A Parenting Guide to the Theory of Reciprocity

ImgSrc: http://www.joy-of-cartoon-pictures.com/cleaning-cartoons.html


(rĕs’ə-prŏs’ĭ-tē)n.pl., -ties.

  1. A reciprocal condition or relationship.
  2. A mutual or cooperative interchange of favors or privileges, especially the exchange of rights or privileges of trade between nations.

Definition supplied by Answers.com

Kids make me laugh, especially when I can take them off guard and one-up them in the intelligence department.  Trust me, it doesn’t happen often; but, when it does, it sets me up for a great mood for the remainder of the day.  And, when I can not only win the battle of the brain, but also win the battle of wills, then you might catch me smiling for days.

Take, for example, a situation I encountered with my teenage daughter.  I’d asked her – repeatedly! – to do a load of dishes.  Not-too-suprisingly, she’d found a gazillion-and-one reasons not to get it done. “I’m really busy,” or “I have to take a shower,” or “You didn’t tell me!” or even “My nose hurts!”  Kids who don’t want to do something will come up with any reason not to get the job accomplished.

As the day wore on and the dishes remained in the sink, my good mood was definitely in need of being restored.  And then the moment came…

“Mom,” Amber said,  “I need to go to the bank to take out some money, and then to Best Buy so I can get the latest season of ‘Supernatural’ on DVD.”

“Ahhh…I see,” I responded.  “I’d say today is a good day to teach you the ‘Theory of Reciprocity.’”

“What’s that?” she asked.

“Well, my dear, for every positive action from you, there can be an equally positive reaction from me.  But, for every negative action from you, there will be an equally negative reaction from me.”

“Huh?” she asked with a truly dumbfounded expression on her face.

“Okay, let me say it a bit differently:  You scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours,” I explained.

She continued to stare at me with ginormous eyes and a completely blank look. “I don’t get it,” she said.

I slowly counted to ten before responding.  “Oh, you’re a smart girl, so I think you do. But let me explain: It means, Sweetheart, that I have dishes in my sink that need to get done.  I’ve asked you at least twenty times today to get them done and they’re still in the sink.  You, on the other hand, have a DVD waiting on you at Best Buy that you’d like to pick up.  My dishes won’t get washed on their own, and I don’t see you walking to Best Buy.  If you’d like to go to Best Buy to pick up that DVD, then you’ll need to begin by doing the dishes.  In this house, that’s what’s known as ‘The Theory of Reciprocity.’”

Image Source: http://mattbekahjax.blogspot.com/2009/06/housework-sucks.html


Ahhhh…I love being an adult.  And I love being smarter than my kids.  But even more than that, I absolutely love having clean dishes that someone else has done!

Housework totally rules now that I’ve learned to apply the Theory of Reciprocity to parenting!

8 responses to “A Parenting Guide to the Theory of Reciprocity”

  1. hahaha! Good one, Cathie! I love it when they finally get it, when it registers and you see it in their face. No need to get upset when you can easily apply the right kind of motherly pressure : )

    I found the whole car/driving thing a real helpful tool when my kids were young teens. Haha!


    1. Ish. You might want to give me some pointers. Mine will (hopefully) be a driver on Thursday. Ish! 🙂


  2. The winner of this round.


    1. Gotta win one sometime. 😉


  3. Very clever, Cathie! I think I need to practice the “The Theory of Reciprocity” in my house, too! 🙂


    1. Hahaha! I need to practice it more often.


  4. Where did you get all this wisdom, your Mother?


    1. Of course not! My mom wasn’t that devious. 🙂 LOL! Love you, Mommy!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: