Somewhere between "Perry Mason" and "Law and Order," we parents adopted cross examination as a way of talking to our kids.
For example, when my daughter Mary was young I found her bouncing on the living room couch.
"What are you doing?"
"Bouncing on the couch."
"Are you supposed to be bouncing on the couch?"
"Then why are you bouncing on the couch?"
"Because it's fun!"
Other than raising my blood pressure 20 or so points, I don't think I accomplished much in those exchanges.
Another time, when I was doing the dishes, I heard a suspicious crash from the living room.
"What was that?" I asked my son Jon.
"What was what?" he countered.
"You know what," I continued, hands still in the suds.
"Oh, you mean the sound like a lamp crashing to the floor?"
"Oh," he pondered, "I don't know what that was."
Blood pounding in my ears
I should have caught Mary in mid-air, set her on the floor, and simply said, "We don't jump on the couch. Now, scoot!"
At the first scary sound, I should have dried my hands and joined Jon in the living room to see what was what.
As I look back, my kids didn't need a good-talking lawyer; they needed an action hero.
When Rick Kennedy and his wife Libby weren't protecting the furniture in their Clintonville home from their now-grown children Matt, Mary and Jon, he has been a social worker at Nationwide Children's Hospital, conducting parenting and anger-management courses. Every month, we'll be looking for a Parent Perspective from our readers. Log on to ColumbusParent.com to find out what the next issue's topic is and what kind of great prize we'll be offering the winner!