Parenting is a lot of wonderful things, but it also can be
mind-numbingly difficult. For some, the challenges become even more
intense when those early years-during which it's fairly easy to
rally the troops with Barney tunes, wacky dancing and Happy
Meals-give way to the sometimes-perplexing tweens and teens, when
things suddenly pick up speed and parenting feels like a breathless
sprint to catch a runaway train. The bickering increases,
activities and agendas pull family members in different directions,
and someone (usually mom or dad) gets stuck with the lion's share
of the laundry-and an ulcer.
This confluence of circumstances reminds me of how every now and
then, someone somewhere pitches a tent for herself in her front
yard and makes headlines by announcing she's on strike. She's sick
of the whining, is fed up with their refusal to help out and has
decided she's "not going to take it anymore." Sound familiar? It's
too chilly to pitch a tent, by golly, and running away will just
makes matters worse, so try a new game plan.
Pick one hour-on Saturday mornings, for example-when you'll team
up, pick chores out of a hat, turn up the volume and get 'em done.
Your crew may prefer grooving to Lady Gaga over Barney these days,
but the good-vibes effect will be the same. A bonus? You'll
communicate a "we're in this together" message, an expectation that
will be reinforced every week.
Have some non-chore-related fun together, too.
It's natural and healthy for your children to crave more time
with their friends these days, but fun family time needn't
completely evaporate. Think you have nothing in common with your
kids anymore? Notice those things you do share an interest in, no
matter how small, and build on them. Is there a television show
everyone likes? Set the DVR to record it, find a consistent time
when you will all be home every week and pop the popcorn. It may
surprise you how very little time it takes to reconnect.
Your children's social lives may be blossoming, but don't forget
to "get a life" of your own, too. Make sure you regularly schedule
kid-free time when you can unwind and recharge in the company of
your own BFFs.
Parenting really isn't for sissies. You'll need to bank some
belly laughs-and helpful hints from other parents in the
trenches-if you're going to keep your head above water during your
Through it all, you'll be able to keep your family's growing
pains in perspective if you accept that a major mission of
childhood is growing up and gaining as much independence (from you,
dear mom and dad) as possible.
Your child may not allow you to hold his hand in public any
longer, but you can bet that he'll appreciate a warm one on his
shoulder from time to time.
Got a concern? If you're a parent and it's on your mind,
chances are you're not alone. Send questions to [email protected]
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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