Me: Do you want chicken soup or a baked potato for dinner?
Me (slightly louder): Do you want chicken soup or a baked potato for dinner?
Me (definitely louder): Do you want chicken soup or a baked potato for dinner?
Me (dialed up to 11): I said do you want . . .
Does this conversation sound familiar to you? Do you find your voice rising, your tone getting harsher, and still no response? You are not alone. For a while almost every conversation I was having with my children sounded just like that!
Believe me, I never wanted to become that parent. None of us do. So why is it so easy to fall into the habit of nagging?
Mostly it’s a question of acting on instinct. We get distracted. Whether it’s our job, our phone, our worries, our to-do list, something is consuming our thoughts and we start acting on auto-pilot.
Another reason parents nag is because they are trying to assert their authority.
We make the mistake of equating parental authority with bossiness instead of leadership. According to Dr. Robert Myers, PhD, nagging says, in effect, “I will stop punishing you with this annoying nagging when you do what I want you to.”
While it’s good to teach your children to respect authority, nagging doesn’t actually accomplish that goal. A good parent doesn’t demand respect. We earn respect by showing respect. And we teach respect by showing respect.