Parenting Tips From an Expert
If you had the chance to ask a parenting expert for advice on specific topics in real time, what would you ask? I know there have been moments in my parenting experience where, despite all the books I've read and research I've done, I'm still at a loss as to handle things successfully. Recently, participants in one of our book club chats got that very opportunity, with Treion Muller, author of Dad Rules: A Simple Manual for a Complex Job, which I recently reviewed. He is also the father of five children, four daughters and a son. And, though his own father left their family when Treion was only seven years old and his mother passed away when he was 20, he was blessed to have seven “surrogate” dads, as he calls them, from whom he learned the art of parenting. Here are his responses to chatters' questions:
Each child is different and needs somewhat different rules and styles of discipline. How do you set rules for each child without any of them thinking you are favoring the other?
Treion: Be consistent as much as possible with all of your children, and have frequent one-on-one time with each child, which is rule #67 in my book. It doesn’t take long to sit down with one child at a time and ask them about their friends, how they are doing in school, what concerns or challenges they are facing, etc. It does provide a safe environment for them to open up if they need to, and it communicates that you care enough about them to ask about their lives. For this rule to be effective, you need to remember to practice rule #31 and just listen.
Both expert and chatters alike agreed that this one-on-one time doesn't necessarily have to be at home. It can be during carpool, or while other siblings are at soccer practice or piano lessons. The important thing is to consistently show interest in each of them individually, consistently apply rules to all of your children, and consistently discipline each child with their particular temperaments and needs in mind.
Rule #14 says we should brush up on our math (and other subjects) so that we can actually help with homework. What are some good resources to help us do that?
Treion: khanacademy.org is a library of 2700 videos covering everything from math to physics, finance, and history. It's also important to observe your children to see what kinds of homework or what ways of doing homework are most comfortable for them.
In emotionally-charged or irrational situations, you recommend "learning when to say nothing at all" (rule #31). This is easier said than done. What are some tips on how to zip your lips? How do you find clarity when you are mad?
Treion: I keep it in until it subsides. You might call it my own "time-out."
You suggest helping to clean up messes in rule #3, yet you also say "don't stress too much about the mess." What are some resources you recommend, and how do you know when to not stress?
Treion: Just remember that no man has died from changing a diaper ... yet. Also, know some nontraditional cleaning tips, like cornmeal absorbs grease on light colored fabric or upholstery, baby powder sprinkled on a shirt’s underarms and collar prevents sweat stains, and car wax can be used to polish faucets, tiles, and doors. For more great ideas on cleaning up messes, check out doityourself.com.
Parenting is most definitely a unique and powerful adventure, and no parent—dad or mom—should do it alone.
What are some of your favorite parenting resources?
Featured image courtesy of Flickr.