TIPS FOR PARENTS
Q: How do I teach my daughter about responsibility when I am
the type who gets a project done as soon as it is assigned and she
is the type who waits until the last minute? It's so hard to live
by the old adage that she 'just needs to learn the hard way.' I
want my daughter to be the best she can be. I have a bit of a
control issue and find it so difficult to not break down and just
say "Give me the stinking materials and I'll just do it!"
I know from experience how difficult the issue of
procrastination can be. I was that child and am still that adult.
However, I have found that I do some of my best work when
adrenaline, inspired by an impending deadline, is coursing through
Perhaps this is how your daughter achieves her best results? If
not, maybe you two can compromise. Consider encouraging her to at
least prepare for projects earlier by helping her to collect
materials and brainstorming (which, hint, hint, may be all it takes
to get the ball rolling) and then allow her to pull it together in
her own way by deadline time.
You're smart to resist doing all of the work for your daughter.
Surely it would be satisfying to get projects out of the way by any
means necessary, but then she would miss out on their lessons.
I can tell from your question that you already have a hunch that
"consequences are great teachers," but let's take this idea a step
further. The next time your daughter receives an assignment, ask
her about her strategy. If she balks, consider telling her that you
are available to help, but otherwise, you won't interfere. When she
gets it done-and this is critical-gently ask her how she thinks
things turned out. Is she pleased with the results? If not, how
might she handle deadlines in the future in order to achieve the
outcome she desires? Is something else going on for her that makes
meeting deadlines difficult? This conversation may help you to root
I realize that allowing your daughter to potentially "fail" this
time can be uncomfortable, but remember: if she doesn't have an
experience of failing while she's living at home with your support,
figuring out how to cope with the consequences of poor planning
when she's on her own can be a lot harder.
As for your daughter being the "best she can be," sometimes we
learn that our "projects" for our kids' lives don't
correspond with their projects for their own lives-and
that, dear reader, may be the hardest lesson of them
Jennifer DuBose, M.S., C.A.S., is a licensed marriage and
family therapist in private practice in Batavia. She has been a
clinical member of The American Association for Marriage and Family
Therapy since 1995 and is a featured blogger at
Jennifer DuBose, M.S., C.A.S., is a licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice in Batavia.
See more of Jennifer's stories here.
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