Photo by Donna Voss

My fourteen year old son is home, and we are in the midst of an all-systems update from Parenting 1.0. It’s amazing what five months of family therapy can do. Especially for the mom, who, it turns out, was a rather significant part of the problem. (I hate it when that happens.) That’s not to say the other people at the party were all sunshine and candlesticks, but I can only speak for myself.

I must say in my defense that I was working on incomplete and erroneous information, which fact I use to rationalize quite a bit of my old parenting approach. Rather than confess every sordid detail of Parenting 1.0, I’ll just share some wisdom that triggered the update to Parenting 2.0:

  • When his clothes are strewn all over the floor, it’s a lot easier to pick them up than to train him to be a fully autonomous human being right that second.
  • It’s a nice idea to have my future daughter-in-law in mind as I shape his behavior, but she’s just going to have to deal.
  • If I help him do his chores:
    • He does them without complaining.
    • We spend time together than doesn’t require me to play Sorry, Candy Land, or Monopoly.
    • He feels loved.
    • Things are done in a reasonable amount of time and to a reasonable standard.
    • He is more cooperative and obedient when I ask him to do things later.
  • If he leaves a light on upstairs, I can choose between:
    • asking him to turn if off;
    • turning it off myself;
    • letting it go (which does require some rationalization effort but so far has been worth it).
  • Not every infraction needs a consequence; sliding on a few things will not turn him into a serial killer (in all likelihood).
  • Throws (blankets) on the living room furniture both adds to the comfy of the room and makes spills (no matter how frequent) a non-issue.
  • It doesn’t really matter how much tv he watches because:
    • We can’t all be Dr. Ben Carson (whose mother got rid of the tv and who went on to become a world renowned pediatric neurosurgeon).
    • Even if I force him to live a high-brow childhood, it doesn’t mean he’ll choose a high-brow life, and it’s looking extremely unlikely so whatevs.
    • Life is better for all of us that way.
  • If he wants Eggos for breakfast, lunch, and dinner:
    • It won’t kill him.
    • It’s an easy way for me to wait on him hand and foot, which is enough to shock his system into reboot.
    • When I serve him Eggos with butter, syrup, milk, utensils, and napkins, he feels loved.
    • He is more cooperative and obedient when I ask him to do things later.
  • When I hear him annoying my husband, and my husband getting more and more annoyed with him, I remind myself of the delicious truth that it’s their problem, not mine.

Things are going really well. I like this update a lot.

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