Thanks for the Advice


Once you have children, you’ll be surprised to find that many people you know and interact with are secretly child development experts. Who woulda thunk it? Advice and ‘wisdom’ will come pouring in like rain on a leaky roof, and will usually be just about as welcome.

Gems of knowledge may come from the relatives, who love to recount, in front of your children of course, all of your childhood misdeeds and how they were handled; which is fuel for your child’s misbehaving fire- Mommy and Daddy were ‘naughty’ too. J

Some advice, I’ll admit can be helpful, but much of it is not.  Sometimes it seems as if people are just throwing out random ideas and letting you and your children be the guinea pigs. For example, 2 of my 4 sons have birthdays 2 weeks apart.  I do not have combined celebrations or even cakes.  Each has their own day.  True for the other 2 as well, whose birthdays are stand alone on the family calendar.  But grandparents, who decided to make one trip for both of the 2 birthday boys thought one of the other 2 would feel ‘left out.’  Left out?  He has a birthday.  This just doesn’t happen to be it. So, you probably guessed it, they came with gifts for the birthday boys and the ‘not your birthday’ boy.  Result?  2 unhappy birthday boys and 1 unbirthday boy with new and unreal expectations.  Thanks.

How about the subject of grounding?  Since my boys are in sports, that is always my lever for a less than adequate performance in school or at home with chores.  I had that situation with my 16-year old doing something I had emphatically told him not to (imagine that for a teenage boy) His consequence was to miss softball.  When I informed the coach, a father of 6, he told me that sports are a way for a young man to ‘blow off steam’ and it helps with their behavior.  At that moment, I was the one with steam to blow off and it was going to be done watching my son at the working end of a rake.  I found out later that the coach had not played a significant role in his 6 children’s upbringing. Surprise, surprise.  If he had, he’d of seen the value of the rake versus the ball game.  A disciplined child AND a clean yard!

My approach has been refined, after much battlefield experience.  I have Mom logic.  If you’re too tired to do what I ask, you are too tired to do all the other stuff you were planning.  If you say that I ‘never’ let you do a particular thing, I will make it so.  You will NEVER do that thing. If I give you something to do and you think it is a paying job, I’ll agree and have you pay your brother to do what was assigned to you. (This is where having more than one child is helpful)  Using the mathematics of time, if ½ hour of work time is wasted on TV, iPod or just plain nothing, ½ hour comes out of other more ‘enjoyable’ activities or time with friends. It’s all about the math.  If you forget to do something, such as pick up clothes or put something away, then I have been remiss in your training.  We will practice…repeatedly….annoyingly.  Accept that each child is unique. Love them, communicate to get to know them well, and you will find your way in the area of effective discipline. That’s my advice.

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