A friend of mine commented that he was having to make some “tough dad decisions.” I don’t know what they were, but I do know that as parents we all make some sort of decision regarding our children each and every day. Sometimes the decision might be as simple as to whether the 2 and 4 year olds should get to watch an extra hour of Toot and Puddle. Then, at times the decision-making might be as difficult as to whether your 15 year old needs to lose most of his privileges for quite a while for blatant disrespect.
No decision made on the behalf of our children is very easy. For the most part, we should always be thinking of the long term, whether for the day or years down the road. (How will what I say or do in regards to this child affect them in the future?) Its just too easy sometimes to ignore bad behavior thinking that it will go away. I have found by years of experience that ignoring bad behavior not only will not make the behavior go away, but might even harm the child. Think about it. Ignoring a child’s bad behavior tells that child that you not only don’t notice them but don’t care enough to spend the time necessary to correct their rotten actions. Without the correction and direction that a child needs they may stray so far on the wrong path that any hope of helping them is lost. Ignoring a child’s bad behavior is just plain neglect! I know parents and grandparents that are applying this ignoring technique thinking that they are doing the right thing when the right thing is “nipping the bad actions in the bud!” The reality of this is that some parents and grandparents are just plain terrified of their children and grandchildren —- “oh my, what if this child throws a bigger fit?”………or “goodness, what if my child or grandchild becomes afraid of me or doesn’t like me any more?” Deep down that’s what some parents are afraid of so they begin talking sweetie-pie baby-talk to the naughty child in hopes to calm the storm before it starts. Seriously!! How lame! (as my teenagers would put it) Why are these parents so wimpy about putting their foot down? Who cares if your child pitches a protest or flops into the floor and goes into what appears to be a grand-mal seizure because you had the intestinal fortitude to stand your ground? And, good grief, why in the world do you care if the little tyrant likes you right now anyway!!?? Its far more important and healthy that your child respects you! If your child has respect for you then in all likelihood they will love you also and your relationship with them will be much stronger later on. Children need to feel secure with us. They need to feel that we are strong and dependable and that we can be leaned upon as their parents. How can they feel this way about us if they don’t respect us. How can they respect you if they come to find out that they are actually the ones in control and all it takes to make you crumble is a tantrum or fear that they don’t “like you” (insert middle-school-girl-whiney tone here)! Too many American homes are far too “child centered”! What place do the parents hold in the home when the children are “running the show” so to speak?
Being a friend to our children will come down the road. Its a long process that involves cultivating respect first.
Children learn fairly quickly at very young ages how to manipulate adults and also which adults they can do this to. Ever wonder why some people just seem to have a knack with children and those children seem to always behave better with those people? Those people are not afraid of how a child will act and truly don’t care if the child likes them or not. But, those same people have a deep love and concern for children and young people. They also don’t just ignore bad behavior, they address it immediately in ways that the child will take to heart. Then there are those people that also love children but are so busy trying to win a popularity contest with them that they become pansy parents in attempts to smooth over any conflict with their child or even other children. Children may appear to love or flock to these types of people at times but rarely ever respect them or behave around them. They end up just being treated as “one of the children” by the children.
I’m not at all one of those mushy gushy baby-talking sissy mommies that sweet talks her little ones when they are about to “get out of hand” or throw down on the floor and pitch an earth shattering fit. If I have to, I take said child to their room and shut the door until the colossal tantrum is over and then apply the punishment while they are in their right minds to remember it. Tantrums, after all, are an attempt to control parents into submission. The sooner children learn that this type of manipulation is not affective for their own interests, the sooner the fits will start to dissipate.
I’m also not one of those moms that is afraid that her teenage children will stop liking her if she doesn’t agree with everything they want to do or how they react to what I say. Handing out the groundings is not pleasant for me but I do it with passion if need be. The long term benefits and lessons learned are vital to helping a teen learn that there are consequences to their actions. Unfortunately the hard knocks that life will dole out on them are far worse later. So, hopefully I can help them learn the lessons here in the love and security of home.
I love all my children dearly and would rather have their respect than a buddy-buddy type relationship with them. The truth is that I do have a great friendship with my teenagers that has come because of years of cultivating respect. They are great fun to be with and I truly enjoy being with them. I’m sure that they don’t always understand or agree with some of the hard decisions I have to make on their behalf. But, I’m also not going to lose sleep on whether or not they like what I decide. I am, however, certain that all of my children love me. Not only do they tell me so on a regular basis, but they demonstrate it in many genuine ways. They make my life an adventure and a pleasure to live. All of my children from the 20 year old to the 2 year old are a joy to be with at times and are liked and respected. Are they perfect? Nope. Neither am I. Are they people that I’m proud of? Certainly!