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Take Charge of Your Home Court

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Guest blogger Robin Sax: Conventional wisdom holds that judges control the courtroom.After all, they wear the black robes, sit in elevated chairs behind imposing desks and are referred to as "your honor." But as experienced players in the system know, it's the prosecutor who has the real power.It's the prosecutor who files the cases, offers plea bargains and chooses which cases will go to a jury. The judge may have the gavel, but the DA has the ultimate leverage in seeing that justice is done.

woman cleaning house
Conventional wisdom also holds that parents are in control of the home. After all, they're the adults who sit at the ends of the table and have the power titles of "mom" or "dad." But if parents are really calling the shots, why do so many complain that their lives have been taken over by their children?

Just as prosecutors must ensure the safety of society by "owning the courtroom," parents must ensure the safety of their children by "owning the home." This is not a gray area, this is not a suggestion and this is not a maybe, a sometimes or a mostly. The bottom line is that families are not democracies; parents are the leaders, and kids are the followers. There can be no doubt as to who is in charge: It is the parent.

The parent is the adult and the holder of responsibility. Children, no matter what their ages, depend on their parents to be the bosses. They depend on that because they rely on the fact that their parents are the adults who will unconditionally act in their best interests. It may come as a surprise to some parents, but the truth is, children expect boundaries -- even when they resist them. They want their parents to be in charge.

Children need adults to help them develop the skills that will prepare them for life both within the home and outside it. Life at home offers just a small sampling of what the future will hold when children mature to adulthood. Parents must meet their obligations and serve as models for right action in order to be confident that their children will be able to face future challenges with maturity.

If you don't take hold of the reins of power in your home, you can rest assured that your child will. There are a number of telltale signs to look for when answering the "Who's really in charge?" question. Such as: Is your family room overflowing with toys? Is your hallway filled with kids' shoes and balls? Is your kitchen table cluttered with yesterday's homework assignments? Are you resigned to the fact that your house will only be clean when the kids are in college? Are weekends spent at birthday parties, on soccer fields or dragging the kids from one activity or playdate to the next? Was the last vacation you had without kids your long-ago honeymoon? Do you excuse yourself to go to the "potty" when you are at a business lunch? Do you find yourself listening to Barney when you are in the car alone? Are you embarrassed to get a drink of water in your own house because your son's in the kitchen making out with his girlfriend? Do you have a migraine because you actually bought your child that drum set? Are you walking a dog you hate? Is your word honored and respected? Does your "no" usually turn to a "yes"? And the questions go on, and on, and on ....

If you are mortified at the number of "yes" answers you had to the above questions, then it's time to recognize that your home is a microcosm of the rest of your child's life. Lessons learned on the home front will teach your child how to function in society. If your child doesn't experience the word "no" at home, how will he/she take it when hearing it from a teacher, a boss or a spouse?

In order for your children to live in the real world (i.e., the world of rules, expectations and consequences), they need to experience these boundaries as early in their lives as possible. From the time their children are toddlers, parents should instill in them certain behaviors that reflect adult wisdom and experience.

next: 7 Life Lessons about Weight Gain
50 comments so far | Post a comment now
mdmomma September 8, 2010, 10:02 AM

This is a great article. I think so many parents today would rather be friends with their kids than be their parents. Kids fair much better in “real” life when they understand how to live within the rules. Thank you.

Alison September 8, 2010, 1:04 PM

I agree with the concept of this article, kids need to learn boundaries and to understand their parents are in charge and have their own space, time, interests, ect. On the other hand, I don’t think I have lost control of my house because I have toys in the family room or shoes in the hallway. I think those are signs of children in a home and I will miss them someday. But, when I want these things to be put away or organized I expect them to do it the first time I ask. I also enjoy watching my kids on the soccer field and learning social skills from birthday parties but when 4 invitations come home for one weekend they have to make a choice!

Barbara Machen September 8, 2010, 1:55 PM

agree with this article. I think discipline (or being strict) is a form of love. It takes a lot more energy on the parents part to teach your child right from wrong, good manners and how to be a good person then to let them do (or have) whatever they want. Kids have plenty of friends they need parents to guide them and create a structured environment for them that offers security. I am all for being the CEO of my house!!


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