parent.

My son apparently never told his sister Lauren about my ability to know all because she tried her share of deceptions as well. The first time I caught her in the act she had asked to spend the night at Paige’s house but somehow this story just wasn’t adding up. I took a short trip by Paige’s house and then called her cell phone to ask where she was really. She only offered a change of plans as her excuse and that she had ended up at Bailey’s house instead. Unfortunately, lying is inexcusable in my view of the world so her night was over immediately. Later on that year she made the mistake of saying something about drinking with Bailey on a social network sight that her brother had left open to me. When the opportunity presented itself I used that bit of information to my advantage and caused her a major amount of embarrassment. She just looked at me in complete bewilderment and accepted her punishment. In spite of my ability she kept trying new things. When she was a senior she was out late with friends when she called to ask permission to stay over at Paige’s again. I agreed but asked her to call me when she got there shortly. Another hour went by so I drove over to Paige’s house and sat in my car on the street while I called her cell phone. Her answer to my question of, “Where are you?” was a very sincere, “I’m at Paige’s.” She couldn’t think of anything to say when I said,“Well that’s funny because I’m sitting right in front of her house and your car’s not here.”

It may be a little sadistic, but I love moments like that. It’s like reeling in a 10 lb walleye. Kids and fish caught in that situation are both thinking the same thing, “Oh crap, I’m screwed now!”  I really wasn’t interested in punishment anyway, just the realization on their part that their father was all powerful and not to be messed with under any circumstances. My advice to other parents is simple. When you are presented with an Ace-in-the-Hole, never play it right away. Wait for the kid to up the ante and then let them have it. Just don’t gloat too much right in front of them, that would be cruel.

©Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com, 2010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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5 Responses to “If you must hold yourself up to your children as an object lesson, hold yourself up as a warning and not as an example.” (George Bernard Shaw)

  1. inga says:

    …now you know why your kids, like mine, lay in wait for the tiniest change to embarrass their parents in front of guests! I once heard my third of four sons sneak out his basement bedroom window. Imagine how embarrassed he was when he sneaked back in at 4am and found me sleeping on his pillow! 🙂

  2. inga says:

    Please correct my typo, i.e. the tiniest chanCe to embarrass…

  3. Becky says:

    I don’t think I could talk about my kids sexuality and sneakiness without recourse. I still can’t talk about my own!!!

    You are a good dad…honesty is the best policy!

    • grhgraph says:

      Let the chips fall where they may. My kids are too afraid of me to say anything. I never really punished them much so I think they finally realized that it was easier to be honest. I really enjoyed this part of parenting. Matching wits with teenagers who think they know everything was extemely entertaining. The funny part was that the more I confronted my kids and their friends the more popular I got. The kids always congregated at our house and I let them make fun of me as much as they wanted. I guess that makes me a good dad but I was having fun too.
      Thanks, your comments are always appreciated.

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