Standing Together: A Parenting Success Story

February 12th, 2013 posted by Ron Huxley

A Parenting Success Story

family “There he is again, sitting in front of that Nintendo machine. Didn’t I just tell him to go do his homework?” said the mother, her arm on her hip, eyes glaring at the back of the father’s head. The father appeared more involved in the news program on the television but had heard every word. Turning off the television, the father replied, “You know. If you were a little more firm, he would ignore you so much.” That wasn’t exactly the reply the mother was looking for, he knew. She wanted him to deal with the problem. But it angered him that she was so lax with their son. And he was tired from a long day at the office. First he had to listen to customer complaints and now his wife at home. “Why is this my problem? He is the one not doing his homework!” The mother retorted in defense. Why did he have to always blame her for their son’s behavior? If he was around more and took a more active role in their son’s parenting she wouldn’t be left doing the dirty work. She hated feeling like she was an only parent all the time. “Well, are you going to just stand there or do something about this.” Just as the father was about to launch another verbal attack, he saw his son watching them from the den, his race car on the Nintendo crashing into a wall. Good metaphor, he thought to himself. Another crash and burn scenario. “You know, the parenting educator at the school last week said that children don’t follow rules because the rules are often not clear,” said the father. These words appeared to take the hot air that was building up in the mother and her facial expressions changed from anger to a more peaceful look. Or maybe it was just exhaustion. Parenting was such a challenge. That’s why they had both agreed to take the parenting class. The father was hesitant at first but knew that they were losing ground as parents. Maybe even as husband and wife. The mother moved closer to the husband, put her arm on his arm as if sensing his insecurity about their family relationships, and stated, “The educator said we have two jobs. To be a leader and a model to the children. If we stick together, our son won’t be able to ‘divide and conquer.’ We need to be clear with him about what we expect around homework.” With a quick squeeze of the mothers hand, a sign of truce and togetherness, the father started digging through the papers on the kitchen counter to find the handouts given by the instructor last week. It reminded him that they hadn’t done their homework either. Maybe if they had, they would be in this place right now. Finally, he found the hand out, quickly read to where it listed how to “make rules” and read out loud to his wife. “It says, rules hold the family together,” he paused, making eye contact with his wife. Her eyes showed the quilt and embarrassment he felt too. “Choose rewards and consequences that you are willing to enforce. Include your child in making rules when appropriate. Inform your child of each rule. And, check for understanding by your child.” After a quick huddle, the mother and father decided what they wanted from their son when it came to the homework. They called their son into the kitchen, who looked back and forth at his parents in confusion and a little fear, and then finally said “What?” defiantly. Ignoring his defiance, which the educator had said was only bait to hook parents into an argument so that he could wiggle out of any consequences, they continued. In a very businesslike manner, the father stated, “Your mother and I have decided that each night, after school, we want you to go directly to your room, sit at your desk, and do your homework. There will be no Nintendo until after you have finished the homework. You can come out for help or a short break and then right back to the work.” Their son tried to bait the parents again, saying things like “you don’t understand” and “that’s not fair” only to have the baiting fail miserably as the parents stuck together. They practiced some of the listening skills that the educator had taught them. They repeated back his words and his frustrations but stuck to their decision. Soon their son mumbled a feeble “fine!” and walked off to his room to do his homework, the Nintendo left on in the den. The father noticed that a wrecker had come and picked up the car that had crashed into the wall and the pit crew were starting repairs. Time for a few repairs in this family as well. The mother told the father how glad she was that they had started that parenting class. She mentioned that they ought to finish this week homework assignment as the next class was tomorrow night. The father agreed. They certainly would have something to share with the class tomorrow. Something successful and hopeful.

Ron Huxley (8 Posts)

"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."
-- Luke 2:14Ron Huxley is a child and family therapist and the author of the book "Love & Limits: Achieving a Balance in Parenting." Pick up a copy of the book and join the FREE online parenting class at

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