We sometimes reward (through actions) and praise (through words) our spouses, employees, children, and friends in ways that can actually harm them, even though it feels good at the time because it seems so positive. But what seems positive is not always what is best. A pizza slice or two is positive — but four can cause problems. These unwise reward/praise approaches, although well intentioned, create bad fruit. Remember — these are patterns, not isolated events. Doing these things every now and then would be all right, but when they become trends, they risk fostering attitudes of entitlement….
If you are a single parent, you may need to know something: you have the hardest job in the world. You have to meet all the needs of your kid, over many years, without the help of a spouse. Some of my (Dr. Townsend) closest friends are single parents, and my heart breaks with theirs when they encounter the rough years of parenting. Single parenting can sometimes be brutal and overwhelming. That’s why it’s important to discuss boundaries for single parents.
Many of my friends have also found the balance and resources they need, and they are experiencing success as parents. Their children and teens are doing well and are maturing at the right rate. So there is hope for you as well.
My (Dr. Townsend) three-year-old son, Benny, is now firmly ensconced in the “I can do it!” stage of life. The other day we were getting ready to go out to dinner, and everybody was ready but Benny. He’d gotten all ready except for his pesky Velcro-strapped tennis shoes. They just wouldn’t cooperate.
Being the helpful father (actually, the hurried father), I bent down to fasten his shoes for him. He quickly pushed my hands away, protesting, “I’ll do it! I’ll do it!” And he meant it. So we negotiated….
I (Dr. Cloud) had a very interesting conversation recently with a leader who accomplishes a lot and is very driven and effective. I have always been a fan of his work. We were working on a project together, and he made a reference to a particular work habit of his, logging almost every thought he has about his work into a very complicated matrix in a journal, and I asked him about it.
Nothing wrong with carrying a little book around and jotting down good ideas when they come. But this was much more; it was obsessive….