The Parenting Coach: Pick your Battles

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gilabrown110BY GILA BROWN, M.A.

During a recent trip to a local department store, I approached the down escalator to find that it had stopped working. A woman about halfway down looked back up at her husband and said, (I kid you not.), “This happened last time, and we were stuck here for hours.” Now, I need not remind my savvy readers that an inoperable escalator functions almost as well as a fully functioning staircase. I can only hope I misinterpreted this woman’s comment, but I have to admit, I was grateful for the humorous reminder of Occam’s Razor; the scientific principle that states that the simplest strategy tends to be the best one. I laughed out loud as I made my way downstairs and wondered how often in life we make things much more complicated than they ought to be.

More often than not, in every area of our lives, we tend to be very attached to certain outcomes. We have images in our minds about how we expect things to happen. We expect our kids to be dressed and in the car to make it to school on time. We expect them to get along with each other. We expect a certain level of etiquette when we take them out in public.

The problem with being attached to an outcome is that life is never quite as simple and smooth as we would like it to be. There are traffic jams, tantrum-ing toddlers, and an endless list of insignificant things that can go wrong in the course of the day. If we cling to an idea of how life is supposed to be, we set ourselves up for stress and disappointment. Moreover, when we attach ourselves to the idea that life should unravel in a certain way, we neglect to see the myriad of other options available to us; sometimes even those as obvious as walking down an escalator.

The hardest thing for me to teach parents is to let go of some of the need for control. Whatever illusion of control we maintain is just that, an illusion. Life happens with or without us. What if we allow for it and just roll with it? Ultimately, it is up to us to choose how we respond to any and all of life’s hiccups. Does our stress level go up when our kids insist on wearing shorts in the rain? Or can we step back, take a photo and remember to laugh about it years from now?

Someone once pointed out to me that, when you see a train coming towards you, you have two choices. You can stand in front and attempt to stop the train, though you risk being run over. Alternatively, you can step aside, jump up on a box-car and go along for the ride.

Here’s to enjoying the ride!

© Gila Brown, 2009

Gila Brown, M.A. is a Child Development Expert and Parent Coach, with over 10 years of teaching experience. She specializes in parenting school-age children with grace, using principles of attachment parenting, positive discipline and effective communication. Visit www.GilaBrown.com to sign up for a free newsletter.

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About Karen Young

Karen Young is the founder of My Daily Find.

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