Not the Center of the Universe

On Sunday, I dropped Punk #3 off at a birthday party. ¬†She walked into the yard, saw her friends and took off running. ¬†I confirmed times with the birthday girl’s mother and left. ¬†I went home and had Punk #2 help me with repairs to Coffin #1. ¬†It is Halloween season, after all.

Birthday Party Bash

Birthday Party Bash (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When I came back two hours later, they had just finished eating cake and were about to open up presents, so I got to hang around for a while.

I noticed some amazing things:

  • Fully 75% of this family’s living room was devoted to play space for the kid. ¬†As you walk in the front door, you get to see a giant pile of toys and kid-craft crap. ¬†Most of what is traditionally a gathering area was taken over by kid.
  • Of the dozen or so children who came to the party, close to half of the parents stayed. ¬†Really, is your precious little snowflake so endangered by her friends that you can’t come up with something better to do that watch her play with her friends and ignore you for two hours while under the supervision of the resident parent?
  • Clowns. ¬†Ok, it wasn’t technically a clown, but a guy named Mr. Fun who hands out whoopie cushions and entertains kids while wearing odd clothes counts as a clown, to me. ¬†I get it, you want your special little snowflake to have a memorable birthday, but if every party is big and over-the-top, which one will she remember? ¬†Maybe she’ll only remember a sense of entitlement.

I very firmly believe that children should not be raised to feel like they are the center of the universe. ¬†Not even to Mom & Dad. ¬† They need to know that we have lives and interests that aren’t them.

Mothers and fathers NEED to have lives and interests that are entirely separate from their children.  If your entire focus for 20+years is on the lives of your little brats, what is going to happen to you when they move out?  Are you prepared to abandon two decades of self-training and suddenly become your own person again?

Husbands and wives need to have time to themselves that excludes the children. ¬†When the monsters finally leave, you need to be able to have a relationship that doesn’t revolve around who spilled what where and who’s turn is it to clean it up.

Children are not–and should not be–the focal point of a household. ¬†Leave them at a birthday party. ¬†Let them find a way to entertain themselves for a few hours. ¬†Go on a date.

I promise you, letting your kids see their parents happily doing things together–even if it’s gleefully leaving them with a sitter–will do more for their long-term well-being than knowing you’re standing in the corner at a birthday party watching her fake a fart with a 25 cent toy.

Let her be independent.  Let her know that other priorities do exist for other people.  Let her fall down and scrape her knees.  Let her figure out how things work for herself.

That is life, after all. ¬†Let her live it and don’t forget to live it for yourself.

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Decision Making Made Easy

Cinderella Castle at the Magic Kingdom, Walt D...

Image via Wikipedia

Have you ever had to make a difficult decision? ¬† Not necessarily a decision that’s difficult because it’s life-changing, but a decision that’s difficult because there are two phenomenally wonderful, yet mutually exclusive options?

For example:

  • Should you put caramel or strawberry sauce on your ice cream?
  • Should you go to Disney Land or Disney World?
  • Should you subscribe to Live Real, Now by email or RSS?
  • Should you take the job with the stellar benefits package or the higher salary?

These are all real decisions that you may be called on to make.

For most decisions, there are some alternatives that are easy to discard.

MadDog 20/20 isn’t a good alternative to caramel sauce on your ice cream. ¬† The local BDSM museum probably isn’t a great choice for a family vacation. ¬†Sending me hate mail is obviously worse than subscribing.

Then you’ve got some choices that are both okay, but one is clearly better. ¬† ¬†You’ve got free airfare and hotel. ¬†Do you go to Topeka, or Paris? ¬†Neither is horribly, but I think the choice is obvious. You’re going out to dinner. ¬†McDonald’s or…nevermind, this fits the first category.

After you’ve discarded the obvious bad choices and the okay-but-not-great choices, how can you decide between what’s left?

This is the point that starts to cause stress. ¬†What if you make the wrong choice? ¬†What if you regret it forever? ¬† What if you’re still not happy? ¬†Gridlock.

The reason your stuck is because it’s not apparent which is the better choice. ¬†All of your experiences and knowledge are telling you–on some level–that the options are identical in terms of your life, happiness, and goals. ¬† ¬†It truly does not matter which one you choose. ¬†You will probably be equally happy, either way.

Given that it doesn’t matter, you have two choices for making the final decision:

  1. Pick the one you want.   The rational decision is a tie, so make it an emotional one.   Does one job match your dreams, but with a bit more risk?   Has one vacation destination been a goal since you were little?  Do it!
  2. Flip a coin. ¬†If the decision doesn’t matter, leave it to fate. ¬†That way, if it doesn’t work out, you can always blame the quarter.

The one thing you don’t want to do is wait. ¬†Failing to decide is still a decision and one that is guaranteed to keep you from being satisfied with your choice. ¬† Don’t wait until you have all of the possible information, because that kind of perfect world doesn’t exist. ¬† Get to about 85% of fully informed and run with it. ¬†You’ll usually be happier making a decision–even the wrong one–than sitting back wondering “What if I had done that?

How do you make hard decisions?

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