She had me. I knew it. She knew it. Her logical argument had cleverly rendered my previous protests moot. After trying my best to use logic and reason to persuade her, using each trick I could think of, even bribery, she still had me. Now, there was really nothing left to do but apologize, retreat and admit I was wrong.
I opened my mouth: Nope. Couldn’t do it.
I couldn’t relent and admit I was wrong and her argument stronger than mine. This wasn’t about a female beating a male. This wasn’t the manifestation of fragile pride and ego. This was something more.
This was a 6-year-old proving me wrong.
I suppose as a proud dad, I should be filled with pride when my 6-year-old daughter is able to successfully debate me, but I’m not. I find myself just man enough to admit I get a little petty when she is right and I’m wrong. I’m not particularly proud of this reality, but kids have a unique way of exposing our weaknesses and failures. When my daughter is able to reveal an unfair decision I’ve made, or successfully argue why she should be allowed to do something after I told her she couldn’t, my first instinct is to never give in. It’s innate. It feels compulsive. No matter how wrong I am, I struggle to admit I’m wrong.
I take some solace knowing I am not alone with this affliction. No one is eager to admit they are wrong, but the pervasive tendency to resist surrender, even once the argument has clearly been lost, has become a blight on polite society. How can we as parents tackle a failing of all humanity? All we have to do is something we currently do all the time: be wrong.
Wrong-headed about not ‘fessing up
Today my youngest, who still months away from being 3, woke up from her nap prematurely. I decided since she was awake, she should eat lunch with the rest of us. She resisted. In fact, she resisted so strongly, my wife immerged from her home office to ask me if I needed help. It was good timing. I had lost control of the situation, and I was even close to losing my temper. Why? Because I refused to accept an alternate view point. I refused to admit I was wrong.
It’s certainly not natural to let a 2-year-old be in charge. I’m a big believer that the parents are always in charge, but that doesn’t mean their decisions are always right. In this situation, it was foolish of me to try and force my daughter to eat after she woke up way too early from her nap. I’ve been doing this long enough to know how illogical that is, but it didn’t matter. I said eat. She should eat. And so we went to war. She, pushing her plate of food away. Me, grabbing the plate and slamming it back down in front of her shouting, “Eat!” Yeah … real pro parenting move there. All I had to do was pause, think about the situation, and admit I was wrong.
Parents aren’t good at admitting they are wrong, but I think it’s something we need to do more often. I wonder the long term, cumulative effect of parents raising children in homes where those who are wrong admit they are wrong. Imagine if kids were raised to relent in the face of reason, wisdom and facts? How pliable would minds become? Would dogma be defeated? Maybe indoctrination would become less prevalent? Would weak minds and shallow arguments grow silent?
We can hope.
The counterintuitive ideas are often hard to accept, but the quest to be right can only be satisfied once someone has the courage to admit they are wrong. You can trust me, because I’m wrong a lot.
Well, except this time. This time, I’m completely right.