Jay finally "earned" his dessert by eating his dinner. He doesn't even remember the mini-tantrum it took to get to this moment.

Jay finally “earned” his dessert by eating his dinner. He doesn’t even remember the mini-tantrum it took to get to this moment.

My House, My Rules

Back before there were lengthy discussions about bottle vs. breast or what was “good parenting” and what was “bad parenting” was my parents’ hardcore parenting style. No sugar coating or being your child’s friend. My parents were great, but by today’s standards they’d be hardcore. Only because today I think a lot of parents live in fear of their children’s tantrums, disapproval or hearing the words “I hate you.” To me, if I don’t hear that once a week at least it means I’m not doing my job. I think our parents’ generation was more concerned that we had full bellies, a roof over our heads, good grades, and acted respectfully, especially to our elders. They didn’t concern themselves so much with the organic not organic debate or whether or not to vaccinate. I think my generation sometimes can’t see the proverbial forest for the trees.

Inspired by my Step-dad’s immortal words, “If you don’t like what’s for dinner, the diner is down the street,” here are three hardcore parenting lessons we should have learned to make our lives a whole lot easier.

1. You Eat What I Make – Did we like every dish put in front of us? No. But we ate it because there was no separate kids meal to choose from. I honestly don’t know how moms manage to put together multiple meals each night, but I simply refuse. If my kids don’t like something they are still required to eat a little of it. I think as moms it’s easy to get tired of the fight, but in my house it’s “No dinner, No dessert.” Not eating is not a choice. Kids aren’t going to like what they are given sometimes, but I want them to learn to make the best of it. A boss will not simply take an assignment off their plate (pun intended) because they don’t like it. I don’t ask that they clean their plates, only that they make a decent effort.

2. No Means No – Raise your hand if you’ve heard this one? What it really means is quit asking me because my decision is final. Being a parent is sometimes like being subjected to terrorist level manipulation tactics. The screaming, the complaining, the nagging, all in an effort to wear down your patience so you’ll give in. We all want to be the “good parent,” but it’s so important that we are people of our word whether they want to hear it or not. If no means maybe, we’ll spend our lives arguing with our kids.

3. You Can Do It Yourself – As soon as my kids master a new skill I say a silent prayer of thanks. Why? Because it’s one less thing I need to do for them. I was making my own lunches in elementary school and could cook and do laundry long before high school, things that don’t seem to happen much anymore. Our parents taught us self-reliance and trust when they told us to do things for ourselves. While my kids are still young and can’t do a lot of things on their own, giving them ownership over the things they can do teaches them responsibility. They get themselves dressed and brush their teeth, hang up their backpacks and put their dishes in the dishwasher. Doing the little things for your kids may seem quicker and easier, but in the long run encouraging them to do things for themselves will give them independence and you a much needed break.

No Drama Mama

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