nardy asks: How can I convince my parents to buy me my dream phone? Every time I’ve asked, they say next week, and the last time I told mother to buy me that phone, she told me to shut up or she won’t buy it for me. I really want it quickly. What can I do?
Hi nardy –
So I’m going to be kind of mean here, but I have no doubt that everyone who reads your letter on my website will have a little laugh at one sentence in it. When you say “the last time I told my mother to buy me that phone…” you probably hit on the biggest problem you’ve got. Parents do NOT like to be told what to do. Sometimes you might want to, or have to, order them to do something (such as “Wake up, Mommy! The house is on fire!”), but they’re never going to like the way it sounds.
Much as some parents try to be “best friends” with their kids, the fact is that parents, like teachers, police, bosses, and politicians, are Authority Figures. This means that they expect to be treated with respect, and asked things. When they’re told what to do, it makes them feel like they’re not being respected in their position, and it makes them (here’s the important part, nardy!) want to refuse to do what you’re telling them.
And since buying you a phone doesn’t have the urgency of, say, waking up during a house fire, your parents’ inclination will automatically be to say no. Even if they actually want to get you that phone!
I hate to think of what would happen if I “told” Handsome to feed me every day. He’d get all annoyed, and refuse. But if I walk up to him and put my head in his lap, and give a little whine, and walk over to my empty food bowl, his heart totally melts, and he feeds me extra!!
So here’s what to do. First off, don’t mention the phone for at least ten days. Instead, be great. Do your chores without being told (or asked!), finish your homework before they have a chance to remind you about it, go to bed and get up on time… all that. And if you’re watching TV or listening to music, keep the sound down so it doesn’t bother them. Just be fantastic in their eyes.
Then, after those ten days (or more if they’re in bad moods – why waste a good request?!), politely ask about the phone. And not “Can we get it today?” Rather, something like “I don’t want to seem too pushy, but do you remember that phone we were talking about a couple of weeks ago?” And if they roll their eyes, or look annoyed, just smile and say, “Whoops, sorry, I guess I am being too pushy!” And change the subject. Believe me, even just doing that will please them, since you’re showing that you’re honoring their authority!
But if they don’t react that way, see if maybe they’re ready to plan a trip to the phone store. Just don’t push.
Remember, nardy, the big trick here is always to make them feel good about buying the phone. Later in your life, you might study sales and marketing, where you’ll learn the same thing – the trick to being a good salesperson is to make the customer feel good about their purchase.
Maybe they’ll feel as good as you will when you get that phone!!