Parenting | By Randy Cale, Ph.d



ABC’s of Parenting
Preparing for a balanced, less chaotic school year

As book bags are packed and schedules fill up, many parents approach the school year with a combination of relief (that the summer is over) and growing trepidation about the year ahead. Anxiety over the upcoming school year can stem from a multitude of causes…take your pick! How hectic will your family’s schedule be? Will your child make the team? How will they perform in school? What battles over the daily routine will ensue?

Unfortunately, these angst‐ridden parents are mostly following the herd with the chaotic and unsuccessful strategies that come with it. There is another way!

The Renegade Parent Takes Control!

A renegade parent has abandoned many of the principles and habits of herd‐based parenting and consequently is focused on other daily activities. We can follow their example and adopt some practical strategies to foster a calm, supportive lifestyle.

The renegades are focused only on things they can control. Things come up, but when you have a game plan in place designed to alleviate stress from anticipated causes, unexpected challenges are not as disruptive as they otherwise could be.

The Renegade Game Plan for School

1. The renegade is prepared and starts early

If you are compelled to become a renegade, start now. Schedules, routines, and expectations should not be adjusted on the first day of school; rather, they should be outlined in advance.

Have a chat with your kids. Tell them matter‐of‐factly that there are going to be changes. Your expectations of them and what you, as a family, expect to gain (no more nagging, arguing or last‐minute disruptions). Instead, a new plan will be in place, and it begins with…

2. The renegade intentionally chooses a balanced schedule

The renegade parent holds dearly to the intention of a value‐based, balanced lifestyle. They will not give up Sundays at the grandparents’ house for private coaching lessons or a chance to be on the traveling team. They will not be running in five directions each day, adding more and more activity simply because others are doing it or even because their kids want to do it. The criteria they use for a “yes” or “no” comes from their own inner clarity about what brings joy in life, as well as success.

More Does Not Equal More…But Equals Less?

How does this work? It sounds completely contradictory, but the facts firmly remain that more activity does not equal a better life or more opportunity for children. More and more activity, when excessive, only brings a stressful, incessantly competitive lifestyle that strips away self‐esteem and leaves no room for the softer values of life. The renegade parent would rather teach their children to love and care for a neighbor or friend, rather than make the first string on the team. They would rather volunteer for a weekend than spend nights in hotel rooms with their kids as they compete in traveling teams and groups day after day.

3. The renegade parent is imminently focused on the practical.

The renegade parent is clear about the authentic requirements for success and happiness. The most important of these is fostering the habit of doing the difficult stuff before you do the enjoyable: the “work, then play” formula.

When your children get home from their day, they get a brief break ‐ maybe five or 10 minutes. After that, it’s time for homework and responsibilities. This is a “No Activity Zone” – no screens (except for homework), no outside play, no toys, no friends visiting, no extended conversations. Simply put, nothing of enjoyment or distraction…until their work is done.

This is another way a renegade parent takes control of the controllable. Instead of nagging, yelling, arguing, and trying to push their children to do their homework, they instead focus on what can be controlled easily – the goodies!

Sure, your child may initially push back and refuse to do their work. If so, let it be. But strictly maintain that there’s no play until the work is done. It’s critical that you ignore all the whining, complaining, and drama coming your way. Hang on – it will go away, and they will come around.

4. The renegade parent believes in best effort

This is essential. Many children will seek the easy path and do shoddy work if allowed. Instead, require their best effort before releasing the goodies. Don’t give in after a full hour of whining and then three minutes of work. Remain calm, and hold them accountable to solid, best effort.

Be patient and allow for some resistance and struggles. But as a renegade parent, control the goodies, and wait for the leverage to take effect. It will work!

Dr. Randy Cale offers practical guidance for a host of parenting concerns. For more information visit


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