Yesterday I preached about parenting. I shared this piece I got from Best Life magazine. It was in an article about reducing stress in man’s life. While not exactly known for deep, spiritual insight, I thought they got it right this time.
Dads, listen up, there are a few good tips here.
Stop explaining: If your kids ask you about the interaction between electromagnetism and gravity, by all means take a whack at teaching them physics. But do not, under any circumstances, explain to a 4-year-old why it’s important that he stop dancing on the dining room table. If he asks, just grab him by the arm in a way that will help him understand. Few things are more stressful than trying to persuade somebody who’s three feet tall that you know better than he does. You have authority because you are his father, not because you have more compelling debating points. Taking charge is much less stressful not only for you but for your kids too. They actually like having a gravitational center around which to find an orbit.
Pick the Cereal! Don’t ask your kids which of the 97 cereals – or any other consumer item they want. Buy a cereal. Feed it to them. If they don’t eat it, buy a different one, and so on until you get one they’ll eat. If you allow kids into every purchasing decision, you will slowly go insane.
Don’t make discipline an either-or choice: Lots of parents make the whole deal more stressful than it has to be by making good behavior a choice for kids. As in, “If you don’t clean up your room, we’re not going to the movies.” Then the child has to do a mental cost-benefit analysis, weighing the work of room cleaning versus the fun of seeing Chicken Little. Wrong. There is no “if you don’t.” He’s cleaning up his room. Period. End of sentence. This is not a multiple choice test.
A father (and mother) should love the children with everything they’ve got, but they should not be bringing third graders into the family brain trust.