Gamer Parents – Bargaining

Calvin and Hobbes tantrum
Calvin and Hobbes tantrum

At some point in childhood there comes a toy or electronic that we must have. The problem is a holiday or birthday or other gift giving event is nowhere near by. Sure we had things like allowance and little jobs here and there, but that was not even close to what the item cost. So what did we do? Today many kids would just tantrum their way to the gift or play one parent against the other or something just as unseemly. It happened in the past to, but for many of us we turned to the age old practice of bargaining.

The art of bargaining has been passed down through many forms, sometimes our siblings teach us what to do and sometimes we see our parents bargaining and copy them. Most of the time a child will bargain after trying the “please” barrage several times just enough to annoy the parent, but not enough to be punished for it. Most of the time the child has also tried asking grandparents and other relatives for said item before the bargaining begins. Once a number of alternatives have been tried it’s time to contemplate how you are going to bargain with your parent or parents.

The Planning Stage

The kids that are best at parental bargaining are the ones who think out what they are going to give up before they run in. The last thing you want to do is give away to much or agree to something that will come back to bite you. Like giving a speech you have to say out loud what you are going to tell you mom or your dad to make sure it sounds right, at least to you. The fact is, if you are smart, you know anything you say is going to sound like nonsense to your parent, the key is that you tried and you hope to score points for that.

The Setup

I always scouted the area before going in with my proposal. See I wanted to make sure my sister would not come in and ruin everything. Siblings can kill a bargaining session even if they will share in whatever you are bargaining for. If they are not sharing in it chances are they will sabotage you so making sure they weren’t around was paramount. You also wanted little to no distractions so the idea was to catch them at a relaxing moment. Never bargaining with a busy parent was a top ten rule and a parent on the way in or out was also a no no. Controlling the room was one of the most important parts of bargaining. Once you had your stage it was just you and your parental unit, show-time.


The financing bargain was one of the most commonly used techniques. It was pretty simple; you would give up a percentage of your allowance to go toward the item. So if you wanted a hundred dollar game system and your weekly allowance was five, you would agree to give a buck or two per week. Sometimes a rookie would make the mistake of forgoing their allowance until the debt was paid, but this was clearly a mistake because it could possibly mean months without an allowance. What was good about this strategy was it had a high success rate because you were using your own money (in a sense) for something you wanted. It showed maturity and was hard to say no to.

The Combo Deal

I personally was not a fan of the combo deal, but it is the most widely used bargaining technique. How it works is you would combine birthdays, Christmas’s and other give giving events into one so you could get the gift you wanted.

“Mom, if you buy me the Super Nintendo it can count as my birthday gift and my Christmas gift in one!”

The problem with this is the fact that often kids give away too much. It is entirely possible that you could receive said item for a birthday gift and now you gave away your Christmas gift as well. Now granted, most parents are not going to leave their child present-less on Christmas, but still, that’s just a bad negotiation. Now if we could prove the child knew he or she could make such a deal knowing full well come Christmas and/or their birthday they would get a gift regardless then I would call this the best strategy ever.

Goods for Services

The old tried and true, this method trades more work for whatever you are bargaining for, but it has its issues. First, most kids don’t know what their labor is worth. Is raking leaves for six months worth that Double Dragon game? Second, if you end up disappointing your parents by not doing said work it can kill any change for successful future bargaining. Now if you can agree to something really simple then so be it, but we are talking children here. I recommend not using this one unless you know for certain this is the only strategy that will work.

Gift for Grades

This is the worst because if you fail to make the grade you are in a world of trouble on many fronts. Also, many times the parental unit will only give the item once the grades come in which kills your timetable. Even if you do get the grade then you will automatically be expected to keep it up even now that there is no bargain or agreement on the table. Finally, you should be trying your best anyway. (That last one was for you mom)

Whatever system you use you need to keep calm, keep quiet, keep cool and keep coherent. The last thing you want to do is sound like you are yelling or getting worked up and for goodness sakes practice what you are going to say. There are no Teleprompters.

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J.A. Laraque

J.A. Laraque is a freelance writer and novelist. His passion for writing mixed with a comedic style and intelligent commentary has brought him success in his various endeavors. Whatever the subject, J.A. has an opinion on it and will present it in writing with an insight and flair that is both refreshing and informative.

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