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Opinion
Palm Coast Tuesday, May 15, 2018 6 months ago

Foreword: $1 to change the family bylaws?

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It was part bribery, part dare, and part reverse psychology. Brilliant!
by: Brian McMillan Executive Editor

One of the best things about watching my children grow up is that I can talk with them about common interests, like sports and movies. But with the greater capacity for communication also comes a greater capacity for arguing about whether family rules are being applied fairly.

“You’re making me wash the frying pan?” one child might say. “You didn’t make him wash the frying pan when he had to do the dishes!”

On one hand, this is infuriating. On the other hand, I have to admire the appeal to precedent. It’s great training for one of my children becoming a lawyer, which happens to be my retirement plan.

To encourage this type of thinking, and to make sure all rules are fairly enforced, I devised the McMillan Family Bylaws and posted them on the refrigerator, like Martin Luther and the 95 Theses.

The bylaws include a list of definitions. A “job” is hereafter defined as “a chore that lasts at least as many minutes as the child’s age” (emphasis added). A “sugary snack” is defined as “any snack comprising greater than 33% added sugar.”

Electronic usage is, of course, a major battleground. Therefore,  I added a definition for “electronic device,” which is “any phone, tablet, DS, Switch or computer.”

When a child is ruled to be in violation by the judge (me), appeals must be submitted in writing, rather than my kids’ preferred method, which is ranting and raving.

One such written argument proposed an amendment to the bylaws. While I was discussing the matter, my sincerity was called into question by my 11-year-old son, Grant. He told his 14-year-old brother: “Jackson, just give up. They’re never going to change any bylaws.” Then Grant turned to me and said, “Dad, I’ll give you a dollar if you ever change a bylaw.”

It was part bribery, part dare, and part reverse psychology. Brilliant!

Then, a twist, when Jackson discovered a loophole: The Nintendo Wii was not listed as an “electronic device.” As I furiously typed up a revision to the bylaws to make the definition more broad, Jackson and Grant raced to their bedroom to play video games, which, I admit, was completely legal at the time.

I posted the revision to the refrigerator door with a flourish, and I got the last laugh: Grant owed me a dollar.

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