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MyNewtBoobs's avatar

Driving from N. Carolina to Disney World - is turning around the car because the kids are misbehaving and going home good parenting, or going too far?

Asked by MyNewtBoobs (19049points) March 20th, 2011

I heard this today “We were going to Disney World all the way from North Carolina. After 12 hours of driving, my kids started fighting and complaining. My husband finally said, ‘If I hear you guys one more time we’re turning around and going back home.’ They annoyed him once again, and we actually went home.”

Is this good parenting, showing kids a strong authority figure, or is it stubborn foolishness, wasting thousands of dollars on a vacation that didn’t happen?

Would you have handled the situation similarly?

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50 Answers

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

Whoops, forgot to post the follow-up on the same site: “Me, my wife, and my 2 kids were driving to Disney World. After almost 12 hours, the kids started to fight. Angry, I shouted to them that if they acted up again, I would turn around and go straight back home. They did, And I kept my word. It was only after my anger was down and we were halfway back did I realize that I’ve wasted hotel fare, DisneyWorld fees, Gas, and clothing. All of it is nonrefundable. FML.”

funkdaddy's avatar

Going too far, he lost his cool and needed to be “right”... 12 hours in the car is too much for anyone’s sanity.

Who learned a lesson?

Lightlyseared's avatar

No. It’s just as childish as whatever crap your kids are getting up to.

YARNLADY's avatar

That is going way too far. When anyone in the car needs a break, it’s time to stop and take some time off. To not allow for proper breaks on a long trip is bad parenting.

Cruiser's avatar

Everybody learned a lesson all right….daddy is a total dick and they will remember that for the rest of their life. My guess is the kids already knew this. Bully parenting at its finest. With a wife involved, that is a whole other nasty chapter.

janbb's avatar

Once he said it, he needed to carry through but it was a stupid thing to say. As others have said, there were far better ways to handle that situation by attending to the needs of the kids. What a sad experience for the family!

BarnacleBill's avatar

The drive from where we live to where we went in FL is about the same as from NC to Orlando. (We didn’t go to Disney) We would leave at 2:00 am. Both of the kids would take dramamine because they were prone to car sickness. I would drive like a bat out of hell, and when I stopped for gas, would leave the engine running so the sound would remain constant, and the kids would stay asleep. They would wake up just as we crossed into Florida, and from there it was a 2 hour car ride. On the trip home, we would make lots of stops in AL, once every two hours.

The first time one of them drove to Florida with friends, I got a phone call, asking if they were lost, because the drive was taking so long. She swore up and down that Florida was only supposed to be 2 hours away from home.

If I had made the trip when they were older, I would have planned to stop and spend the night at some point that was half way, and let them swim in the pool and watch TV in bed. We usually listened to books on tape in the car and talked about them. Cracker Barrel had this deal where you could buy one book on tape, and then for $1 exchange it for another one.I remember listening to Anne of Avonlea, Alice in Wonderland, and The Cat Who Came Out of the Closet in the car.

Cruiser's avatar

Great answer @BarnacleBill you made it work knowing full well what you had on you hands to deal with. Hats off to you!

Seaofclouds's avatar

I agree that they habdled the situation poorly. When I was a kid we made the drive from DE to FL almost every year and it never got to that. It sounds like all of them needed a time out from being in the car.

john65pennington's avatar

The children made their own destiny. Their dad had given them fair warning and they chose to ignore him and lost their Disney trip, because of it.

Sure, they lost a lot of money in not proceeding farther, but their children needed to be taught a lesson and this one was an expensive one.

Did some good come out of this? I will bet my badge that these children will listen to their dad/mother and obey them the next time. The children now see that their dad is their dad and sometimes a lesson to learn comes with a stiff penalty.

Maybe, twelve hours driving played a big part in everyones ability to be ill and rightly so.

Hats off to this dad for teaching a valuable lesson to his children.

Kayak8's avatar

Maybe I am old-fashioned, but I agree with @john65pennington and @janbb. Dad should have offered a more realistic punishment, but whatever he offered as a consequence, he needed to follow through. He may have picked a drastic punishment (out of his own anger), but once he said it, he needed to follow through to be a consistent parent.

I also agree that breaks are called for on a long trip. When I was a kid, my Dad stopped at any Civil War related place along the way. So we got breaks and a chance to run around and burn off steam (and learned a boat-load about the Civil War in the process). As my Dad called it the Civil War and my Mom called it the War of Northern Aggression, we kids would just sit back and listen to them go back and forth (no need for us to add to the mix).

Cruiser's avatar

@john65pennington What lesson were they taught?? To be intolerant? To be mean and cruel? To not pull over when a kids have expected melt-downs?? To reach over the front seat and deliver a not so well aimed backhand because daddy cannot tolerate expected antsy-pants behavior from his own kids and then somehow make them better children or parents when they have their own kids on long distance road trips? Denying something so significant as a trip to Disney that a parent promised their children and then to take it away because that parent was too weak in parenting skills to find a suitable solution to that problem is IMO bully parenting and nothing less and setting the table for bully kids that will grow up bullying their own kids.

AmWiser's avatar

^I sooo agree with @Cruiser especially ’reach over the front seat and deliver a not so well aimed backhand because daddy cannot tolerate expected antsy-pants behavior from his own kids’. And that is not child abuse. And since we are only talking 2 kids, why couldn’t you put one child and one parent in the front and back for a distance of the trip. There were just to many other options instead of turning around and going home.

marinelife's avatar

With a warning or multiple warnings, It is good parenting.

Vacations are a reward. Good behavior is a must.

12Oaks's avatar

My brother planned to take his kids to Disney from rights around Chicago in May. He let the kids think the trip was planned for April. They packed the car, gassed up, started driving. Within hours, they kids started fighting. he warned them to stop or he’ll turn around and go home. Soon after the fighting continued, so they were back home later that day. The kids begged and begged, still wanting to go. He finally “gave in,” and they departed for the regulary scheduled vacation on the regulary scheduled day, with the promise of fighting is your ticket back home. SURPRISE!! No fighting the whole trip.

Oh, and I agree with your original posted question. They were warned, knew the consequences of fighting, and continued to do so. Can’t see the problem.

optimisticpessimist's avatar

I also agree that once he said it, he had to follow through. Maybe the threat was too harsh, but once made not following through would have weakened his parenting position. I see this too much in the small things. People who threaten their children with no dessert, no tv, etc., but once it becomes inconvenient to the parent(s) to carry out the punishment they back down. The child(ren) no longer listen to the parent(s) because they are pretty sure it is all a bluff.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

I agree with John P.

john65pennington's avatar

Cruiser, I basically believe in most of your answer. I guess what I was aiming for was respect the children did not have for their dad. Once their dad made that decision(whether is was good or bad), he had no choice, but to follow through with it. I agree it was to the extreme, but they were the choices that both the children and their dad made.

When I was about 7 years old, my parents took my brother and I on vacation to Florida. Enroute, my brother and I never let up on being jerks in the back seat of my dads old Oldsmobile. My dad had given us fair warning to stop the “horseplaying in the back seat”. We ignored our dad and kept at it. My dad was furious. He was driving and turned around to smack us in the face. We both ducked and his fist hit and broke the car window. It did not break his hand, but we paid dearly for it.

The point here is that my brother and I learned a valuable lesson that day. That our dad meant business when he ordered us to stop the horseplaying around. We never did that again and we both respected our dad for following through with his punishment.

If children do not learn from their parents, then who will teach them?

john65pennington's avatar

Good morning. Lucy!!!

cookieman's avatar

I agree with John P. also.

I have left entire carriages filled with groceries in the middle of the aisle. I have cancelled dinners. Not attended birthday parties. I threw her brand new iPod touch in the barrel just last week.

Guess I’m old fashioned too.

Aster's avatar

Dad is not only a bully, he didn’t want to go on the trip to begin with. Parents have to know HOW to do vacations with kids. You take frequent breaks. Go to overlooks, let them use restrooms, buy them ice cream cones, play car games with them, sing songs. I do not believe the kids have “learned a lesson” and I think they’ll start fighting again on the next lovely trip. Kids are kids, not so-called adults. This brings to mind one trip when I was a kid. My dad said, “Aster, *get in the back seat and shut up!!!!” lol

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

Good morning,John!:)

funkdaddy's avatar

Taking a swing at a 7 year old = solid parenting? Wowza.

As far as learning lessons go, do you think the kids or the dad will remember this lesson longer?

When I was about 13 (summer before highschool) my grandparents were nice enough to take me and my brother for a summer. They had an RV and we were traveling through Alaska, down the west coast through California and then were going to head back up to their home in Oregon through most of the western US. It sounded like a great opportunity.

It was a complete disaster. My grandparents were expecting small children who would sleep most of the day and we were pretty much teenagers who wanted to get out and do things for ourselves.

Eventually when we got to Oregon they put us on a plane back home as punishment.

We were thrilled to be home and I didn’t even know they thought of it as punishment until I was much older and heard the story from my parents. I could see things from their perspective at that point, but that summer I was just glad I had some time left to hang out with my friends.

The point is kids have a short memory for this sort of thing. They can have as much fun in their back yard with their friends as they can at Disneyworld. The only thing they’ll remember about the trip is a horrible family outing.

Dad will remember the $1500 he blew on a 24 hour car ride a lot longer I think.

filmfann's avatar

I’m with @fundaddy. 12 hours in a car would make anyone fussy.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

So anytime you say something, you have to follow through in order to be a consistent parent? You can’t ever just say “Sorry, I shouldn’t have said that. We’re still going to go to Disney World, but when we get home, you’re grounded for a week.” I would think that showing your kids that you are a human being who makes mistakes but is willing to work on themselves and apply logic and rational to improve themselves would make them respect you much more than showing that you have an iron fist.

My parents pulled crap like this all the time on me. I can’t begin to tell you how little respect I have for them, and stunts like this didn’t make them seem respectable but rather crazy. Nor did it teach me to be obedient – at least, not enough for their liking. Respect is not the same thing as obedience – you’re only going to teach your kid to respect you by being someone they want to respect.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@funkdaddy Gas, clothing, hotel fees, DisneyWorld fees – I’m thinking that’s more like 5 thousand. Unless the threads on how expensive going to Disney World is have been lying to me

12Oaks's avatar

@MyNewtBoobs Clothing? You need new clothes to go to Disneyworld? Not that I’d ever go, but that seems interesting.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@12Oaks Probably something like bathing suits that fit the kids.

janbb's avatar

Yeah – I was thinking more about my answer and I think if it were me, I might have started for home, realized I made a mistake and told the kids that I had made a mistake and changed my mind. I do think it is important to show kids that you mean what you say, but perhaps it is more important to realize when you have made a mistake and own up to it. I know I have done so in the past. It was wrong to spoil a good family time over this.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@janbb I guess I don’t really get the idea that every situation is the line between your kids respecting you and your kids turning into spoiled brats who never, ever obey you – I would think it would rather be a large aggregate of things.

janbb's avatar

Oh, I agree. My kids certainly saw me as very human with many flaws and still manage to love and respect me.

KatawaGrey's avatar

I am not a parent, but I have to wonder if the kids are like this all the time. If that is the case, then something needed to be done about it long before a trip to Disney. However, if this is a rare occurrence, I think the solution would have been to pull over and let everyone stretch and calm down, maybe even for a full hour. Turning around and spending another 12 hours in the car is just plain stupid. It shows that it is more important for dad to be right than to be a caring parent. Also, why didn’t mom say anything? It certainly shouldn’t just be up to dad to make these kinds of decisions. There were many solutions to this problem that did not involve wasting all that money and trapping an even more unhappy family in a car for another twelve hours. For example, they could have split the kids up. One could sit in front with the driving parent and one could sit in back with the non-driving parent. As @MyNewtBoobs said, the parents could have grounded the kids after vacation. Or, wow, here’s a crazy and wild thought, mom and dad could have pulled over and talked to the kids about why they were fighting. Maybe Johnny hid Suzie’s swim suit before the trip so Suzie retaliated by calling the girl Johnny likes behind Johnny’s back. Maybe they always fight in which case, it was up to the parents to know that their kids would pick at each other the whole car ride and the kids shouldn’t be punished just because they don’t get along.

janbb's avatar

This is slightly off-topic but my adult son just called to apologize for sounding brusque on the phone on Friday (I hadn’t been upset) and to make plans for when we come up to help out while he has surgery. I certainly made a lot mistakes, backtracked at times, apologized, cried, hugged and laughed – and it’s worked out great in the end.

Cruiser's avatar

@john65pennington The hardest lesson I learned as a parent is my kids reactions, behaviors and responses are a DIRECT reflection of what I have taught and or demonstrated to my kids….plain and simple. If you cannot admit that, then I pity the kids more than the people who have to endure the kids bad behavior. Kids are a mirror image of their parents plain and simple…no if’s and’s or butts!

Sugar coat it, color it or medicated it any way you need to to justify poor kid behavior and bully parenting, but you ain’t fooling me.

quarkquarkquark's avatar

Speaking as a reformed unparentable child, I would say that the ideal scenario would involve your husband turning the car around and then, seemingly reluctant, bowing to pressure to turn in the direction of Disney World once more. Then, if the kids misbehave again, it really isn’t going too far to turn around again, and if they don’t, they’ve learned their lesson.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

Fact from fiction, truth from diction. Dad was right, though I would have handled it slightly different. Too many times parent ”hand the keys to the mansion to the butler” then live there as guest instead of the owners. If it took 12 hours to get to where the turn around point was, that meant it would have taken about that much time to get home. I don’t know how close they were to Disneyland. I would have drove 4 hours back in the home direction, invested a little more money in a budget motel for the night, then when we woke see if they had learned anything and apologized, if they did we would continue on with the very stern and real degree if they repeated the act the trip was definitely off no matter what they did, all money aside.

The second thing I would have done in the least would be to go there and not let them leave the hotel room. To let them get in sniffing distance of Disneyland but not let them go. I or my wife would then go get them a keychain as a souvenir to remind them of the trip they could have had but blew.

That is what I would have done. I am there to be the parent not some cool older friend, the mansion is mine and they will just have to suck it up and live by those rules until they can afford their own mansion.

janbb's avatar

(And another argument I’m not even going to attempt.)

cookieman's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central: I really like your first solution.

The second one seems a little cruel.

josie's avatar

It’s normal for kids to fight and complain during a boring car trip.
Why punish normality?
A good parent will figure out a way to keep them entertained.

mrrich724's avatar

I think the bottom line is this. The dad said there would be well defined consequences for the kids’ actions.

If he didn’t follow up on that, the children would learn that they don’t have to listen to what dad says, because he won’t go through with it.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I wouldn’t ever use that as a potential punishment recognizing how much we have invested.

janbb's avatar

Exactly – it was a poor choice to begin with.

wundayatta's avatar

Seems like failed parenting to me. I would never let my kids get to a point where I would lose my mind. I certainly never would have offered a threat like that. My parents often threated to put us out of the car when we were bickering in the back seat.

But it’s such small stuff. Why flip out about that? Just tune it out. They’re bored and they like a little fight to keep them occupied. As long as no eyes a poked out and no bones are broken, I say let them have at it.

Then again, why not invest in a DVD player and a few movies? If you can afford Disney, surely you can afford that!

But I think that guy is an idiot. He deserves to lose $5000.

KatawaGrey's avatar

@wundayatta: My mother has told me about a game my grandfather would make her and her sisters play in the back of the car called “flatten, tips, relax.” When they saw a car, they would put their hands palm up on the roof of the car. When another passed, they would move from the palm to the finger tips. When a third car passed, they would put their arms down. They would do this with every car and it wore the kids out.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@mrrich724 From one lesson? Even if he regularly follows through with threats, and follows through on future threats? Even if they did learn to not listen (which, it sounds like such an outrageous threat in the first place that they probably figured he was just full of it – how many times do we all say “If you don’t blank, I’m going to kill you” and then fail to kill them?), could he not have gotten them back in line at some future point? Parenting is made up of many small battles; treating each and every one like a major battle will just wear you out prematurely.

YARNLADY's avatar

Here’s what I have done:
1. When the kids (three growing boys) get out of hand, I pull off the freeway, measure out one mile on the speedometer, and have a race. Let’s see who can get back to the car first, over one mile. They run, I drive and all three pile back into the car refreshed and exhausted. Sleepy time is not far behind.

We have 600 miles to go. I drive until they or I get tired (about 200 miles) then I find a motel with a swimming pool and we check in for the night. I have already planned on spending at least two nights on the road, and two nights in a motel.

@marinelife An unendurable drive is not a vacation to the children involved.

tedd's avatar

It was wise of him to follow through with his punishment as he had warned. Not doing this is bad parenting because your kids stop listening to your threats.

But threatening THAT as punishment was probably a stupid idea.

klutzaroo's avatar

The only lesson these kids learned is that their father doesn’t know how to parent. Hopefully they’ll take that lesson in a number of years and do better with their own kids. It was stupid to say, it was stupid to not give the kids a break, it was entirely stupid on the part of the father and a parenting failure. Not to mention a failure in logic when all the money lost is considered. The whole situation is ridiculous, mostly because most of us know that there are a thousand ways to deal with this in a more mature and reasonable way on the part of the parent.

There are 997 ways to deal with it that don’t deal with physical violence which only teaches the “lesson” that violence is the answer to problems. Spankings and so on are only effective when they’re not done in anger and when the children know exactly what they did to deserve them, most adults aren’t capable of letting go of what they’re feeling to deliver a spanking and the accompanying lesson which is why so many people are against it entirely. We can go on and on about what the parent should have done, but I think that we can all (well, most everyone and those who can’t are perhaps as ridiculous parents as this guy) agree that this was pretty much the stupidest way to handle this situation.

@john65pennington Your ideas about parenting are positively medieval. And no, that is nowhere near a compliment.

MissAusten's avatar

It’s shocking that someone with such solid parenting skills would have children that fight in the car! ~

It’s great that the dad followed through, but he punished himself as much as the kids. I know that if we had planned such a vacation and scrapped it at the last minute, the wasted money and time would be sorely missed. The dad was stupid, plain and simple. As others have said, there are so, so, so many better ways to handle the situation without wasting the vacation money.

Again, as others have pointed out, a parent who expects siblings to be pleasant and quiet when trapped in a back seat for 12 hours is delusional unless the children are past a certain age. Did this man not know his own children well enough to plan the trip in a way that would be tolerable for the entire family? That’s his own damn fault, and it ended with him cutting off his own nose to spite his face.

We drove from CT to SC last year (about 16 hours total). It was me, my mother in law, and my two little boys age 5 and 6. We actually had fun because we planned for the kids to be bored and restless. You just have to bring lots of snacks, quiet toys, books, kid music, art supplies, more snacks, and maybe some games or movies. Although, I was surprised at how little time the kids spent watching movies or playing games. Whenever we stopped for food or a bathroom break, I’d take the boys to an uncrowded area and play a quick but active game of Simon Says or Follow The Leader so they could move around and blow off steam. They had their moments when they’d start to bug each other or complain, but that’s when the adults need to step in and provide a diversion or get the kids interested in something else. It’s really not rocket science, just common sense.

mrrich724's avatar

@MyNewtBoobs then he shouldn’t have used it as a threat. And my parents never said “I’m going to kill you” . . . I don’t think any parent should say that. So they shouldn’t have to worry about following through with it!

If the parent is so worried about being a good parent and teaching a lesson, then they shouldn’t make the empty threat to begin with, they should have just invested a little more thought and care into what consequences they laid down, realistic consequences that would teach a lesson and would be realistic in following through with!

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