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Rule 37: Children Should Be Loved, Not Managed

Aug 26, 2008
Kyra Posma is a 37-year-old wife and mother, married 10 years. She and her husband have two sons ages four and six.

As a mother I worry about my children's health, safety, and happiness. Additionally, as a working mom, I worry how my work schedule affects them. I work out of necessity and do not allow myself to feel guilty. In fact I enjoy working and at times I think even if I had a choice, I would still work. I do, on the other hand, make a conscious effort to try and minimize any affect of our daily routine. As we all know, the daily grind can be exhausting, especially for children.

I started to read the book "Parenting from the Inside Out" by Daniel J. Siegel, M.D., and Mary Hartzell, M. Ed., and came across the following quote:

"Children need to be enjoyed and valued, not managed."

When I first read this, I thought; "What a powerful statement." As I read it over and over, I realized, the first part is easy. Everyone loves and values their children. The second part is harder.

As a working mom, I thought how can I not manage them? If I didn't manage them, I would not get to work on time, they wouldn't get to school on time, homework wouldn't get done, dinner wouldn't get made. As I thought about this statement more, I realized that by over-managing my children, I am taking away the very essence of being a child. Rather than letting them play hide and seek with me, helping them get dressed, looking at the snow, or even picking out a different shirt, I found myself rushing them.

"Hurry Up, we're running late." "Don't jump on the bed". "Stop fooling around". "Sit down and eat". These are all too familiar phrases heard around our house in the morning. Often times by the time I got to work, I was so frustrated I was ready to explode, and the day was just starting. Imagine how they felt.

So I started getting up earlier. I noticed on the days where I don't rush the children, allow them to enjoy waking up, limit hovering over them to make sure we are keeping to schedule, we all start the day in a better mood. I also notice on the days that I do rush out of the house, I end up in traffic or behind a school bus anyway. Either way I end up at work at the same time, so why not make our time pleasurable.

I started to see the rewards of my new approach almost immediately. One day, my son had learned to tie his shoes while at school. The next morning he wanted to show me how he could tie his shoes by himself. Since he just started, he was having problems and it was taking several minutes. Before my new-found attitude, I would have taken over and tied his shoes for him so we could get in the car. On this day, however, I said to myself "When I get there I will get there," and patiently and excitedly observed him. When he was done, he was so proud of himself, as was I. He went to school proud and excited to show everyone.

The bottom line is time management - of your time, not your children's. Give yourself the time to enjoy being with your children while they are growing up. Cherish those great experiences and create the magical memories. Make sure to give yourself enough time so you allow your children the time to be just that, children. Their agenda is completely different than ours, and if we valued them, we would allocate our time so that we can honor what is important to them, being a child. I now find that I enjoy being one with them.

As excerpted from "42 Rules (tm) for Working Moms" Super Star Press, 2008.
About the Author
Laura Lowell is the executive editor and author of "42 Rules for Working Moms." She has gathered practical advice and information from working moms all over the world to share with others. She lives and works in Silicon Valley with her husband and two girls. http://www.42rules.com/working_moms/index
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