Dear Dr. Renaud:
My kids don’t listen to me. I feel like I am yelling and threatening all the time. I don’t like myself and I’m sure my kids don’t like me much either but it’s the only way I can get them to behave.
I am so embarrassed in public when they don’t listen and act like brats. Help!
Pulling Out My Hair
First and foremost, you have to take charge. Many parents these days have essentially given over all their power to their children. The kids are in charge and that needs to change.
Parents aren’t actually parenting – that is the problem. You negotiate with your kids and spend a lot of time trying to get them to agree. STOP IT.
You also need to stop trying to be their friend and to ensure that they like you. That is not your job as a parent – parenting is. You need to set the rules, the structure and the routines. That is hard to do when you have let the kids drive the bus.
My question is why? Why are you letting the youngest and most inexperienced members of the family be in charge? Does that make sense? It doesn’t to me.
YOU need to decide what is going to happen, when it is going to happen and why; period. This will take time and effort on your part but the payoff is worth it.
Think about the amount of time you waste with poor or no planning – for example – getting kids to bed at night. How much time is wasted negotiating bath and bedtime? If it is scheduled and planned it is easier to stick to.
When the kids argue with you, just point to the schedule (that should be posted in a visible place) and remind them that it is on the schedule. You need to take time to make a clear schedule with input from the kids – that way they can’t complain later that “it’s not fair”. They have had input and it is fair.
You will be amazed how much nicer life can be and how much more time you find you have when you don’t waste it arguing, cajoling, negotiating and begging them to do things.
Dr. Danielle Renaud helps parents deal with both everyday and unusual parenting and family issues. She can be reached at 778-421-1925 or firstname.lastname@example.org.