Tuesday, November 15, 2005

How to make your daughter arrive home early from a party?

It is the birthday party of your teenage daughter Bindu's best friend, Vanessa! And you know she does want to have a late night with her friends. But the protective father that you are--you now know better because of all the late-night parties that you had been to in college and remember, how you had cursed all the fathers of your ex-girlfriends for making them leave the party early. So you want to make your daughter come home before the deadline 12 midnight. How can this be achieved?

"I won't let you go. Period."
I doubt it will work for long!

"I won't let you enter the house if you come after 12! And i won't talk to you again!"

The problem with an option is that this is what will happen...Bindu wants to come back home, she thinks that she is gonna leave in another 15 minutes to meet the deadline, but just after she finishes talking to this cute guy! And then time slips by soon (it always does when you are speaking with hot people). Soon, she realises that she is not gonna meet the deadline, so she might as well chill late. And every child's dream is a silent parent and a credit card that speaks for itself! You lose on both propositions.

"If you come before 12, then I will buy you that black dress you always wanted!"

Ah! Now you are playing economist, playing the profit game. Make her actions profit and she will do it. Will it work? Maybe once, but in the long run it might prove too costly for you. And children never forget!

Let me think aloud on the meaning of profit at this juncture. Profit as usually understood implies a gain of some thing (cash or kind). Profit as should be understood (with all modesty) is a psychic gain. So you feel good when you give money to a beggar, there is a psychic profit in the action. Well, you may not feel good about it but you may feel that you ought to have done it. So you gave money to the beggar. The ought had a psychic payoff and so you did it. Saving a baby from a fire had also a psychic pay-off and so you did it. We will not attach values (good or bad, selfish or altruistic) to these ideas, that is reserved for later posts.

So, it may work to have psychic incentives in place for your daughter to come home early. I know a friend who is near the party's location at about 12 and "waiting" for the daughter to leave the party. I know few daughters who will keep a dear father waiting. I know a mother who uses this tactic with her daughter -- agree on a deadline, and once the deadline is crossed cellphone calls start pouring in "Bindu beti, are you fine. I am waiting for you." If she has a boyfriend then all the better. Tell him that you want her back by 12 and he will do it to be in your good books. Am still looking for ideas!

Now will this principle work with your son. I am inclined to disagree. Boys, you know...

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