The other day I caught myself giving a lengthy speech about the importance of kids doing their chores and respecting their parents. Unfortunately, the speech was not to a group of people at a Love and Logic event. It was to my seven-year-old son in response to his eye-rolling and huffing about having to clean up after the dog.
I used to be a parenting expert. That is…until I had kids.
Phil, a recent business school graduate, got his dream job. He did so well that he was invited to a retreat with the big shots of the company. Not only did he get to attend, but he also had a chance to rub elbows with the top man, the CEO of the company.
Almost jittery, he approached his idol, “Sir, I was told that I could ask you a question, and what I want to ask is what does it take to become as successful as you are?”
“Well, young man. Success like mine takes a whole series of good decisions.”
“Oh, sir, I’m sure that’s true, but what does it take to make those good decisions?”
“Well, here’s the hard part, son,” the older man responded with pride. “It takes wisdom.”
“Oh, thank you, sir. But that creates a burning question for me. How do you acquire such wisdom?”
“Bad decisions, son. It takes a whole lot of bad decisions. Wisdom comes from learning from your mistakes.” Continue reading Gaining Wisdom and Resilience→
To get a handle on what successful step-parents do, it’s helpful to first get a glimpse at what less successful ones try. I call the first well-intentioned yet doomed approach the “Wrecking Ball” step-parenting style. These folks take on the role of demolition expert in the family. They storm in with a crash, trying to rebuild every aspect of the kids’ behavior. Like drill sergeants, their favorite tools include lectures, threats, lots of new rules and plenty of micro-managing.
I call the second well-intentioned yet ineffective approach the “Refugee” step-parent style. Because they don’t want to step on any toes, these folks never really live in the home. Instead, they set up camp in the backyard. Peeking out of their tent screen, they watch the kids throw their daily refuse onto the lawn in front of them. Because they don’t want to insult the kids by trying to replace their “real” parent, these step-parents use no tools. They simply walk on eggshells, adopting an outsider, doormat role.
Successful step-parents obsessively follow the first rule of Love and Logic:
Take great care of yourself by setting limits without anger, lectures, threats, or repeated warnings.
Instead of trying to reconstruct through strict discipline…or walk on eggshells by remaining an outsider, they use Enforceable Statements to assertively describe how they will operate. Examples include:
I’ll listen when your voice is calm.
I’ll be happy to do the extra things I do for you when I feel respected.
I’ll get that for you when I see that you’ve finished your chores.
I argue at six o’clock on Saturday mornings.
I’ll let you know about that after I talk with your dad (or mom).
I’m fine with you having that as long as you have the money to pay for it.
Six-year-old Paul was at the family reunion when he asked his uncle if he could see the moths in his billfold.
“What do you mean?” asked Uncle Fred.
“My dad told my mom that you were so tight that if you ever opened your billfold, moths would fly out, and I want to watch,” replied Paul.
We all know where Paul picked this up. Kids remember all the things they hear through eavesdropping, while they often don’t listen well to the things they are told directly.
Unfortunately, Paul has another problem. He has overheard his parents criticizing his teachers and the school. That could be the reason he believes that his bad grades are not the result of laziness, but because he doesn’t have to do what the stupid teacher says.
Regardless of how we feel about the school or the teacher, it is real bad business to say it where our kids can overhear it. Better we send a consistent message that achievement comes through hard work and listening to the teachers.