I recently wrote a short piece about ordering The Total Transformation Program after watching a 30-minute infomercial on TV. When the package arrived, I felt a pang of guilt, because my daughters are well behaved and they give us a world of happiness that I’m almost embarrassed to admit. They’ve done nothing wrong to prompt this research project, but I like to anticipate what may happen next. I plan disasters you see, and I’m convinced teenagers turn into the spawn of Satan by the time they turn 15.
So, I’m preparing to dance with the devil herself.
As I cracked open the instructions (more demanding than a one room school teacher), I discovered that parents who order this disciplinary guide have serious troubles at home. If you have a rude, crude, obnoxious, violent, defiant child sleeping under your roof, then The Total Transformation Program better be on your bedside table next to the King James. But what if your child (the age bracket begins at age five) has a couple of quirks — such as playing the victim too often, or playing the politician to say all the things you expect him or her to believe, just to get out of trouble?
I know. I got scared, too. I felt like I’d hired a lawyer to find potential lawsuits in my life. I didn’t have any problems when I sat down at the kitchen counter, but after I got up, I felt like we needed a family intervention.
But wait! There’s more!
So one of my daughters plays the victim and the other plays politics. What about me?
Dr. Lehman, the Total Transformation Program therapist, reveals that I’m the biggest problem of all. ME! In fact, it’s amazing that my daughters have gotten this far in life.
I’m a Perfectionist, a Screamer, and at times, a Martyr. I tend to blame myself more than anyone or anything else (see Perfectionist), but this time, I’m taking Dad down with me. He’s a Bottomless Pocket, Ticket-Punching, Savior.
Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me…much.
THE BOOK, which is how I will refer to it from now on, suggests that our parenting roles are, at times, ineffective. But if it ain’t broke, why try to fix it?
I may not fix it, but I can be aware of what works now … because it might not work later. I need to tweak how I manage the girls as they grow older.
This just might be the most important lesson for parents: Be aware. Don’t be different, but be mindful of what we do (on occasion) that trigger behaviors in our children that we don’t like. No, it’s not all our fault, but children learn from what they witness at home. They take the best (and worst) of us wherever they go. We should at least be cognizant of our own weak spots so we can prevent tension and turmoil later on.
So, I’ve been humbled. I opened the book (and the seven DVDs) thinking that I would read about other people’s problems. Instead, I recognized all of us. There are no perfect children, and no matter how hard we work, there are no perfect parents. The challenge is to find a way to solve problems without creating great divides in the relationships we cherish.
I bought the program after high school senior Rachel Canning sued her parents for tuition and living expenses despite moving out of the family home. My daughters will not turn out like that kid, I said to myself. And they probably won’t. But now I see that we could turn out like Rachel Canning’s parents if we don’t change our ways.