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Let them eat doughnuts

A few weeks back, a friend was telling me about a mom who was giving her son “the business” because he was eating a doughnut. She had the ‘ole parent junk food lecture going in full swing. You know, the one all we parents can pull out at a moment’s notice … or the appearance of a doughnut. Her son held up a hand to interrupt her and said, “Mom, I’m a good kid and this is a doughnut!”My friend and I reflected on the lesson. We often get carried away with our parental ranting when it really isn’t necessary. We agreed that we had learned a valuable lesson from that young man.It wasn’t two hours later that I found myself in a similar situation. I walked into the kitchen after a family trip to the grocery store to find all the groceries on the counter and only one of my sons within sight. First, I put the one kid to work unpacking groceries, then in my best indignant tone asked after the other. “He’s taking a shower,” my husband said. “A shower?!” I replied. “When there are groceries to put away? What about the frozen food he picked out. It will all be ruined!” As I started toward the bathroom, my husband innocently asked, “Are you going to yell at him for taking a shower now after all these years of yelling at him to take a shower?” The doughnut story popped into mind. “Good point,” I said. “He is a good kid and it is a shower we are talking about.” Don’t think I totally missed my parent-knows-best opportunity. When he emerged from the bathroom, I didn’t do the lecture thing but did point out that putting away frozen food should be the first priority when arriving home from the grocery store. He agreed. I was saved from appearing the ranting mother about something quite inconsequential in the big picture of parenting.The lesson for my son could have been much more lasting, however, had I just gotten completely out of the way of this wonderful opportunity for him to experience the natural consequence of his action.The frozen food had actually been of his choosing. Had I left well enough alone, he could have discovered it thawing and melting on the counter some hours (or days – we are talking about a teenage boy here) later. My guess would be that he would be upset and want to know how that could have happened. Then we could have had meaningful conversation and a lesson long remembered. The next time you are ready to pull out one of your parenting lectures, try a parenting pause instead. You and your child will both come out ahead.If you have a question you would like YouthZone to answer, send it to YouthZone at mjcarnevale@youthzone.com.


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