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Things Happier Parents Know: Family is the Place to Say Things You Don’t Mean

Photo by Luana Azevedo on Unsplash

 

I HATE SCHOOL AND I AM NOT GOING!

I’M QUITTING THE TEAM!

I AM NEVER COOKING DINNER FOR YOU PEOPLE AGAIN!

I HATE YOU YOU RUIN EVERYTHING! I AM NEVER SPEAKING TO YOU AGAIN!

IF YOU COME IM MY ROOM I WILL KILL YOU!

OUR CHILDREN ARE THE RUDEST CHILDREN IN THE WORLD!

Yeah, yeah, yeah. In this, the first week after school starts here and a fairly early week of the school year for many of us, I thought I would offer up this timely reminder that one of the great things about families is that they give us—all of us—an audience for our grandest, most melodramatic declarations of just exactly how we feel at any given, usually horrible, moment.

Because life is frustrating. School is terrible, coaches unfair, diners ungrateful, children rude and people, especially siblings and parents, just generally awful. Sometimes we need to say so. Loudly.

If you’re not the one doing the shouting, the best way to maintain your own happiness is to fall back on my favorite happier parent mantra of the moment: you don’t have to go in there. Do not meet the speaker halfway, do not react with your own anger or reasoned arguments against their plans or your feeling that perhaps you do not need to be addressed with that tone, attitude or volume.

In fact, don’t react at all. Because home is where we’re allowed to feel exactly the way you feel and announce it in the most unreasonable, ridiculous, extreme way possible, and then be very grateful that no one took you seriously.

Not that anyone will say so, of course. Because one great thing about family is that we let you say things you don’t mean, and we know you mean things you don’t say.


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I've got Ten Mantras for Happier Parents (based on the research for my book, How to Be a Happier Parent). They've worked for me—want to try them?

Hi, I’m KJ. Can I send you something?