I’ve become the parenting equivalent of VAR

A mock VAR screen showing a parenting decision being made.

VAR: what is it good for? Absolutely nothing. Well, that’s what I thought at first and there aren’t many football fans who are too enamoured of it. However, recent parenting experience has given me a hint of sympathy for the beleaguered decision-making system.

I’ll get to my reasons shortly. But first, the context. As a parent of approaching 11 years’ experience, I’ve learned that bringing up children is far from easy.

On the plus side, I’ve also learned that there’s no parenting battle that can’t be eventually ‘won’. For want of a better word. My latest one, though, is possibly the most challenging to date. It’s actually a parenting battle in itself.

By this, I mean that my kids suddenly seem to think that they’re the parents and that my wife and I are mere bystanders.

I don’t know how this has happened but all three of them have been caught pulling up their siblings for minor indiscretions. The difficulty is that, quite often, they’re in the right.

This results in a situation where I have to gently remind the voice of reason that it’s not their place to admonish their brother or sister – before doing so myself.

In turn, this undermines the self-appointed ‘parent’ and sometimes incorrectly leads the perpetrator to believe they’re going to get away with it.

Basically, I’ve become VAR. Or VAP – Virtual Assistant Parent – if you will. My role is now to either upgrade punishments to retain some semblance of parenting authority or allow outrageous acts of childish villainy to go unchecked for a quiet life.

In the old days, the parenting equivalent of a yellow card apiece would suffice. But, much in the way football refereeing has changed, parenting has too.

Kids are so much more knowing these days. My three know so much more than I did at their respective ages. So every decision could have all kinds of repercussions.

So far, I haven’t had them chant “It’s not parenting anymore” at me so maybe I’m doing okay. But I’ve learned that being a VAP and, therefore, a VAR is a no-win situation.

So I’ve come to the conclusion that the only way forward is to willfully misinterpret the system myself. Next time it all kicks off between my kids, I’m going to consult my surrogate pitchside monitor.

And, yes, by that I mean I intend to try leaving them to sort it out for themselves and read football news on my phone instead. What could possibly go wrong?

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