The Business of Parenting

Lately I feel like I am in business with my young son. Let me explain.

(Note – my sone was eight when I originally wrote and published this piece)… As my beloved boy goes through, what I will lovingly call a “feisty” stage, I find myself bargaining and negotiating with him more and more. Sure, I could get mad and lay down the law and be upset with him as he goes through this rough period or… I could find a creative way to deal with it. I choose to be creative.

I’m dealing with him the same way I would deal with any adult in my daily business. By talking and communicating and working through problems then ultimately coming to a happy solution and compromise.

A little more reading time equals a little more iPad time. A few more green vegetables equals a little later bedtime. A few more chores around the house equals more play dates with friends on the weekends. You see the pattern here.

Ultimately, he doesn’t have to make any of these deals and he doesn’t have to give in at all but he also sees that if he doesn’t step up, it gets him nothing. However if he does work with me, he gets what he wants. And on the flip side, I don’t have to give in to a bad deal either. We both have “skin in the game” so we both work for a resolution. Pretty simple.

At first I was a little bothered by these nonstop negotiations but I then thought why not make it a good thing? Why not teach my son the art of negotiating? Why not teach him the benefits that come from good deals and bartering and working for what you want? After all, these are skills that he will take and use for his entire life.

That is when it also dawned on me that great parenting skills really do mirror great business skills. And I truly believe they can make parenting just a tad bit easier. Why not you use all of your years of training and communication and business skills with your most important asset – your children? Many of us work 40, 50, 60, or more hours per week fine tuning these work place skills so why are make life a little easier when we get home from work and use the same skills with little Johnny or little Julie?

In business, we always get farther if we work “with” our fellow employees and if we encourage them in a positive way to do better work – instead of demanding that they do better work or making something an absolute.

Encouragement and reward is always a better way to get anything in life as opposed to domination, intimidation, and making demands. It’s human nature. And it is certainly the nature of our children. My son always does better what I work with him as a fellow human being – even though I am the “boss” (i.e. the parent). He knows who is in charge and he respects my authority but not because I rule over him. He respects me because I respect him.

Which leads me back to exactly why great parenting can mirror great business. Try respecting your children and negotiating with them for small, daily, simple things in life. I bet you will get more of what you want and it will be less stressful on you… and your child.


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