No matter how tired or fed up you are with how things are going at the office or store or school, or wherever you might work, if the person who signs your paycheck walks in, somehow there is a little reserve of goodwill saved up, just for him or her.
From out of thin air comes a smile or a sudden lilt in the voice, or a very optimistic assessment of the absolute disaster staring everyone in the face. This good-natured version of you is like a can of emergency survival instinct, always there somewhere, just waiting to be used.
This is the source to which you might consider turning when you are completely fed up with your daughter, when she has found your last nerve and is standing on it, when you realize you have memorized the phone number of the private military academy over in the next county.
But instead of raising your voice to her, instead of saying some things you may regret later, instead of reminding her that you brought her into this world, instead of embarrassing her in front of the entire family, even though that is precisely what she deserves, just imagine . . .
What would you do if your boss suddenly walked into the room? Hmmm. Would you pull him by the earlobe? Would you stick your finger in his face and hiss like a snake? Would you ask him the same question over and over? Would you ask him the same question over and over? Would you call him a name? Would you call him by his full name in a loud voice with lots of extra pronunciation on all the consonants?
Probably not. Not if you wanted to keep your job.
To your boss you would show complete respect and consideration. To your boss you would give the benefit of the doubt. There is no concession you could not make, and no compromise that could not be reached.
Your daughter should get the same respect, if not more. Why not let her meet the kind and considerate you hiding there behind the angry and frustrated version? Why not introduce her to the resilient spirit who always finds a reason to laugh at a situation, regardless of how dire?
Let her say hello to the forgiving optimist who makes a self- deprecating remark to lighten the mood, and makes the whole room laugh. Let her hang out with the practical gamer who always finds a way to look at the bright side of things.
Here is a parenting tip, Treat her like your boss.
Excerpted from Parking Lot Rules & 75 Other Ideas for Raising Amazing Children by Tom Sturges Copyright © 2008 by Tom Sturges. Excerpted by permission of Ballantine Books, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.