The Problem With Being The Fun Parent

Last weekend Karen left the nest so that she could go to visit her brother’s growing family. It was a great trip for her, and there was nowhere else in the entire world I wanted her to be.

The problem is that when momma is gone the house goes crazy. I am not nearly the parent Karen is, and I’m horrible at some of those parenting staples: bathing, eating, and reminding them to sleep. While that is not necessarily news to anyone who knows me, one of the choices I made on this adventure was to be the “fun” parent. You know the parent I’m talking about: the one who is up for anything, who takes the kids places, who lets them sleep in the room with me.

Being the fun parent worked great! Harmony was up, and I was riding high on the hog. But the downside to being the fun parent is that you can’t do it forever; well you can’t do it forever and have good kids.

I was reminded of this when Karen came back and everything was in disarray. The kids were out of their routines, they hadn’t eaten well (but they did eat – just to be clear), and there was no clean laundry.

When we settle for short-term victories, like being the fun parent, we often sacrifice the long-term goals. I’ve noticed the same thing is true in leadership. When we let ourselves (as leaders) give in to every whim of the people we are leading, we essentially are saying that the long-term goals aren’t of value.

Healthy relationships require common goals. Relational leadership is staying committed to the goals even when they aren’t the fun things to do.