Monday, October 25, 2010


Parenting is a mixed bag! It is one of the most important and rewarding jobs we'll ever do in our lives, but it is sometimes stressful and full of concerns.

One of the things that is important in parenting is consistency. Most of us understand that there needs to be consistency in discipline. The rules don't change or bend according to the mood of the parent, and the consequence is the same each time. Predictability communicates to the child that it is in their best interest to choose their behavior wisely.

Consistency is also important in teaching your children values and priorities.

Examine what your priorities are. What are they? Faith? Education? Teaching kindness? Good manners? Family?

Decide what the priorities are, and then every parenting decision you make needs to fit with that.

Sometimes decisions are made that bring two priorities into conflict. In those times, you have to decide what the top priority is.

It isn't easy. Trying to wade through the hundreds of parenting decisions you make in your kids' lives can be overwhelming. If you have your priority list in your head, when you are thinking about what decision to make, ask yourself:

  • What does this decision teach my child about ______? (fill in the blank with the priority you're thinking about)
  • How does this decision line up with what I want my child to understand about _______?
  • If I make this decision, will my child get the impression that ______ is less important?

You get the idea! Remember that the goal of parenting is to give your child an opportunity (although ultimately your child will make his/her own choices) to grow into a person with values, morals, and character. Each decision you make moves towards that or away from that.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Holiday Stress

It is that time of year again!

Many people see the holidays as kind of a "mixed bag." They will report that it is their favorite time of year, while at the same time saying that they hate the stress and the pressure of the holidays.

My best advice for not just surviving the holidays but enjoying them? Boundaries!

Family Boundaries - You need to decide with your household what you want your holiday to look like. If you currently spend all of your holidays in the car making sure you can get to parents, inlaws, etc. and you feel it is too much, then stop! Decide what you will do, inform family members, and then stick to the plan.

Consider (for example) spending the actual holiday with your side of the family and then celebrating with your spouse's family on the Saturday before the holiday. If not that, then some variation of that.

I have three married children who all have inlaws, of course. and we have to make some of those kinds of adjustments. This year, all of my children will be with inlaws on Thanksgiving and they'll be with us on Saturday. It works just fine.

Money Boundaries - Money is perhaps the biggest stressor at this time of year. Make a decision before you start shopping as to what your budget is this year. Include items in the budget such as gifts, food (i.e. baking or holiday dinners), and special activities (i.e. holiday concerts). Then stick to your budget. Decide up front that credit cards are off limits.

Consider making homemade gifts, or consider giving a service (i.e. washing someone's car once a month) or a time (going for coffee once a month) gift. Don't confuse love with amount spent.

Shorten your gift list. If you are giving some gifts out of obligation, consider cutting that person all together or cutting down the amount you spend on that person. Or consider giving something more personal, such as a picture of your family. Be creative!

Time Boundaries - There are so many possibilities and expectations in terms of activities during the holidays. Take the time to consider all the invitations to parties, concerts, tree-lightings, decorating parties, etc. and realize that you may not be able to make them all. Decide what is reasonable (i.e. "I cannot be out every night during the weekend" or "I can only do one activity per weekend" or "I'll do two activities per week.") Whatever your limit, decide and then stick to it.

Also realize that just because something has always been, doesn't mean it always needs to continue. Life is a series of choices, and some of those choices involve time commitments.


Decide your boundaries, and then stick to them. You will probably find yourself less stressed and enjoying the holidays more!