Saturday, October 6, 2012

  Trial Law for pre-parents.

This really should be a required class at some level of the educational experience.   Forget birth education, parenting style seminars and the debates over when to introduce solids, when to potty train and when /if you let a child cry themselves to sleep.   I have news for you:   Most children will eventually sleep, eat, pee and poop in a socially acceptable manner  On. Their. Own.   Many times in spite of , not because of, any method you choose to employ.

Therefore I submit that  pre-parents' precious time, money and energy be spent on a much more valuable class.  Trial Law.
The majority of your parenting years will be spent attempting to reason with small people who are concrete, literal thinkers and happen to live in your house.  You will quickly figure out that the Halls of the Upstairs can be turned into the Halls of Parental Injustice in the blink of an eye, so why not get some legal training?

Think about it.  What makes a successful trial lawyer?   One who knows and applies the following rules:
1) Only ask a witness questions to which you already know the answer.
2) Ask  a witness mostly yes or no questions.
3) Stop a witness immediately after they have given a minimal satisfactory response.
4) Some witnesses may be considered "hostile".
Substitute the word "child" for "witness" and I believe we have the perfect parenting class!

Case in point:
My children are old enough to take care of ALL of their personal hygiene needs. I could just assume that they are performing the needed tasks at the appropriate times, but since putting myself through my own little pre-law course (list of materials can be found at the end of this post)  I know that I must become the trial lawyer mom every night at bed time.  The living/courtroom scene usually plays out something like this:
(court stenographer skills not necessary unless going for advanced parenting of teenagers certification)

Mom: Did you brush your teeth?   (rule 1 &2)
Child: Yes.
Mom: Tonight?
Child : Yes
Mom: With toothpaste?
Child : ummmmm, well , you see...
Mom: (interrupts...see rules 3&4)  Go. Back. Up. Stairs. And. Brush. With. Tooth. Paste.

Various other items (shampoo, dental floss, deodorant  etc...) should be checked on random evenings to keep the witness guessing.

Second only to Trial Law in importance is Contract Law.  You should always, always, always  remember to leave multiple layered contingencies in any contract you make with any witness  child living in your home under the legal driving age.    For example:

Mom:  If you clean your room by lunch, then I will take you to the zoo.
Child: OK

Now in my opinion, this contract does not have enough clauses and sub-paragraphs in it.  An almost air-tight liability free contract should look something like this:

Mom:  If you clean your room by lunch,  don't hit your sister, eat all your veggies, leave the cat alone, get your shoes on when I tell you, don't fuss in the car, don't cry when its time to leave, the planets align, and you promise to put me in a retirement home in Hawaii while I'm still young enough to enjoy it, then I will take you to the zoo.
Child: OK

See?   Much better!
After they reach legal driving age, an auditory signal is often enough to produce the desired behavioral results :   the jingling of the car keys.  Almost no other contract required.

So, my dear jury of readers, should you happen upon some poor, unsuspecting victim  pre-parent at the local bookstore standing in front of the fourteen shelves of parenting books, please do them the favor of rendering the verdict of  "useless on almost all counts" to the entire parenting collection and gently guide them to the much smaller, but infinitely more useful legal section.   They will thank you for it later, when they realize that they didn't miss the class on that.

**** I have found that the best legal training can be found on cable TV, as there is hardly an hour of programming that does not include some episode of some version of Law and Order on some re-run channel.

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