In today's busy world, it's not uncommon to see people trying to get a leg up by doing things half-ass. But much too often, parents that come through my door are cutting corners in all the wrong places. With many family's running full steam as dual-income households, a parent's patience and energy are stretched thin. Coming home from work for a parent is NOT the end of the work needed for the day. There's still dinner to cook, chores and homework to ensure are done, sibling squabbles to defuse. Today's parents are constantly telling me they wish they could spend more time with their children, but end up way too tired and too stretched thin to do so. Yet, though there may be a night or two during the week where it might be ok (depending on the needs of the child(ren) to have an "every man for himself" evening of chaos and running around, it's not ok for parents to allow fatigue to take away from quality time with their family. Somehow, a parent needs to find the energy, even if it's only for 15 minutes, to spend that intense, one-on-one, "I'm here for you" time with EACH child. Sometimes, that means cutting everything off and leaving the house to go, say, sit on the porch and talk. Maybe it's taking a quick walk together. Whatever it is, parents have a tendency to feel that as long as they are physically present, their kids will be fine. Instead, it's the kind of time you spend with your children that matters most. Another common corner that gets cut as parents try to manage their stress levels is giving in when their child is really being argumentative. This happens whether the child is 6 or 16. You may be thinking to yourself, "I'm not giving in. I'm picking my battles." And to that I'd say yes, as a parent, you can't throw down for every single situation where you and your child butt heads. If you ask your child to cut off the tv and it's 10 minutes later and they're still glued to the set, it might be ok for a gentle push or "reminder" a few times before you finally walk over and shut it off yourself. However, if your child consistently pushes that boundary, it's probably time to be more firm. Trust me. We all get that putting a line in the sand is hard sometimes. And it can often feel like the aftermath of your child's storm isn't worth the effort. But if you keep allowing a child to push the limitations of rules and boundaries, he/she will never learn to respect that they can't always get their way. And that lesson won't just affect your home but will affect the rules and boundaries that are handed down from other sources, such as from college or career, ultimately risking much bigger, more permanent failures.
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