Posted by: workforcookies | June 27, 2009

Backseat Parenting

images-1On my way home from a conference in Washington DC, I made the mistake of telling my cab driver I couldn’t wait to get home to see my kids. True to taxi-driver form, he took this as an invitation, not only to engage in conversation, but to instruct me in the art of parenting.
“Don’t let your children run the show. You tell them what the rules are and as long as they are in your house you make sure they follow your rules. The minute they start telling you what the rules are, it’s all over,” He stopped talking just long enough to take a breath and I couldn’t help but feel a little sorry for any child who grew up with a dad so well practiced in doling out orders.
If he hadn’t been so passionate (read loud) as he commanded me to step up to the plate as a parent, I might have enjoyed his sing-songy accent a little more. From somewhere in the West Indies, I guessed as he began to thank God (who, no doubt, had no trouble hearing him) that evils like Facebook and Twitter didn’t exist when his children were growing up.
“You have to know what they’re doing all the time, and how is a parent supposed to know these days?”…not giving me even half a second to answer…”You have to STAY…ON… TOP…OF…THEM. I did, and oh, oh, oh, they complained. But now, now, that they are all grown and in college, they thank me.”H
Another breath and I jumped at the chance to shift the focus off my parenting skills—that are clearly, in his opinion, lacking—and on to the education of his children.
“Where did they go to college?” I asked, not even knowing how many THEY are. It turns out, THEY are three: One who received a PhD from Duke where he is currently working on a medical degree, a second who is working on a PhD in acoustics from the University of Maryland and a third who is getting a degree in computer engineering from Pen State.
So maybe there’s something to be said for his STAY…ON…TOP…OF…THEM approach. I just hope you don’t have to be as loud as my cab driver is for the technique to work!



  1. Who was minding the store while he was working to provide opportunities. Maybe the wife and husband were a good team and it all worked for the good.

  2. So many times I get into a cab and I engage the cabbie in conversation (not the other way around- you know me!!) and it’s the same time and time again- my son/daughter is in college doing this or that and I think- he is working his ASS off to make something of his kids and, while the methods are not always ours, I believe they have taught thier children the value of opportunity, hard work and maybe, most of all, dignity. Funny where you pick things up:) Love you and all your words!


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