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Family Coaching, Parenting Tips

What We Can Learn From the Post Office About Parenting

science-fair-project

By Shiloh Lundahl

Has this ever happened to you or someone you know?

Child: “Mom we need to go to the store tonight! My project is due tomorrow and I need a poster board and some construction paper!”

Parent: “How long have you known about this project?”

Child: “They told us two weeks ago, but I don’t see what that has to do with anything.”

Parent: “You have known for two weeks and you just now tell me! I can’t take you tonight. I have to get dinner going and pick your sister up from soccer and your brother up from basketball and then I have to clean the living room and vacuum before the costume committee for your brother’s play come over tonight. Why couldn’t you have told me this when you found out about it instead of waiting until the last-minute? You need to learn to be more responsible! You are always doing this – waiting until the last-minute and then expecting me to drop what I am doing and take you to the store to get things for your school projects when we could have picked them up when I was at the store earlier this week. Sometimes you are just so frustrating. Hurry up. Go get in the car!

What a sad, yet common scenario: The child’s lack of planning goes face-to-face with the parent’s anxiety of allowing her child to fail. After a frustrated inner wrestle, and a few shamming comments, the parent yields to her inner guilt and resentfully takes her child to the store to get his needed supplies further teaching her child that lack of planning on his part does create an emergency on her part.

What other options do parents have other than abandoning or rescuing their child? We may be able to find the answer by looking at a model developed by the post office. Have you ever needed to send a package or a letter so that it arrived the next day? I have… and wow was it expensive! Sending a package or letter that way can cost ten to twenty times more than sending it through the regular mail system. When I asked to have it sent next-day delivery, the mail clerk behind the desk didn’t scold me and tell me how irresponsible I was and that I needed to plan better. No, she just happily took my letter and then charged me an arm and a leg to deliver it.

Science-Fair-clipart

So how can this be applied to parenting? Simple! Rather than ranting and raving over the child being irresponsible, a parent can simply ask the child if they can afford it.

Child: “Mom we need to go to the store tonight! My project is due tomorrow and I need a poster board and some construction paper!”

Parent: “How long have you known about this project?”

Child: “They told us two weeks ago, but I don’t see what that has to do with anything.”

Parent: “I would love to help you out tonight son, however, I don’t know if you can afford it.”

Child: “What do you mean afford it?”

Parent: “Well son, I am happy to pick up school project supplies while I am shopping at the store. However, when I need to make an unexpected, special trip to the store it gets expensive. For example, I was planning on making dinner and then picking up your sister from soccer practice and your brother from basketball practice. Then I was planning on cleaning up and vacuuming the living room before some people come over tonight. If I take you to the store I won’t have enough time to do all of those things. I’ll tell you what, if you clean up the living room and vacuum to my standard while I am making dinner, and pay $5 for the gas for the car, I will pick up your supplies at the store when I pick up your brother and sister from practice.

Child: “That’s not fair. Since when should I have to pay for school supplies?”

Parent: “I agree it is not fair. It is not fair to expect me to stop what I am doing to pick up supplies for you at the store when I could have done it when I went to the store earlier this week. However, I understand that you need those supplies. So I am willing to get them as long as the living room looks spotless and you pay me $5 for the trip to the store. Let me know what you decide.”

What are the likely long-term effects of this non-shaming, non-abandoning, and non-rescuing approach on the child, the parent, and the relationship? The child may learn that it is cheaper for him to plan ahead. The parent may feel less resentment toward the child and feel less guilt about not rescuing him. The relationship may experience more respect, as well as more collaboration.

Shiloh Lundahl, LCSW, is a child and family therapist and an independent facilitator of Love and Logic curricula. He currently teaches parenting classes in Mesa and Queen Creek, AZ and provides in-home therapy and counseling services. Shiloh has three children of his own and he manages the parenting website http://www.parentarizona.com, and http://www.arizonafamilyinstitute.com

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Shiloh_Lundahl
http://EzineArticles.com/?What-We-Can-Learn-From-the-Post-Office-About-Parenting&id=8837390

 

 

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About Dangerous Lee

Writer of essays, short stories and Ask A Black Girl. Author of Keep Your Panties Up and Your Skirt Down & The Half Series - When Black People Look White. Webmaster of DangerousLee.biz.

Discussion

2 thoughts on “What We Can Learn From the Post Office About Parenting

  1. Now this is a parenting tactic I can get behind.

    Posted by Satin Sheet Diva | January 29, 2015, 9:11 pm

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