Dads should approach Mother's Day and mom's birthday as opportunities to teach their kids what it means to treat someone well — and how to pull that off. Same goes for moms on Father's Day: Set yourself up as a coach, offering starter ideas or just the notion that it's time to do something special for mom or dad, and see where the kids take it. They'll have great ideas and there will be more excitement around the day if they help plan the treat. You can insert grown-up wisdom where needed (a gift, or the choice to buy favorite pastries for breakfast rather than cook if that's more doable, etc.) Making a moment special for someone else is a great social skill, and it should start at home.
— Cindy Dampier
Of course. The very existence of the little rug rats is what makes it "Mother's Day." Without their presence, it'd be just another Sunday, no? Involve them, show them it's a special day for mom and explain why. Then try to teach them that being nice and helpful is a 365-day-a-year proposition, not just one Sunday in May.
— Bill Hageman
Heck, yes. She ain't my mom, as I communicated to the lads at an early age. Beginning with crappy handmade cards (still locked safely away in my wife's memories box) and moving up to collaborative meals created under dad's watchful eye, helpful chores (90 minutes of weed-pulling means more to her than a new pair of earrings) and actual gifts (with dad input), I made it clear that this day is my sons' responsibility. And I let them see what I'm doing for my mom, so they understand that this is a lifetime obligation.
— Phil Vettel
Bless dad's heart, really, for making sure mom gets her due. But unless they're infants, kids need to do the heavy lifting.
"I see parents who act like a cross between a butler, a Sherpa, a concierge, an ATM, the secret police and a talent agent," says clinical psychologist Wendy Mogel, author of "The Blessing of a Skinned Knee" (Scribner). "Then they're disappointed and annoyed when kids act entitled and don't notice that Mother's Day is coming up."
Same goes for Father's Day, of course. An alternative, Mogel suggests: Offer gentle reminders that holidays (and birthdays too) are approaching and let the kids' creativity take over.
"We all need a spiritual calendar that reminds us to mark these times with dignity and grace: Let's think about mom, let's think about dad," Mogel says. "Obviously it will vary by the mother's tastes, but do any activity that day that the mother has been longing to do and everyone has been dragging their feet about.
"The only rule for kids, I think, is whatever they do, they do it without complaining," Mogel says.
And don't be afraid to lay down the law.
"We're so used to this hyper focus on fostering our kids' delight and smoothing the path for them all the time," Mogel says. "Parents live in constant terror that a child will be unhappy or frustrated or disappointed or feel any anguish or lonesome or feel not the center of things — all of which are terribly good for them. Mother's Day is a good chance for it to be about mom."
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You and your high schooler are invited to 8,000 graduation parties (seemingly). Is it bad form to skip some? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Find "The Parent 'Hood" page on Facebook, where you can post your parenting questions and offer tips and solutions for others to try.