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The 21st century parent

John was a 43 year-old sales manager at a large company. He's married and has three children, ages 7, 9 and 12. His wife works part-time as a nursing assistant, and they both do as much as they can to parent their children well.

John has developed serious doubts about his ability to be an effective parent in the last couple of years. All of his kids are involved in after school activities, and his demands at work are greater than they've ever been.

His lack of time with his kids bothers him a great deal, but he doesn't dare take more time off from work. He's also bothered by his inability to get his kids to listen to him, and he's resorted to yelling and threats as measures of discipline.

John's family seems rushed all the time, and the routines in the morning and at bedtime are almost always chaotic. He often doesn't have the energy when he gets home from work to spend quality time with his kids, and he feels his relationships with them are growing more distant. In particular, he's struggling with his teenage daughter's behavior. John feels he has little in common with her at this stage in their lives.

Welcome to the life of an American parent in the 21st century
There are many reasons that parenting today is more difficult than in years past. Here are a few of them:

  • The typical, middle income married couple family works 3,885 hours -- that's an increase of 247 hours, or nearly six weeks, more than their counterparts 10 years ago.
  • Working couples lost an average of 22 hours a week of family and personal time between 1969 and 1999.
  • In the last three decades, American families are eating 33 percent fewer meals together as a family.
  • In 1990, the American advertisers spent 100 million dollars advertising to children. In 2000, they spent 2 billion dollars in their advertising to children.

Alvin Toffler once said, "Parenthood remains the greatest single preserve of the amateur." For too long, parents have taken on the most important job they'll ever have with little or no training.

Parents can't afford to be amateurs anymore. They must arm themselves with the knowledge, support, and discipline needed to parent their kids effectively.

They must take responsibility for the impact their parenting will have on their children. And they must recognize that in today's culture, their kids need them to be there more than ever.

In John's case, hiring a coach helped him to:

  • Simplify the life of his family, so they could spend more time together
  • Learn positive discipline skills, so the daily routines went more smoothly and there were fewer conflicts
  • Develop a plan to put in place when he got angry, so he wouldn't do or say something he'd regret later
  • Learn how to be less judgmental with his daughter, and to find specific ways to be more connected with her.

Though parenthood can be extremely difficult and challenging at times, it can also be incredibly fulfilling and enjoyable. Most of us would never think of starting a new career without the information and training necessary to be effective. Do we think our job as a parent is less important?

Effective parenting skills can be learned by anyone who cares enough to commit to them, and by anyone who knows the importance of their parenting to the future of their kids.

It's time for parents to get some help. It's the best investment they'll ever make.

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