Pawn Shop Parenting

Growing up I had many jobs, one of my more interesting jobs was working at a pawn shop during college. Back then, at the age of 21, I had no idea how much the job of pawnbroker would prepare me for the job of parenting.


One thing the pawn shop taught me was how to spot a liar. A liar will tell you their item works perfectly while pieces of it are literally falling off as they speak. A child will tell you they aren’t responsible for the green footprints on the floor even though they just so happen to have green paint all over their hands…and cheeks…and feet. Pawn customers will swear the mini fridge they’re trying to sell belongs to them, even though it has the words “Rent-A-Center” written in marker on every side. A child will promise he didn’t sneak a bite of cake even though there’s icing on his nose and chin.


Working at a pawnshop also taught me how to give lowball offers. For example, I would offer a customer $15 for a TV worth $60. In the same way, I would tell my kids if they pick up 175 pine cones from our yard, I’ll give them $1.75. This experience in giving lowball offers led to the skill I learned to use the most in parenting – negotiation.


Before becoming a parent, I had no idea how much of my day I’d spend in the art of negotiation. How much dinner has to be eaten, when bedtime is, whether to buy gum at the store, time allowed on iPads at home, how long friends can stay over… it all involves negotiation.


Who knew the good old pawn shop would prepare me for the world of parenting the way it did. I guess all those weekend shifts wearing my denim shirt and tie eventually paid off.


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