. Helping Them Keep Commitments

Summer is such a wonderful time for playing with friends, going places with buddies, and otherwise stretching the vacation hours with interest and variety!

Children and teenagers all know how to extend the confines of our patience, too.  They will commit to come home at 4 p.m. so they can practice the piano before dinner and then call to ask (because they are having such a fun time) if they can practice after dinner.  Well, you know what will probably happen if you let them stay longer.  The practicing won’t get done.

And then your teenager might ask to do his chores after he has gone with friends to the tennis tournament because he forgot to arrange for someone else in the family do them.  Because the tournament lasts all day, those chores will likely be undone tomorrow morning if you acquiesce.

And your younger children will say, “Please, just this time”, “Can’t we?” and “Why not?” enough to drive you wild with indecision and frailty.

So, as this summer begins, decide to decide.  What will be your regular standard for helping them keeping their commitments?  Will you allow certain exceptions and when?  Can you be firm in all other cases and not give in to whining, manipulation, and sulking?

Oh, my friends, being a parent is the hardest of all occupations.  Somehow, it seems we are working with family members smarter and more determined than we.  But if we are to have rules, standards, and some routine to this summer, there should probably be a set way of handling situations when the chores have been left undone because the family member is away, the teenager wants to work after he has played, and the younger children poke and pull at your indecisiveness until you want to surrender.

While I hope we all enjoy our summertime activities, let’s sit down with our family and decide how we will work things when one child wants to stay longer at a friend’s and will miss setting the dinner table, when a teenager will be gone on his day to cook lunch, and your youngster has asked to stay late for a movie at a friend’s home when its her responsibility to feed the dogs.

It will make for a more wonderful, leisurely season when everyone knows the rules and you are confident in enforcing them.  Good luck and remember, it is all right to say, “No, now this time.  You didn’t make previous arrangements like we talked about in family council.  Come home tonight and next time let’s plan ahead.”

Find more helpful ideas in my House of Order Handbook.

Photo from sxc.hu. Used with permission.


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