I cracked myself up today, which, as you all know, happens to me all the time at CCHQ. This afternoon, while I was working on an advice column about sibling rivalry for makinglifebetter.com, I thought about a “parenting strategy” my mom and dad used for taking care of such issues in a family with 8 kids:
They got us boxing gloves.
Yup, 8 kids, 2 sets of gloves and an actual boxing ring. Then, they’d go out to dinner and we’d pummel each other. Brother against brother. Sister v. Sister. And , of course, epic battles between the sexes. Mano a man in our Lanz nightgowns with our brothers, our tormentors. Wow, did we work it out in that ring! Are you laughing a little, too? Ah, those were the days. Well, certainly the days before such phrases as “parenting strategies” anyway!
I’m not saying my parents’ solution to the constant bickering and competitiveness was perfect. First of all, as the youngest, I can tell you that I got hurt. A lot. Like ears -ringing- and -fuzzy- vision kind of hurt that I am sure lowered my SATs a few points . My brother Brendan’s 3 years and 50 pounds were quite an advantage in the ring, even if he did agree to fight on his knees. But there was a simplicity to their strategy you have to admire: work it out amongst yourselves.
Ultimately, that has become my strategy with my boys, minus the gloves. I try to avoid entering any fracas until the situation is dire or medical care is necessary. Do they fight? Yes. Are they competitive? Yes? Is there a perfect way to handle every incident in a fair and just manner? Of course not! Who has the time!
So, instead, I hang back, moderate if necessary, and give my kids the same advice my brother Dick use to give before I headed into the ring: Get low and brace for impact.
Embracing my Chaos,
More advice from makinglifebetter.com: