Happy Halloween to everyone! Here’s to crazy expensive costumes they’ll only wear once and stomachaches and cavities from too much sugar!!
So this week, I’ve been thinking a lot about the power of persuasion and how I motivate our boys to take advantage of opportunities that are presented to them. I always thought that I try to lead by example- both at work with my employees as well as at home. “Never ask anyone to do anything I wouldn’t be willing to do myself” has always been my mantra. And I’ve always believed that it is preferred to “convince” or help them understand the merits of doing something as opposed to commanding down on high.
But I find as the older the boys get (or the older I get, maybe) the more my parenting style has switched to “because I said so.” I used to sit down with our 10 year old and say “here is what I want you to do and here is why” and sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn’t. And then I began the “guilt trip”, whereby I let him know how disappointed I was that he made the choice to do (or not do something). That worked but then I realized what a precedent that set. I was teaching him to please me, not to do what he considered the right thing.
Which leads me to now. The whole idea of chores is to teach shared responsibility while making sure that mom and dad aren’t spending every waking moment picking up and cleaning the house. When they don’t get done, how do you reinforce their importance?
We give allowance to each of the boys each week based on their age ($1 per year) predicated on the fact that they will do their chores (preferably, but rarely) without being asked. When they don’t get done, we spend so much time. I know we all take pride in our home. But it’s like herding cats to get them to accomplish what is expected.
We also like to do things as a family as much as possible. So last night, we took a trip out to see the home town team playing in the high school football playoffs. Two didn’t want to go (it was too cold, I’d rather stay home, etc.) But we made them all go. We did dinner and then cheered the team on to victory. Well, the wife and I did. The boys did everything else, including but not limited to, run around the stadium with friends, crawl underneath the bleachers, complain about the cold, fight over who sits next to whom. If you’re a parent, you know the drill.
Suddenly, it felt like work. Breaking up arguments, shushing the whining, and layering blankets on the frozen children. Sure, I could have left those that wanted to at home, but this was a FAMILY OUTING…and by God, we were going to enjoy each other’s company even if it killed us! lol
Am I unreasonable? Unrealistic? Is the fight worth it? Sometimes, just getting everyone loaded in the car can be our greatest victory! How do you do it? When do you give up/in? Does it all pay off? Will they look back someday, as I hope, and be glad we made them do these things. Understand the importance of hard work? Please tell me yes…and if not, I give you permission to lie to me 🙂