Recently, I had a message or request arrive in my e-mail inbox—a mother of four asking for recommendations for books that would help her “wild” children learn about rules and regulations and how to get themselves under control. Alas, that really isn’t the way it is done. It is up to us as parents—even if we are over-stretched single parents—to get our lives, our children, and our families under control. Or, at least to do our very best to take the helm and steer our worlds!
I do have compassion, I understand how it can seem easier just to throw up our hands and trust that everything will resolve itself—but our children need us to set the tone, the boundaries, and the expectations. I am NOT a terribly authoritarian-style parent, but I am organized and definitely the one who is “in charge” of my family. If I was not, I cannot imagine what sort of chaos, mess and general malaise would result. I imagine my children might be “wild” as well.
So, my advice? Take control—decide what sort of systems you need to have in place and do a thorough house cleaning—both with the physical space and with the personal expectations. There need to be ground rules in place that we set that dictate how our children can talk to us and to each other, whether they do chores, manage their own rooms, etc. Even the most chaotic life can be brought to a place of order.
I cannot help but think of the scene in the movie “Mary Poppins”—Mary Poppins arrives at the household when it is in complete chaos—the children have been allowed to be messy and misbehave and her first item of business is to get everything in order; to make things “spit spot.” She sets the tone and the expectations without yelling, berating or chastising—and we single parents can do that as well.