Bringing up children is something that requires an investment of our time. Regarding that, we have no choice in the matter. But we can choose when that time will be spent.

We can choose to spend the time at an early age, when we can form in our children positive characters and attitudes which will serve them in their adult life. Or we may choose to spend the time later on in their lives — bailing them out from trouble and mischief that they may get in to when they are older. We will definitely spend time. What is up to us is when we would rather spend it.

A couple related to me that their nine-year-old daughter came home from school one day in tears. "I am never going back to school again", she said. "My teacher hates me. She punished me for something I didn’t do — my homework."

As busy parents living in the 21st century and having lots of demands on our time, we may choose to quickly push the problem away. "Just start doing your homework from now on." "Don’t worry, next year you will have a better teacher". "Do your homework, or else… " Some parents would say anything to get this problem out of the way so that they could focus on what they perceive to be more important.

The couple I was talking to had chosen to stop everything they were doing and engage in a discussion with their daughter. They chose to spend the time now.

"You seem very upset," the father said to his daughter. "Please explain to me how you feel. When you say that your teacher hates you, what exactly do you mean by that? Do you think that she hates you all the time, or only when you've done something against the school rules? Do you think the teacher was upset with you as a person, or was she upset with what you did or didn't do?" They coached her to separate the story from the meaning and the interpretation she gave to it.

After an hour and a half of open ended questions and non-judgmental conversation, the nine-year-old reached her own conclusion. "It was my actions that were disliked, not me, and I have to take responsibility for my actions." The child had made a firm decision to do her homework on time.

The parents were very touched the next morning to find an apology letter from the child addressed to the teacher, saying that from now on she will do her homework and comply with the school rules. The mother continued, "I made it my business to share this experience with my child’s teacher, and to thank her for taking interest in my child. She appreciated my support and encouragement, and we both walked away feeling that we were on the same team."

By choosing to spend the time in a proactive way now rather than opting for a quick fix, these parents made progress towards implanting in their child five important values:

1) Responsibility - "If it’s to be, it’s up to me". They insisted that their daughter take responsibility for her own action. Don’t blame others; take charge of your life.

2) Positive Self Esteem - They gave their daughter the feeling that she is important enough for both parents to stop everything in order to really listen to and focus on her.

3) Story/Interpretation Discrimination - They taught their daughter to understand the difference between the actual story that happened, and the interpretation she had given to it. Most often, as it is our interpretation that affects us rather than the story.

4) Dealing With A Problem - The child learned that it is important to deal with a problem when it is small, rather than letting it build up over a long time when it gets out of hand.

5) Trust - The child learned that when she had messed up, she can trust their parents and confide in them. She was reassured that she would not be judged, and that regardless of what happened between her and her teacher, her parents' love for her is unconditional. She learned that she need not to go elsewhere to look for that support.

Try it. It works!