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How to Machiavelli Your Kids

Updated on April 7, 2013

We have all heard the word "Machiavelli" in some sense and we all sort of know it deals with deception, half truths, cunning and duplicity in politics and in life. But for most, that is about as far as it goes.

Niccolo Machiavelli wrote the iconic book, The Prince, hundreds of years ago during his own personal crisis after being fired in Florence, Italy, as a high ranking diplomat. His arrest and detention in an alleged role in murdering Cardinal Medici to seize the government. Of course, it was not true or no evidence was found, so he was released. He wrote the book as a primer on politics hoping to gain favor again with the Medicis and a new government job. He saw power as a tool for obtaining safety and stability of a state and to show how princes might ensure kingdom happiness.

Would and could the Machiavelli dogma be applied to home and kids?

Is being too liberal and generous create loyalty? Machiavelli did not think so. He thought any loyalty can be won and lost. The more things you give in to with your kids, the more ungrateful they are and the more they expect. So, limit your generosity as a parent, especially when shopping. Give them a fixed sum of money to spend and that is it. They will learn the value of money.

Then there is the infamous, "divide and conquer" when you have at least two or more. Kids are masters of pitting one parent against the other, so turn the tables. It is okay to award one child while giving no award to the other for bad performance or behavior. It is a motivator.

We know all about the rule, "never tell a lie", but Machiavelli would disagree if it somehow benefits the liar. Parents are always fibbing (tiny harmless lies) so they do not feel guilty. In one case, maybe the weekend comes and the parents want and need some down-no-kids times. To avoid hurting their feelings and their pleas to come, parents often cite that the going away is "a business trip". The weekend comes and goes and the parents get home relaxed and happy. The kids will benefit from these parents more than from frustrated ones.

It was likely that Machiavelli's home was all about him maintaining power and with firm law through scheming or being manipulative. I guess, whatever works, right?


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    • perrya profile image

      perrya 4 years ago

      Thanks, as a much tested parent, it is easier read and said than done. Trial and error because over time, they change, they learn, you change you learn. It never ends.

    • jpcmc profile image

      JP Carlos 4 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines

      Such a fascinating read. I'm a new dad and I know the difficulties when it comes to discipline. And my child is just 2 years old. LOL As a parent, we need to learn how to manage and discipline our kids properly.