Using Your Parental Toolbelt

Child with toolbeltWhen I started this blog, I was systematically listing the parallels I perceive between parenting and management. They are many and varied, but after talking with a young mother of two the other day, I thought this one was definitely worth re-visiting. This is basic advice I would give any couple, new parents or parents to be.

In every job, there are a few basic tools.

As a title insurance escrow officer, I made it my business to make the closing an educational process. In the 80’s that was a rather risky thing to do, because I was closing adjustable rate mortgages with steep initial buy downs that lacked caps on the negative amortization. Those things eventually changed, but it did not change the fact that even when the government enacted 125% caps on negative amortization and 1 or 2% caps per year on how much the payment could adjust; buyers were still going to be in for a payment shock. I explained that their payment could go up hundreds of dollars between one year and the next, exclusive of what taxes did independently of their mortgage. They were still blinded by house lust and signed away. We all know what happened a few years later when interest rates went higher than we had ever seen them go before.

What does this have to do with parenting, you ask? Here’s what I learned that I took home with me. “Invest in the hard stuff up front and the way will be easier later.”

Well, that sounds pretty darned obvious, doesn’t it? But it isn’t easy. Just as it isn’t easy to save up a down payment large enough to avoid paying extra for mortgage insurance or interest buy downs, or picking a house that isn’t your dream home because it is the one you can really afford with only one income; it isn’t easy to do the hard stuff up front with your kids.

Why?

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Squid-Po-Po and Your Kids

GirlsWhen our daughters were little we introduced the concept of quid pro quo to them, explaining that it was a fun way of saying “give a little to get a little.”

We talked about it quite a bit and I was amazed at how early they understood that there is a balance inherent in all relationships and when we abuse it or take advantage of it, there are consequences we may not like. I don’t remember the particulars of the conversation, but Daughter 1 cracked us up one night, telling us a story about her day and saying very seriously, “You know Mommy, like squid-po-po!” We finally figured out what she was saying, and from that day on it has been a family catch phrase. Coincidentally, this is the child who is growing up to be a lawyer!

What does “squid-po-po” have to do with raising respectful children? How can we use it to help keep a good balance through the different stages from caregiving to parenting to mentoring? These were part of a conversation I had today with my friend and new parent, Hjalmar, and here are some concepts and strategies I shared with him.

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