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It's hard to practice what you preach
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Two of our grandchildren spent the night at our house last night. At some point in the evening, I suddenly realized that an alien had taken over my brain. Either that, or I’d developed late-onset multiple personality disorder.
On one occasion, we were watching the movie the kids had requested, but instead of sitting quietly and watching, they were both bouncing around, playing with our dog and engaging in general shenanigans. If they’d been my kids, I’d have simply shut off the television and made it perfectly clear that it was not coming back on. Instead, I did nothing. Eventually, they calmed down. See? It’s no big deal.
On another occasion, my 5-year-old grandson refused to drink the orange juice he had requested to drink with his pancakes. I just looked at him and said something completely ineffectual, like, “Oh, that’s not nice.” My wife, on the other hand, sat him down with his juice and told him he couldn’t get up until he had finished it. Three minutes later, he was handing me an empty glass. No question about it, she did the right thing.
And not only did I ignore their misbehavior (they’re actually very well-behaved, but they are kids), I became a complete pushover. When our grandson asked for chocolate syrup on his pancakes, my wife said “No, you have enough stuff on your pancakes” at the same time I said, “Okay, I’ll get it.”
At some point during the grandkids’ overnight stay, I asked myself, “Am I the same John Rosemond, draconian parenting expert, who is relied upon by thousands of parents seeking to raise children who have accepted that the world is not a bowl of cherries by the time they go to kindergarten? What’s happening to me?!”
And then, the epiphany: I suddenly understood why divorced fathers turn into “Disneyland dads” on the relatively infrequent occasions they get to be with their kids. Why their kids come back to their mothers with armloads of stuff they, the moms, disapprove of.
It’s quite simple: When one is only able to spend time with his or her children or grandchildren every so often, one wants only to create positive memories.
I mean, I’m already thinking of how I can create even better memories the next time they spend the night. Hot fudge sundaes for breakfast anyone?

A family psychologist, Rosemond answers parents’ questions on his Web site at
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