All parents have a few bad habits that keep them from a stronger relationship with their children. This Lent forgo giving up chocolate in favor of giving up a bad parenting strategy. Here are some common ones:
Yelling: If your kids listen only when you raise your voice, it may mean they believe their actions have no consequences. Parents who are able to motivate kids without yelling do so by letting the consequence of the child’s decision speak for itself. When you’re tempted to scream, “I told you five times to pick up these clothes from the floor,” try instead matter-of-factly stating the consequence if the clothes aren’t picked up by a certain time.
Inconsistency: If you struggle with follow-through, decide on Ash Wednesday that children need to be lovingly held to limits in order to thrive. They also need adults who keep their promises. Doing what you say you will—whether it’s a treat or a consequence—builds security for children.
Multitasking: If you find yourself checking e-mail or texting as your second grader tells you about an event at school, you may need to give up multitasking for Lent. Be intentional about how you listen to your children. Ask them more questions.
Fast food: If more than one meal a week is passed to your family through a drive-thru window, you may benefit from a Lent without fast food.
Don’t expect that you’ll be able to successfully quit your bad habits cold-turkey. Instead, use the first few days of Lent to develop a plan for yourself. Prepare for the situations that will most likely cause you to backslide, and talk to your child’s other parent about your goal and ask for support. Each Sunday of Lent, at Mass, recommit to your goal and pray for the upcoming week.
—by Annemarie Scobey from the pages of At Home with Our Faith, Claretian Publications’ print newsletter for parents on nurturing spirituality in the home. Winner of the 2010 and 2011 General Excellence award from the Catholic Press Association. Here’s a sample issue.
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