Parenting Advice for Democrats: How to Handle the Republican Tantrum

What Women Really Think
Oct. 4 2013 1:35 PM

Parenting Advice for Democrats: How to Handle the Republican Temper Tantrum

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)
If Democrats give in now, he'll just be emboldened to go on TV more, and everyone loses.

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

It is now Day Four of the federal government shutdown, and with the shifting rationales, histrionics, and likelihood of future misbehavior, it has become quite clear that, as with the shutdown in 1995, this is a straight-up Republican temper tantrum. And who knows better how to handle a temper tantrum than the parenting experts? As Parenting explains, tantrum-throwers "think they're the center of the universe," and tantrums often occur because "sharing is so difficult." Sounds like the Republicans we know who are shutting down the government rather than include more people in our health care system!

Amanda Marcotte Amanda Marcotte

Amanda Marcotte is a Brooklyn-based writer and DoubleX contributor. She also writes regularly for the Daily Beast, AlterNet, and USA Today. Follow her on Twitter.

So what kind of advice can Obama and the Senate Democrats take from the parenting experts on how to defuse a tantrum that's underway? This list from WikiHow has some useful tips.


Remain calm enough to handle the tantrum properly. Luckily for the Democrats, they have "No Drama Obama" leading the way. This matters a lot, because as WikiHow points out, throwing a tantrum in the face of a tantrum can only cause things to escalate.

Remember that your child's tantrum is NOT necessarily a way to "get his way" but could be the result of frustration, lack of needed attention from you, or even a physical problem, like low blood sugar, pain or digestive problems! We're quite sure Republicans are getting enough naps, but this is nonetheless good advice. While there are "true believers" on the Hill, plenty of Republicans are less worried about getting their way on health care than they are afraid of Tea Party radicals trying to remove them from power. Not the Democrats' problem to fix, but something to keep in mind during negotiations. Providing a few healthy snacks couldn't hurt either. 

Do not reward the tantrum. As WikiHow explains, "If you allow yourself to be held hostage by tantrums, your child will continue to use them long past the age when they would otherwise cease." Giving into this Republican tantrum means they will continue to look for every opportunity to hold the government or the economy hostage to extract further demands. As any parent knows, no matter how tempting it is to give them what they want to shut them up, you'll just be paying for it down the line.

Explain to the child that you will talk to him or her when he or she calms down. Let Eric Cantor tweet as many petulant pictures as he wants of himself and his fellow tantrum-throwers demanding attention, but let it be known there will be no discourse until the tantrum is over and a reasonable federal budget is passed.

Avoid trying to reason with any child who is in the middle of a full-blown tantrum, especially in a public place. There will be many attempts by cable news to get Democrats to try to plead their case and reason with Republicans on-air. But you cannot reason with unreasonable people, whether they be dyspeptic toddlers or publicly elected grown-ups. Instead, WikiHow suggests expressing empathy for their feelings with phrases like, "You must feel frustrated that you can't have what you want right now." 

Discuss the behavior with your child once the tantrum has ended. While Democrats have no need to make sure Republicans feel "you love him or her regardless," this advice could still help Democrats post-shutdown. "Explain that the behavior is unacceptable," perhaps, and then make it clear that you will be willing to work with Republicans going forward "regardless." This will frame the tantrum as an isolated behavior and reduce its likelihood of happening again. If only.



More Than Scottish Pride

Scotland’s referendum isn’t about nationalism. It’s about a system that failed, and a new generation looking to take a chance on itself. 

What Charles Barkley Gets Wrong About Corporal Punishment and Black Culture

Why Greenland’s “Dark Snow” Should Worry You

Three Talented Actresses in Three Terrible New Shows

Why Do Some People See the Virgin Mary in Grilled Cheese?

The science that explains the human need to find meaning in coincidences.


Happy Constitution Day!

Too bad it’s almost certainly unconstitutional.

Is It Worth Paying Full Price for the iPhone 6 to Keep Your Unlimited Data Plan? We Crunch the Numbers.

What to Do if You Literally Get a Bug in Your Ear

  News & Politics
Sept. 16 2014 7:03 PM Kansas Secretary of State Loses Battle to Protect Senator From Tough Race
Sept. 16 2014 4:16 PM The iPhone 6 Marks a Fresh Chance for Wireless Carriers to Kill Your Unlimited Data
The Eye
Sept. 16 2014 12:20 PM These Outdoor Cat Shelters Have More Style Than the Average Home
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 15 2014 3:31 PM My Year As an Abortion Doula
  Slate Plus
Slate Plus Video
Sept. 16 2014 2:06 PM A Farewell From Emily Bazelon The former senior editor talks about her very first Slate pitch and says goodbye to the magazine.
Brow Beat
Sept. 16 2014 8:43 PM This 17-Minute Tribute to David Fincher Is the Perfect Preparation for Gone Girl
Future Tense
Sept. 16 2014 6:40 PM This iPhone 6 Feature Will Change Weather Forecasting
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 17 2014 7:30 AM Ring Around the Rainbow
Sports Nut
Sept. 15 2014 9:05 PM Giving Up on Goodell How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.