Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff with Your Kids
by Jonathan McKee
“If you could give just one piece of advice to the parents in this audience, what would it be?”
That was the question I posed to the panel of parents gathered on the stage of this particular parenting class. And I’ll never forget what a guy named Marshall shared. He said: “Don’t sweat the small stuff.”
He went on to tell a story about trying to teach his daughter a lesson and finally realizing, “The very act of correcting was becoming so tedious and problematic that it was creating a worse problem than the original infraction.”
As he shared the story, I couldn’t help but think, Been there! I identified with his description more than he would ever know. I had committed this mistake countless times.
I’m not alone in this struggle. My good friend Gary recently asked me, “Jonathan, I’ve told my daughter thirteen times to put away her towels after she showers. We found almost a dozen towels in the corner of her room yesterday. What should we do?”
The first question I asked my friend was, “Is she sneaking out of the house?”
“No. No. She’s getting over a 4.0.”
“Is she smoking pot in her room?”
He laughed and said, “No.”
I smiled. “Then tell her since she likes to collect towels, it’s time for her to do her own laundry. Tell her once, hand her a box of detergent . . . and then let it go.”
Five years ago I would not have known to give that advice. But now that I’ve seen my kids go off to school and begin making choices on their own, I have grown increasingly confident I should have “let it go” more often and given them all even more opportunities to learn lessons on their own.
Don’t misunderstand. I’m not saying, “Allow your kids to disobey and talk smack.”
If you tell your kid to put their towel away and they ignore you, then warn them, and if they keep doing it, apply a natural consequence whereby they can learn that lesson themselves.
Ask yourself, “What could be a good natural consequence of hoarding bath towels?” Maybe have them do their own laundry. They’re going to have to do laundry when they move out, right? Might as well give them some practice now since they seem to be vying for that independence.
Don’t ground them for a week because they don’t hang up towels. They’ll respect you more for not dwelling on it. Don’t turn every mistake into an opportunity to correct, lecture, or rebuke.
Raising kids isn’t easy. Raising young men and women is even harder. But try to remember how hard it was being that age. Today’s teenagers are currently the most stressed age group. They’re balancing a huge load, they’re worried about the future . . . and they’re dealing with all this stress with raging hormones and a brain that isn’t fully developed. Don’t allow yourself to get caught up in the crazy.
Let it go!
We’d like to hear from you. Please share your comments below or like us on your Facebook page. Be sure to check back each month for more articles and products available at your local Christian bookstore.