…do *LESS* for your kids
You aren’t just raising a child. You are preventing colon cancer. You wake up every morning to pave the road to an Ivy League education.
Face it: before you get out of bed in the morning, you hoist the weight of the world on your shoulders. As a parent, your job is to save the universe.
How do you handle all that pressure?
It’s a lose-lose situation. Get up early to prepare the perfect, organic, gluten-free, Instagram-ready lunch then…
…you open your email to read another article to learn how you are doing it all wrong.
I respect what you are doing. I just have a little suggestion from one parent to another:
Back the fuck off.
Seriously, Simon says to…
… take one giant step backwards.
I am pulling out a post-it and scribbling you a BIG ASS PERMISSION SLIP (hat tip to Amy Smith. Love you, Amy!).
You now have my permission, as a Licensed Psychologist and a parent who has been there…
to. back. the. fuck. off.
What your kids need right now more than parkour lessons or Mandarin immersion is for you to learn how to DO LESS.
Your kids need you to be centered and calm and in control. Let them run around for a change. Press PAUSE on the chasing and the yelling.
Please rise up from the mud puddle and stand tall in the middle of the ring. Stop acting like an alligator-wrangler and be the horse-trainer.
Even if you are (let’s admit it, shall we?) kind of addicted to being a stress-junkie, you have to put down the hot glue gun and tomorrow’s school project. Go ahead, put it down. It’s not helping anyone.
The stress sparks that fly off you are only adding more tension to your kids’ already way-too-stressful little lives.
Here are three ideas to get you started:
1. Forgive Yourself
Let’s start with a BIG ASS PERMISSION SLIP to forgive yourself for being an imperfect parent. If you are like me, you had zero training. I also wasn’t always paying attention from birth to 18 when I had my best chance to observe real parents at work.
While you’re at it, here’s an extra BIG ASS PERMISSION SLIP for your partner. They are doing the best they can. They may seem like they don’t care to learn more. They may be stubborn. But really, like most of us, they are scared that they are fucking it up. All the time. Give them a break.
2. Back away from the saw blade
You can’t keep going at this pace. You can’t be productive if you always go and never breathe or hydrate. You need to sharpen the saw (hat tip to Stephen Covey). You need to carve out time to take care of yourself.
No factory can run 24/7/365. There are times you NEED to take the saw offline for sharpening. When you do it for the first time, you will see a HUGE difference in your attitude as a parent. You will wonder “why didn’t I do this before?”
When you make the commitment to yourself to step back and sharpen your saw regularly, you will start to see an ENORMOUS difference in your kids.
3. Mistakes = Learning
My last BIG ASS PERMISSION SLIP is for you to give to your kids. Take a moment to reflect on how many successes and failures got you to this point in your life. Now try to subtract the failures and struggles from the picture. Would you be who you are? I wouldn’t. The biggest turning points in my life came from tragedy and mishap. I wouldn’t trade them for the world.
Give your kids permission to stray from the path. There is a lot of learning that can happen when we shut up, stop structuring everything, and choose to stop filling their little heads with knowledge. You don’t need to home school or “un-school” your child but you DO need to check out some of the new ways that parents are finding to educate their children. Let them be imperfect learners. Ease up on the desire to control everything they get and do and see.
WARNING LABEL: Every single force in the world (schools, experts, Pinterest, your relatives) are in on the scam to make you feel like you are doing too little. That is a recipe for stressed-out parents AND stressed-out kids. I am privileged to help thousands of parents and kids communicate about the things that matter the most: pressure, expectations, and risky behavior.
If you are a father who wants support to do LESS and get better results, you are welcome to join our online program or the in-person Fatherhood Support Group if you live in the Greater Philadelphia area.