It was probably something which I tried not to use and this lovely read spelled the reasons why.
I had used a mix of incentives, disincentives and pep talks with the kids throughout their growing up years. With time, I also developed my parenting skills, alongside with people management skills. Two years’ ago, I attended a training which prescribed reasons why we should avoid using the “carrot” approach, simply because the mules would not move without incentives eventually. It was also then as a middle manager that I realized I was always preoccupied with incentives instead of appealing to a person’s inner motivation to do well.
That was why I never rewarded Z for coming home with perfect scores for spellings and tests. He received little rewards from his gramps but always wondered why his own parents did not prepare gifts.
As I had told him long ago, he did not have to do well in academics for us to buy him something. Likewise, if he had done badly, what would he expect from us? How we treated him had very low correlation to what we would buy for him.
Occasionally, he would still ask us if there was a surprise at the end of the road. There were times we told him that there was a surprise and all we gave were hugs. It got to a point where he actually went, “Chey, it’s just a hug.”
Mean parents we were, since it was so hilarious that we nearly laughed out loud.
At the end of the day, love was not measured by the amount of things we bought for him, but by what we could do with him. Our dear boys had yet to appreciate our opportunity costs in spending time with them. Maybe they would never appreciate, but it was something we valued and appreciated for ourselves.