Article at a Glance
• Put family first by setting aside time each week to spend time together.
• Setting up clear family rules with your kids can help you avoid power struggles later.
• Talking to your kids early about things like sex and drugs lets you help develop their initial attitudes about what is right and wrong.
You would think that after thousands of years of parenting, we would have it all figured out. But the truth is that sometimes we all feel like we are stumbling around in the dark. Although parenting will probably never be perfected to a science, there are some guidelines that can help us keep our families on track. And who knows? You might find just the piece of advice you needed to help you through your latest parenting headache.
Make time for family: There is something about our culture that makes us feel like we have to be busy every second. But when we over schedule our days with work, lessons, practices, and after-school programs, we don’t have any time left to enjoy just being together. Our families are the only permanent institution we will ever have, but so often they take a backseat to our jobs or other interests. You can start putting family first by setting one night a week aside just for family. Make it a top priority to keep this night free to spend time together as a family. You can play games, have a lesson, focus on some areas that need improvement in the family, and celebrate with a treat!
Create a sense of ownership: When we give our kids everything they want, they don’t feel like they have to earn anything. This robs them of a sense of ownership and the chance to develop responsibility. Try setting up a family economy where allowances are earned by performing simple, concrete chores around the house. When children contribute to a household, they feel a greater sense of ownership.
The grass is always greener: As parents, sometimes it is hard not to wish that your child was as well-behaved as little Susie down the street. But when we spend our time comparing our kids to others, we forget to look for their own strengths and qualities. Instead, look for what makes your child special and how to help nourish that.
Avoiding power struggles: A good way to avoid power struggles is by setting up clear and simple family rules. Make sure your kids help you create the rules and the resulting punishment. This helps give your kids some ownership over the rules and defuses the “us vs. them” mentality.
Avoiding bad communication habits: It can be easy to develop bad communication habits. Especially when our first response is usually to yell or lecture, and our kids’ first response is to argue or talk back. You can help diffuse the situation by giving everyone a chance to calm down. Kids might need some time to calm down in their room, and you might too! Taking a breather can give everyone time to clear his or her head.
Start early: It is much easier to be on the offensive than the defensive. Talk to your kids early about things like sex, drugs, and drinking. That way you help form their initial attitudes about right and wrong instead of friends and media. Help your kids make decisions in advance so that they aren’t later caught off guard by peer pressure. Most kids make bad decisions on the spur of the moment without ever having really thought about them.
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