Skip to main content

Parenting & The Hard-Easy Principle

By Stephen C. Schultz

The sun was peaking over the snow capped mountain. The morning sky was awash in a brilliant amber color. Mornings often bring an unexpected gift.

For some odd reason, my 15 year old daughter Emma and her friend Ramzie enjoy having me drive them to school so they don’t have to ride the bus. I don’t really mind, it is fun hearing them talk about their days in high school. They tell me that most of all, they like “70’s on 7”, the 1970’s music channel on the satellite radio in my car. So, as the typical awkward dad, I talk about and share stories of my time as a teen listening to the likes of Led Zeplin, Boston, Van Halen, Journey etc, etc, etc!

As we were winding our way through town, I happened to hear an infomercial talking about a local radio program that will be discussing the benefits of walking to school vs riding the bus. My focus immediately shifted to the radio since I happened to have two anti-bus culprits right there with me.

The report continued to mention that more and more students are riding to school even when they are within walking distance. Parents are understandably concerned about safety, but the safety risks probably don’t outweigh the health benefits; both physically and emotionally. Over the last twenty years, the number of students riding to school has doubled.

It was mentioned that:
  • Walking improves academic performance
  • Walking provides life experience
  • Walking gets children and teens outside
  • Walking provides consistent daily exercise

So, immediately the question flashes across my mind,

“Why am I driving them to school?”

Maybe it’s time for the old dad lecture about the “Hard - Easy Principle”. I became familiar with the Hard-Easy Principle while growing up in Eugene, Oregon. This principle was made popular by legendary University of Oregon Track & Field coach Bill Bowerman. He would have his athletes alternate their work outs with a hard day and then an easier day. This would give the body time to rejuvenate after a tough workout.

Over the years, I have modified the “Hard-Easy Principle” just a bit as I have shared it with my kids. It has morphed into a principle I share when there needs to be a discussion around homework, baseball or volleyball practice, doing family chores, dealing with teachers or navigating adolescent communication in high school.

My version simply says that anytime we have something to accomplish or get done, if we take the “Easy” way first, it will be “Hard” later.  If we do the “Hard” thing first, it will be “Easy” later.

For example, it’s hard to come home from school and study. It’s easy to have a snack and watch TV. So, if you watch TV and sit around not doing homework, it’s much harder to get it done later. If we do the hard thing first, it’s usually easier later. This principle applies to many situations in life.

So, I had this conversation with my daughter and her friend. They listened politely and even rolled their eyes once or twice. Did the discussion sink in? I don’t know. Is it a principle they will apply to their lives? I don’t know that either.

Some parents find themselves in the painful situation of having a child head down a destructive path. In those situations, it's a difficult and emotional process to finally realize that there needs to be some type of intervention. At some point, you know in your heart that simply waiting for them to "grow up" will not change the course your son or daughter is on. Fortunately, there are options for families and the earlier the intervention, the better chance parents have of realizing a cost effective home based solution. Should there be a need for a more clinically enhanced structure, programs like RedCliff Ascent, Discovery Ranch for Girls, Discovery Ranch for Boys, Discovery Academy and Oxbow Academy may be an appropriate solution.

Parenting is a funny thing. Parents teach the lessons that have influenced their lives in one way or another throughout their life. They want to share the knowledge and experience so their children can learn as well. But, we all know, many of life's lessons we learn through our own experience. For parents of teens, this reality is full of mixed emotions. It seems the “Hard-Easy Principle” never goes away.


Popular posts from this blog

The Young Boy and the Rattlesnake

By Stephen C. Schultz (Editors note: This is a story used in a Wilderness Treatment Program for Young Adults . Many come to this program having struggled with substance abuse and interacting with unsavory friends.)   Many years ago there was a young Native American who lived in the very land you are residing in. He decided to seek wisdom by journeying to the top of Indian Peak. As he approached the base of the mountain he came across a rattlesnake that slithered beside him. The snake coiled as if to strike and the young boy moved back quickly in fear of being struck by the snake’s deadly venom. At that instant the snake spoke to the boy saying, “Don’t be afraid of me, I mean you no harm. I come to you to ask a favor. I see that you are about to traverse to the top of Indian Peak and was hoping that you may be willing to place me in your satchel so that I don’t have to make the long journey alone.” The young boy surprised by the snake’s request quickly responded b

Navigating the Highway of Healthy Communication

By Stephen C. Schultz “I was on the road in my car last week. It was a long stretch of highway where it is easy for your speed to creep up. I looked in the review mirror and saw blue and red flashing lights. I watched as the right hand of the officer extended to lift a microphone to his mouth. He was obviously running my plates. I glanced at my driver’s side mirror and observed as his door opened and he stepped around the edge of the door and closed it with a single, fluid motion. In a cautious and calculated manner, with his right hand resting about hip high on his revolver and his left hand carrying some paper, he was at my door in ten easy strides.” Ok…now that you have read that first paragraph, what are you feeling? Did reading that stir any emotions? Could you relate to my experience? How many of you are smiling? You’ve been there…right? You know the feeling. Often there is dread. Sometimes there is fear. Most times there is frustration because you were just goin

Video Games, Anxiety and ADHD - Free Family Resources

 By Stephen C. Schultz Video Games, Anxiety and ADHD - Is there a common theme? Aloft Transitions Home for Young Adults This is simply a complimentary resource guide for parents of teens and young adults who struggle with ADHD, Anxiety and Gaming. ADHD:   • Russell Barkley,  Taking Charge of ADHD • Hallowell & Ratey,  Delivered from Distraction • Harvey Parker,  The ADD Hyperactivity Workbook for Parents, Teachers, & Kids • Bradley & Giedd,  Yes, Your Teen Is Crazy!: Loving Your Kid Without Losing Your  Mind  • Gurian, Michael,  The Minds of Boys Saving Our Sons from Falling Behind in School and  Life, 2005. • Hanna, Mohab,  Making the Connection: A Parents’ Guide to Medication in AD/HD •  (Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder) • • (American Academy of Pediatrics) • (American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry) Young Adult caring for new baby calf Anxiety: The following websites