God I love December. For one month a year, we parents have at our disposal a special weapon – The C word. The temptation to slip into lazy parenting is perhaps strongest in this run up to Christmas, after all the big event is built around two stories that expound “being good equals reward” and “being bad equals punishment”. I mean, of course, those of Father Christmas and Jesus. These days few parents would advocate the threat of eternal damnation in getting their child to use a potty, but just look how quickly we lapse into Christmas’ special authority in the enforcement of good behaviour.
“I’m sure Father Christmas would be interested to hear that you’ve not eaten your delicious broccoli ………hmmmmm?” Sound familiar? It’s almost too easy. I will confess that we have instilled into our 3 year old the exposition that the Christmas tree is Santa’s antenna, his eyes and ears into the Conmy household. At the first sign of any bad behaviour I merely raise my eyebrows and point at the tree – cue instant obedience. This is the first year I’ve had a chance to use it and I am drunk on this power. Mwa ha ha ha ha! I can now do all my parenting from the sofa whilst I caress a freshly stacked pyramid of Ferrero Rocher……
Now, of course, I know that I shouldn’t fall back on this, after all the real reasons my son should be eating his broccoli are threefold: because it might have some nutritional benefits, because Daddy had to eat his and most importantly because MUMMY COOKED IT. But we won’t use these – we’ll just point at the tree knowingly and sigh. Ah the magic of Christmas!
Advent parenting is much like a snowman, when you strip away the transformative magic of snow, you are left with a carrot.
And a stick.