They Don’t Need a Lecture. They Need This.

Your kids screwed up. They failed a test. They forgot their homework. They hit their brother. They scratched your car and lied about it. They got caught drinking. They got caught cheating. 

Worse, yet, you have talked to them about these things so many times

The author John Steinbeck was going through this with his son Tom as he wrote East of Eden. His son was not taking school seriously. He was acting out. As he wrote in his diary, his wife thought he needed a lecture about this. Steinbeck, then in the middle of writing about two very different, unruly sets of sons in his book, knew that wasn’t quite right. “He needs more than that,” he reminded himself. “He needs infinite patience and discipline.” 

Not only is that what your kids need, it’s what we all need. Patience and discipline. Kindness combined with firmness. Nobody wants to be lectured. Nobody wants to be nagged. What we need is to be understood and held accountable.

Think of your own troubles as a kid. When you were acting out, when you weren’t taking school seriously, when you were getting into trouble. Did getting yelled at help? What you really wanted—what you needed—was for someone to see why you were doing this. You needed someone to guide you back to the right path. You needed someone to help you realize the consequences of not being on that right path. Patience and discipline. That was what you needed. But did you get it? No… and think of what it cost. 

So give those things to your kids. They deserve it. Give what you didn’t get.

P.S. This was originally sent on January 12, 2021. Sign up today for the Daily Dad’s email and get our popular 11 page eBook, “20 Things Great Dads Do Everyday.”

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