B e careful what tools you use with your children, as one day they just might learn them well enough to use against you. I attended a conference some time ago, and the topic of compromise arose. At the time, I did not anticipate what an effective tool this could be with some of my more difficult students, and even less prepared on how much would use this as a parenting tool with my own children. I should preface this by saying that compromise isn’t always appropriate, specifically when it is regarding safety, or fundamental values. It’s never “OK” to give personal information to a stranger, never “OK” to drive with someone who has used drugs or alcohol, it’s never “OK” to inflict emotional pain on others. But as parents we need to teach our children about all the grey areas in our world and that happiness exists even in a sea of grey. This plan was working until my kids wanted to get a dog. We’ve had a dog. I loved our dog. But after 5 years of living in a hair-free house and poo-free yard, I was happy being a non-dog owner. My gut instinct was to abandon my parenting tools, draw a hard line, and simply tell my kids “NO”. But my youngest was working on sleeping in her own bed, when discussing a motivator, she reminded me her cousin got a dog when he slept in his own bed for a month straight. When I agreed to consider dog, I wasn’t prepared to have my oldest daughter up the ante by saying she would make her bed every day, to show they would take care of a dog. Things just got real. So, at dinner one evening, I began laying out the terms. The dog must be a no-shed breed and not too large. I had 5 smiling faces (one being my husband’s) all nod at me. I tell them that the dog must be trained to go in one small section of the yard. Again, they all agree, and I start to sweat a little. I had a couple of months to wait this out, until my girls held up their end of the bargain. About 45 days into this I and myself thinking of ways to sabotage their success. “If I wake my daughter up late for school. She won’t have time to make her bed... or what about a scary bedtime story for my youngest?” But I had to push those thoughts aside when I saw how much effort everyone was putting into this family project. My kids were agreeing for Pete’s sake, and that alone is a rarity. So, the last week of April I found myself driving to Lumberton, to visit a rescue puppy staying at a foster home. I remind my girls that everyone needs to agree that this was the right dog, praying that my 12-year-old who was the least enthusiastic would hold-out for me. I plant seeds of doubt that the first dog we see may not be the right one, and promise to keep looking. And I say a prayer I have the strength to see this through. As luck would have it, my kids fall in love with the puppy, who is a shepherd mix. She will be big, and shed, I sigh as I think aloud. I hesitantly agree to discuss it on the way home. In the car on the way home, the kids excitedly talk about names, who will feed, walk, and bathe the dog. Again, they are all agreeing. Fast forward a few months, Roxy has been with us since the first week of May. She is crate trained and has her own little corner of the yard to do her business. The yard is being cleaned daily and she has had a bathe every week. You no longer trip over a mountain of shoes when you walk in my house. She responds to a few commands and leash training is in progress. She is so many things that I didn’t want, yet I’m happy she is with us. My kids are learning to work together, and they are all helping care for her. I’m able to get out at night more frequently for walks as she is a great excuse. Bottom line, we all got something we wanted, and we are all happy!