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Parenting's Path of Least Resistance

"We can do this the easy way or the hard way..."

This line has been spoken in countless guy/action movies. The statement conveys the obvious: Choose the path of least resistance or choose otherwise and suffer. It is a threat issued with civility. We all watch sitting on the edge of our seats knowing that when threatened the good guy or bad guy will always choose the hard way. Our heart races as we watch the good guy prevail or the bad guy go down...

The same scenario plays out daily in the parenting experience.

In my house I'm the quiet one. Thanks to my own childhood of listening to my parents yell and scream at each other and me I absolutely abhor shouting (except for those few moments when I'm doing it, and even then). How cruelly ironic it is that I would marry into a family that has elevated yelling and screaming to an art form. But my being quiet doesn't mean I'm not effective. There are people who get loud when angered and then there are those who get quiet. I fall into the latter group. I have happily walked down the street dragging my daughter kicking and screaming because I gave her the choice and she chose wrong. Behind my back they call me old, cold, crotchety and merciless at my house. But no one is going to give me high blood pressure. Especially my children.

I'm also good for manipulating situations days in advance. For example, a couple mornings ago I asked my teen to take out the downstairs trash, something he should've done on Monday evening, the night before trash day. It's his job under our roof. I politely suggested, didn't raise my voice, didn't lecture and ended it with "I hope you don't intend on leaving this here for the week." Considering this boy wants an iPhone, nothing that costs less than $100, $100 just because, and while we're at it the world on a platter complete with queso dipping sauce. I just knew the trash would be gone instantly. But he is a teen and I gave him an option. Surprisingly but not so surprisingly, he sidestepped the two trash cans repeatedly. He did so even though I left them in the doorway to the garage and even though they began to smell.

I shrugged my shoulders. It was only a matter of time before the inevitable occurred.

Inevitable came at 7 am this morning while I was showering. Through the bathroom walls and over the running water I heard blood curdling shouts about the trash along with some random threats that all began with my son's name. Then the house alarm went off.

After the smoke cleared I smiled to myself, shook my head and shrugged my shoulders for the second time in a week. He and I both knew Mom was going to tear into him at the most inopportune time. All he had to do was what I asked, when I asked.

The Bottom Line: No good comes from when you opt not to choose the path of least resistance. Although typically neither option is attractive, the rarely-used path of least resistance is almost always the best path to take.*

*Unless of course you are choosing to break out of your comfort zone and go off on your own to march to the beat of your own drum or that of a different drummer. But this is a different context entirely.

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