G’morning; come on in. There’s fresh-brewed Cameron’s Jamaican Blend right there. Help yourself and have a seat. That’s Vince Ingala on sax in the background. Relax a bit with me; I’ve something to run past you.
I recently read again parenting is the last refuge of the rank amateur. Anyone with two or more little ones will vigorously nod. A friend passed something along I feel needs broader reach and I’m including it here.
This was both helpful and challenging. Parenting at the best of times is hard. Especially considering all the butting in from every possible direction over 2020 – 2021 trying to yell in your ears how to raise your children – or just let them do it – parenting is a real challenge.
It seems some days every interaction with your kids turns into a fight. Wise parents soon learn they have to choose their battles. Here are 8 fights worth picking with your kids
8 Fights You Need To Pick And Win With Your Kids
The Reading Fight: Make your kids read. Reading is tied to everything from cognitive development to the ability to focus. Spend any time around a friend who says, “Oh, I’m not a reader.” Observe them. Listen to the level of their conversations and interests. Make sure your little ones see you reading, and often. Make your kids read now, so they’ll want to read later.
The Outside Fight: Make your kids go outside. The natural world teaches us things. Plus, outside there’s sunshine, fresh air, and exercise waiting for them. Take them for neighborhood walks, and to local parks. Do things outside with them. Have them ‘help’ you with outside yardwork, learning by watching and mimicking you. Most importantly, help your kids learn at an early age nature is full of things in short supply in our world: Discovery, wonder, peace, and joy.
The Work Fight: Make your kids work. Make your kids WORK. I’m saddened by how many parents don’t require their kids to lift a finger at home. There are priceless life principles you can only learn with a cleaning rag, a mop, a shovel, or a lawnmower in your hand. Let sweat be their teacher. Of course they’ll balk. No kid wants to do chores, even the ones wanting to please and suck up to you. Again, let them see you doing it, and make it clear: you’re showing them how so they can help. Keep chores age-appropriate, but never, EVER let your kids lay around being electronically-babysat. Always come up with helpful, wholesome ways to reward them for a good job – but only things each child loves, and only if they earn it.
The Meal Fight: Make your kids eat with you as a family. Yes, it’s a discipline, which means you have to do it with them. Our lives are a blur of incessant activity. Meals together are a physical pause to recover a truth so easily sacrificed at the altar of busyness – and, trust me, your busyness, no matter the reason, will ring hollow for both you and your kids once they’re up and gone. Nothing’s more important than family.
The Boredom Fight: Make your kids live with boredom. Don’t show a DVD on each car ride. Kids need unscheduled time. And, odd as it sounds, boredom is a skill. It’s hard as a parent to deal with the assault of boredom complaints. But if you give in and fill up their time with external stimuli, you’ll raise an activity addict. Make them learn more than constant doing; make them learn how to be. This can be addressed along with The Outside Fight.
The “Me First” Fight: Make your kids learn to go last. No – not every time for everything. But teach that lesson enough for them to remember the world doesn’t revolve around them. Again, model this in front of your kids. Take the smallest piece. Give up the remote. Do someone else’s chores, taking the one they hate the most. They won’t like it, but this is a lesson in respect they’ll need throughout life.
The Awkward Conversation Fight: Make your kids have uncomfortable conversations with you. Sex, dating, body image, moral, social, and spiritual values…Your kids will roll their eyes and resist. You will stumble and stutter. That’s normal. Your kids need and want your perspective, the lessons you’ve learned, and wisdom that came through those lessons – good and not so good. Rule of thumb: if your child is capable of asking an intelligent question, they deserve a reasonable, age-and-experience-appropriate answer.
The Limitation Fight: Make your kids learn to set boundaries. Learning to live within limits is a valuable life skill. In fact, many adult problems arise from an inability to accept them. Screen-time limits, dietary limits, activity limits, and schedule limits are all good. Once again, the best way to teach your sons and daughters how to set limits – boundaries – and live by them is for them to observe you doing it. It’s also a great idea to explain why you’ve set those boundaries for yourself, and how they are helping you. Remember: these are lessons for a lifetime.
As a parent, you have to pick your battles – and the sooner you start, the better the outcome. The pros say begin between your kids’ ages of 2-3.
As a parent, you do have to pick your battles. They’re not easy and you must be in it for the long haul, but they’re worth the fight. After all, your kids will one day be frightfully like you.
Give ’em a fighting chance.
© Copyright D. Dean Boone, April 2022