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Be A Selfish Parent. . .Those Are The Best Kind

July 2, 2015

If you’ve read this blog much, you know that I have 13 kids. It’s right there in my signature block. A couple things you should know about having that many kids. 

  1. Having more kids hasn’t given me any extra insight into how to be a better parent
  2. Having 13 kids isn’t 4 times harder than having 3: it’s more like 4.33 times harder

But, I am convinced that selfish parents are the best parents. 

At your work do you have to work with other teams? I do. I do it a lot. For example, I got a request earlier this week for a rush job on setting up a new phone line for a line of business we are expanding into. Normally, it takes 5 days for my Telecom team to set up the phone line. 

Jake, the client is asking if we can rush through a new line. How quickly could you get it configured for me once I get you the details?

Five days.

Yeah, I know the service level agreement says five days, but you always get it done sooner. 

True, but I’m only going to commit to meeting our 5 day agreement. 

But, you’ll PROBABLY get it done sooner right?

Yeah. . .Probably.

Jake will likely get my request done within 30 minutes. Possibly within five. But, he will only publically commit to five days.I know exactly why Jake won’t commit to anything less than five days. He’s selfish. But, he’s selfish in a way that I completely understand. 

By holding to the five day target and then getting it done sooner, MUCH sooner, Jake does two things.

  1. Keeps his options open in case he can’t get it done sooner
  2. Looks like a total stud hero for beating his schedule so dramatically

Jake is my friend. He wants to help me, and he will most likely help me absolutely as quickly as he can once I give him the information. However, he’s also answerable to his management. He is going to structure our interactions in such a way that it makes him look good, or at least keeps him from looking bad. He’s more interested in his job than my job.

Because he puts himself first, I trust him. I trust him much more than if he tried to convince me that he was actually putting my needs before his. 

People are in business to make money. That’s why we work. If someone tries to convince me that they are putting me ahead of them, I don’t believe them. Because they are probably lying. But, when someone says that they are willing to help me, but they put their own needs first, that makes perfect sense to me. 

I like working with that kind of selfish people. I understand them, and I trust them. 

My kids are from all over the world; China, India, Columbia, Haiti, USA. My wife and I have adopted kids and we have birth kids. (BTW, it’s considered rude to refer to birth children as “real” children. What’s that make the adopted kids, fakes? The polite term is “bio kids,” or “birth kids.”) 

Over the years we have been very involved in the adoption community. We have lots of friends who have adopted kids. In my experience people adopt kids for one of two reasons

  1. UNSELFISH: They want to rescue a child or children from the devastation of poverty, or foster care, or war, or whatever. Save the children.
  2. SELFISH: They just want a bigger family and adoption is the course they pick.

Option 1 almost always ends in tragedy. Because, as any parent can tell you, your kids, like my kids, like all kids are going to screw up. And as they become teenagers, their screwups somehow become your, our, MY fault. Your kids are going to break things. They are going to lie to you. They are going to disappoint you. It’s what they do. They’re kids. 

The people who adopted for reason #1, the unselfish people are going to have a hard time dealing with ungrateful children. They are naturally going to think, “Don’t you know how much better off you have it than in that orphanage?” I’ve seen parents become resentful, disillusioned even. 

The people who adopted for reason #2, us selfish people are also going to have kids that screw up, that lie, that disappoint us. And we’ll think, “Yep. That’s what kids do. . .no go to your room.” 

So, whether it’s in business or families, go with the selfish option. 

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday at 7:00 AM Mountain Time. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. 

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(c) 2015 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved 

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