Gary's blog for couples and parents plus resources for individuals, leaders and churches.

Friday, September 14, 2012

A Powerful Oxymoron For Every Parent.

You know what an oxymoron is, right? It's two words put together that are actually opposites. For example, jumbo shrimp or pretty ugly or living dead. Well, there is one I've coined over the years that has significant implications for parenting.

The oxymoron is firm nonchalance.  Let me explain. Every wise parent needs to set fair, clear boundaries for their children. If bedtime is 9 then we ought to hold to that other than some special exceptions. If you ask kids to do a chore you ought to follow through and see that it's done. If you expect a child to do his or her homework before playing you need to make sure that happens.

That's the firm part.

The problem is that too many parents try to enforce or reinforce the firmness with anger or the loud sound of their voice. Ryan, haven't I told you five times now to pick up your toys!  Carissa, don't make me come in there and drag you out of the room!  Why won't you do what I say when I ask you to?

This is where the nonchalance comes in. At the first request for Ryan to pick up his toys, the wise parent says, Ryan, did you hear me? Look at me. You need to pick those toys up now. Ryan responds, But mom, I just need to finish this section of the Legos.

Wise parent calmly but firmly replies, Ryan, I need you to do that now. Ryan: Mom, that's just not fair. You're so mean. Wise mom: I guess I am tonight. Sorry but you still need to pick up your toys.

You keep the boundaries but leave the extra emotion to the side.

Now I realize this isn't a perfect system but trust me, staying cool, but firm, accomplishes way more than going ballistic.  If your kids know there is a point where you'll blow a gourd anyway they will learn to wait for that moment because that's when they know you are serious.

Don't give them that option. Let them know you can keep your cool but you mean it.
Gary Sinclair Writer | Speaker | Leader

Gary is currently a consultant, teacher, speaker and chaplain providing resources for families, leaders and churches.

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