A Case of the "Didja's"

October 18, 2019

Modern parenting is plagued by a bad case of the “Didja’s.”

You know.  While the content may vary somewhat, here is a sample of some common Didja’s:

  • “Didja (i.e., “Did you”) start your homework?”
  • “Didja finish your homework.
  • “Didja put your stuff away?”
  • “Didja brush your teeth.?
  • “Didja take out the trash?
  • “Didja get out of bed?”
  • “Didja put your lunch in your book bag?”
  • “Didja remember your equipment for practice today?”

On and on it goes.

Guess what’s happening inside the typical kid’s head while he’s being “Didja’d” to death?  That’s right, his eyeballs are snapping inside his head, while he mutters a range of not so pleasant statements, laced with largely unintelligible, but occasionally well-pointed curses leaking out.

Early on in my adolescence my bedroom (in a very small house),  shifted to the basement.  Effectively, it was my lair.  Within the lair, endless hours were spent listening to the Rolling Stones  (over and over) sprinkled with listening to some other lesser bands.  I shudder to think how many hours a day I devoted to this activity between ages 12 – 18 (and even older).  Truth be told, the hours were probably countless.

Even though we lived in a box of a house while I was blasting songs like “Sympathy for the Devil,”  and “Gimme Shelter,”  I don’t remember my parents coming into the lair to find out whether I had done my homework or put my stuff away. (Sadly for them they had to come down and do the laundry.)

If such a thing were available like it is today, maybe my parents would have marched me into a therapist office or some other such medical practitioner  bewildered at how addicted I was to the god-awful music being blasted in the basement while avoiding basic responsibilities. and displaying a shocking lack of “executive functioning.”  (“Doctor, all he can pay attention to is that God awful Mick Jagger.  Does he need medication?”)

But, guess what they did?

That’s right.  Nothing.

They probably kept shrugging their shoulders while looking at each other wondering if their son would ever snap out of it, but it was a largely a “hand’s off” style of parenting.

They never knew what I had for homework (and my dad was a school principal). I don’t remember ever getting bombarded by the “Didja’s.”

I think they believed it was my problem to deal with, not theirs.

You might say something like, “Well, you must have been an excellent student and therefore they didn’t need to hound you to death.”

Hardly.  Trust me, more than studying history or chemistry,  I studied the Rolling Stones.

Looking back on it, I think they were wise.  They knew they had this adolescent creature in the basement who was making his choices and the choices had consequences.  If you choose poorly there are consequences – you deal with it.

Modern parenting has a different philosophy embodied in the bad case of the “Didjas.

On average there is considerable anxiety resulting in  micromanaging virtually every aspect of the child’s day-to-day life.  This anxiety is driven by a deep fear to let the kid experience the consequences of his/her choices.

While the kid is snapping his eyeballs, the micromanaging ultimately fails.

To illustrate, let’s look at a common scenario. Say it’s a typical Saturday and the child has an English project due on Monday morning.  The modern parent will continually tell the kid to get off his video gaming/Youtubing with at least 20 – 25, “Didja start your English project?”  All the while while the kid ignores his mom snapping his eyeballs.

An alternative approach (way scary for most parents – moms) would be to leave the kid alone and come Monday morning just shrug as the kid goes off to school with his project not done, saying something like, “Oh, well.  Too bad you will get an F for that project.  It’s your problem. You deal with it.  (Said with a tone of very chilly anger which works wonders.)

Takeaway Point

Stop with the “Didja’s.”

Repeat the mantra.  “It’s your problem – you deal with it.”

Or as the Rolling Stones so wisely said, “Oh, the storm is threatening, my very life today.  If I don’t get some shelter, yeah, I’m gonna fade away.”  (Gimme Shelter, Mick Jagger/Keith Richards)

Copyright, 2019 www.shutdownlearner.com
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Parent Outrage Quotient“Spelling Doesn’t Matter Anyway”
All comments (2)
  • Stanley Sterenberg
    October 18, 2019 at 11:27 pm

    Just a thought about the Saturday/Monday English project story. It strikes me that the approach cited might be characterized as a bit passive/aggressive -- saying […] Read MoreJust a thought about the Saturday/Monday English project story. It strikes me that the approach cited might be characterized as a bit passive/aggressive -- saying nothing at all, and then sending the student off on Monday morning with that chilly-angry comment. One possible compromise is to have a brief conversation early on Saturday, explaining that the project is the student's responsibility, perhaps offering help, if desired, but proactively announcing a hands-off policy through the rest of the weekend. Then, tying it together with the thought that whatever is produced over the weekend will be what gets turned in, for better or worse, and that the consequences, good or bad, will have been "earned." Read Less

    • Richard Selznick, Ph.D.
      @Stanley Sterenberg
      October 21, 2019 at 11:12 pm

      Sir Stanley: Agreed. It's funny, but the first couple of versions of the blog did not have that line about the use of chilly/angry comment, but […] Read MoreSir Stanley: Agreed. It's funny, but the first couple of versions of the blog did not have that line about the use of chilly/angry comment, but was more of an afterthought. I could totally see what you are saying. Pat of the suggestion is tied in to my experience that parents tend to use a lot of "hot anger" (i.e., yelling) as the number one parenting strategy when parents buttons are pushed. The chilly anger is perhaps a way of conveying to the kid that, "Yes, I am indeed angry with you, but am too angry to speak with you right now." With that said, I am largely in line with what you are saying. Hope you are doing well...thanks for continuing to read my stuff. Read Less


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