Best Advice My Dad Ever Gave Me

Something someone said the other day made me think of the priceless advice my dad gave me years ago. It was vital. His words in that instance are words I have defaulted to many times over the years. They’re powerful and I have shared them countless times.

Lets go back in time…

You see I married young and had two kiddos right off the bat.  (And NO. I don’t regret that one little bit.  It means I’m a young, and awesome granma now!  Yes!!!)  But, I digress.  Back to the story….  Eventually my hubby began attending trade school classes two nights a week. Which left me as the sole, young parental contact for my preschool aged kids for two whole days each week.

Hubby would leave for work well before the kids awoke for the day.  Then, due to time limitations, would stay in town after work until school began.  By the time he would get home on those nights the kids would already be fast asleep in their beds.

Those were LONG days for me.  My little “rays of sunshine” would stretch my patience and try my temper regularly.  (Spoiler alert!  They lived and grew to be amazing adults.  And I never even had to deal with CPS.  Really.  Whew!  Lol)  Anyway, those were some trying days.  I counted to ten many, MANY times.  Yes, mommy herself landed in time-out a lot.  A LOT.  Trust me.

The Camel’s Back…

On one such day I was struggling big time!  My little hooligans (umm, angels) were having quite a day.  I’m not sure what was going on really….  Full moon?  Too much sugar (bad momma)?  PMS???  Maybe momma didn’t have enough of a sugar hit herself???  There’s NO telling what the real issue was.

I do know I was reaching the point of questioning my own sanity.  I mean, seriously, how do tiny precious little humans have that much power and stamina anyway?!?!?!  And smarts.  Let’s not forget their smarts.  They are surprisingly brilliant in how to attempt to get their way.

I can’t remember exactly how I did it but I exhausted them with the explicit intent to hopefully get them to fall asleep just a wee bit earlier.  And, praise Jesus, it worked! Whew!  I was mentally exhausted.

Yet, I sat there unable to enjoy the peace and silence as I contemplated what on earth I could do differently to ensure I won the “king of the hill” battle when my kids pushed back.  (I have no idea WHY humans love to push boundaries. But that’s a whole other blog post.)

Anyway, after contemplating for a while, a brilliant thought struck me.  Dad!  We never ignored his “Dad” voice.  Yep. You know the voice.  You can probably hear your own dad’s “Dad voice” in your head right now.  I wanted to know his secret. Hopefully, he had a secret.  Right?!?  He had to.

Dad’s Brilliant Advice…

So, I grabbed the phone and called my parents house.  (Yes, this was way back in the day of the awesome “land-line” phones.  You know, the 90s.  Lol)  They were both shocked when I asked to speak to my dad directly.  Once he was on the phone, I didn’t mess around.  I told him I needed his advice.  Then asked him how he got four kids to mind when I’m having trouble with getting two kids to mind.  In his quiet, confident manner, he told me his secret.

Its brilliant really.  And oh, so obvious.  But, somehow it slips past even the brightest minds.  It’s because it takes a strong fortitude to pull off.  (Major big kahonas on some occasions!)  He simply replied, and I quote, “Do what you say you’re gonna do.”   Ummm…and?  That’s it???  Really?  His, reply?  “Yes, that’s it.”  But, it’s really more than just being honest.

As we talked he stated kids are smart.  They can sense a liar quickly.  And they WILL act accordingly.  My dad used the example of parents threatening to kill their kids if they don’t do (fill in the blank).  No they won’t!  (Well, most parents won’t kill their kids.)  And the kids learn that.  Day in and day out, the kids hear empty threat after empty threat.  Their rooms may not be clean, homework not done, etc, but they have definitely learned their parent is a liar.  Possibly a screaming, cussing, hot-headed human; or even a sweet, soft-spoken, pleading human; but still a liar.  Don’t be that parent teaching that to your kid!  Don’t.  Just, don’t.

A Word of Caution….

I do need to warn you though.  Be careful what you threaten as a consequence or punishment, or even as a reward.  It WILL be challenged.  I promise!  And, most likely, it will have to be enforced.  (This is where those kahonas will come into play.)  Remember, you HAVE TO do as you say you’re going to do.  No ifs, ands, or buts.

This is where the rubber meets the road.  THIS is where they get to learn if you are a liar or a person of your word.  (They used to say a man was no more than their word. If you couldn’t trust a man’s word, then they weren’t worth keeping around.)  How exactly do you want them to see you, to know you, to portray you to others?

Here’s an example for you.  In the early years, it was my oldest that most challenged me.  As my kids grew, the younger one took over the nemesis position in my entourage.  It seemed every rule I made was challenged eventually.  I’d lay down the law with an “or else”.  And…. They’d push through it.

Threaten to take away “going to the park”?  Guess what, suddenly nobody is going to the park.  All because Nemesis 2.0 chose NOT to do as they were repeatedly told, and they aren’t old enough to stay home alone while the rest of us go have fun.  Threaten “no movie outing”?  Yep.  You’ve got it.  It doesn’t matter if it’s a rare treat in our house.  Now NOBODY can go enjoy that new movie while it’s in theaters.

So, again, be cautious and very aware of what comes out of your mouth.  You will be called on it and challenged at some point.  Be ready.  It IS coming.  (I can almost see and hear kids everywhere do that sinister laugh and wringing of the hands like the cartoon villains do while they’re plotting their next attack.  Just kidding.  Maybe….)

The Long Haul…

When you change your parental tactics it may seem hard at first.  But, over time, the kids will learn, and so will you.  It will get easier.  They will come to realize when you say something that’s it.  That.  Is.  What.  You.  Mean.  And THAT is the secret to my dad’s mad parenting skillz.  It’s so surprisingly simple that most people disregard it.  But, it is vital.  And, it’s obviously vital to all areas of life, not just parenting.

Hopefully, that helps you with your kiddos, or your job, or friends, or whatever.  Do you have any priceless advice to share?  What was the best advice you received from your dad, or your mom?  I’d love to hear it.  Please, do share your nuggets of wisdom in the comments below.  Inquiring minds want to know!

As always, thanks for stopping by! Talk to you soon!


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