Thursday, January 29, 2009

Parental Promises vs. Parental Ethics

Back in September of last year I wrote about my daughter's desire to get her lip pierced and the Great Compromise.

In a nutshell, I said NO to any facial piercings or any tattoos until she turned 18 and didn't need my permission. In exchange I reversed my position on her previous request to get her belly button pierced.

I specifically remember asking her what her mother said about this arrangement and her reply was "As long as you are willing to take me and sign the permission slip it's OK with her, but she won't do it."

I remember thinking that seemed a bit strange. Either she agrees or doesn't agree...what difference does it make which one of us takes her and signs the paper?

Well. Got a voice mail from the 2nd ex tonight. GTO desperately wants to get her lip pierced for her birthday on Sunday. Told her mom she promised not to wear it around me.

I called the ex back and explained the Great Compromise. Turns out GTO's version of her mother's position wasn't exactly accurate. The ex was dead set against the belly button piercing or any other piercings. Period!

In fact, GTO used that as an example of something that I was willing to do in spite of her mother's objections, therefore, her mother should be willing to do this over my objections.

Yeah, we ain't playing that shit.

Her mother and I have reached an agreement that neither one of us will agree to or authorize any more piercings for GTO. Not no where, not no how, not no way.

Which means, I will be forced to go back on My Word. Something I've never done before.

But I'm mostly OK with it for a couple of reasons.

As our marriage was crumbling and we were going through a painful divorce, we agreed to always put GTO first, to always present a united front, and to never, ever, let her "play" us.

And that is exactly what GTO tried to do. She tried to play me by misrepresenting her mother's position, and she tried to play her mother by throwing me under the bus!

That doesn't make her a bad person. It makes her a 15 year old girl who wants something.

But I feel like my promise to allow her to get her belly button pierced was obtained under false premises and that voids My Word.

So, because I value the input from my friends and readers, what do you think?

Is a promise a promise? Should I have kept My Word regardless?

Or is it more important for both parents (no matter how much I may despise the crazy bitch) pull together and present a united front when it comes to what's best for the child?

Discuss.

16 comments:

Donna said...

You are exactly right. Explain to the daughter why you're going back on your word.

I'm with you, the belly-button piercing wouldn't be such a bad thing (but then, I have a 21-year-old granddaughter with multiple piercings). But not if Mom didn't want it in the first place.

You seem like a good dad to me.

Old Fart said...

Ah, the old days of playing divorced parents against each other... I remember them well.

She needs to learn that if she lies to her mother or father, and gets caught that there are consequences to be suffered. In this case, that is a voiding of the agreement.

But you already knew that.

m.v. said...

that was and is our agreement too. she knows if she is caught doing that crap big trouble will follow.although I don't ever emphasize "My Word", more like "my word"

Joe said...

The agreement is void, gotten under fasle pretenses. If its possible, a united front is preferable. And in this case, showing GTO that you have a united front with her mom is valuable.
I don't think you're going back on your word when she was pulling wool on you in the first place.

Xavier Onassis said...

Thanks everyone! Divorced parenting is hard. It's nice to be able to validate your decisions with other people whose opinions you respect.

I'm thinking I may need to add another caveat to the deal.

Since her mother and I are presenting a united front on no new piercings until she is 18, she may try to bypass us.

She may do it herself or have a friend do it. I'm not so old that I don't remember what teenagers are like.

So tell me. Is this too harsh?

I pay for her cell phone plan. I'm adding unlimited internet access to her T-Mobile Sidekick as part of my birthday present to her on Sunday.

She absolutely LIVES on her phone.

What if I told her that if she got an unauthorized piercing before she turned 18 that I would cut off her cell phone for 1 year.

Is that too much? Over the top? Or just right?

Eartha Delights said...

You are 100% in the right, sir. And GTO should be glad she isn't my kid, cuz not getting a hole in her belly button would be the least of her woes after a stunt like that.

Eoali said...

There is no agreement, because she played you to get it.

But even if there were a genuine promise in place, her best interest comes first - which in this instance in the united front of her parents - so a hit to your pride of breaking your word is the price you pay for that best interest. A lose-lose if you like, for the overall greater good.

And the 1 year thing? Only do it if you really mean to carry it out. And don't do it if you think you'd react badly to her going ahead with that stuff when she turns 18, like by not paying for something that you would have if she hadn't gone and done it. But really the threat of a year's cutting-off should only be done if her mother is in agreement with you.

Nuke said...

A promise from a parent to a child is a big deal and shouldn't be broken lightly. But since you reached the "Great Compromise" and she was trying to wriggle out of her end, you were totally correct in your actions.

As Eoali said, if you use a threat as part of a new compromise, be prepared to back it up. If you don't you loose a lot of power.

And not to slight GTO's ingenuity, but if she had spent a weekend around you with her facial piercing out, it would probably have closed up anyway. I have had an ear-hole for over 15 years, and it gets real tight with just a couple days of not putting a ring in.

All in all, I think you are doin great.

I Travel for JOOLS said...

She lied to you. You are punishing her. You agree with wife .. all good. I don't, however, think I'd tell her what her next punishment would be if she deceives you again. I'd just tell her that next time the punishment will be worse and she won't like it one bit. But -- keep the birthday present out of it for now and let it be just what it was intended to be - a happy occasion. Heck, you might be dealing with things like a car then and believe me taking away car privileges are the ultimate punishment and work really well.
:-)

Keith Sader said...

You're doing the correct thing. IMO you've got a good divorce going ;-)

May said...

Sounds like the right choice to me.

MoxieMamaKC said...

Stand firm!!! My 4 year old has already been using this tactic, even though we aren't divorced. She decides who's most likely to say yes, waits until we're in seperate rooms and then swoops in for the asking. Playing both sides isn't fair to you or your ex.

Logtar said...

You both got Pwned by a lack of communication. You need to talk to her more (your ex) to really present a united front you have to be on the same page. Kudos to your daughter for ALMOST playing ya! good catch though.

However, I would have called BS a lot earlier on the Mom is ok with it.

SmedRock said...

Jools has the right plan. That car will be HUGE. But you can cut individual services... Or just tour a jail with her lol...

PlazaJen said...

I'm just echoing what everyone else is saying - but yeah - your Great Compromise on the piercing was based on misinformation/a lie. Ultimately you have to present a united front because you are the adults & she is the child, and to not do so would only keep that door open for more mischief down the road.
She may disobey, and there should be consequences, of course, but I hope for everyone's sake, she doesn't do it. Especially the lip one. Yeech.

Absolutely Feisty said...

Next time I'm over.. I'll show GTO what a belly button ring looks like after 15 years, and one child..

It may just fucking cure her.

Also.. you could offer up something that she wants more.. like the internet on her phone.. eh eh? I'm good, right? ; )