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Parent / Child Relationships

I have been asked on several occasions to expand upon some of the reflections made at our annual Coffees with the Heads as it relates to child development and parenting. As parents, we wield a significant amount of power and influence with our children. Being a good parent is not easy. Our children do not arrive on the scene with training manuals to hand us. Nevertheless, there are seven directives for parents – I used them myself – that may provide some guidance in helping chart the sometimes murky and chartless waters of child rearing. I’ll share three today.

  • Make only promises you can keep…

Share plans with your children only when you are certain you can fulfill them. A promise is anything you say you’ll do or might do – it doesn’t have to start with the words “I promise.”

In this way you will never argue or feel guilty about not keeping a “promise”. We feel guilty enough as parents – no need to add weight.

  • Be direct – sometimes children do not need a choice…

Tell your children what you want them to do.  For example:

“Please take out the garbage.”

“Time to get ready for bed.”

“Pick up your room, now.”

Leave no room for arguing. There may be pushback, but not as strong as when we give them unacceptable choices. Above all, don’t repeat yourself more than once. See prior blogs for consequences if the pushback is intolerable.

  • Avoid argument…

I really hit on this. Discuss things with your kids, reason with them, engage them in dialogue, listen to their point of view, but do not argue with them – it’s a waste of time and energy. State your case, listen to their side of the story, reconsider your position if necessary, make your decision, and end it. It’s okay to give in a little. It’s easy to lose a ground battle when you stay focused on winning the war! If they try to argue – please, please – walk away. If they follow you, restate your position, and walk away, again. Don’t hesitate to physically remove yourself. (Go to the bathroom, bedroom, or garage and close the door if necessary.) When you consistently show that you’re committed to the decisions you make, your kids will eventually realize verbal harassment doesn’t work. Do you really want to get into prolonged negotiations with a 6 or 13 year old? Once you enter that fray the power is all theirs!

I actually chuckle to myself when parents say, “He argues so much, he’ll be a great attorney someday.” Maybe so, but right now he’s an insufferable brat!

Raymond J. Volker


Posted by Headmistress Pamela Volker on Thursday March, 5, 2015

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