Hey you parents! Listen up I got something real good for ya!
Its been awhile since I have written on parenting. Some recent events have prompted me to write a post one of what I consider most of the biggest issues in parenting today-Respect.
For those who have been with me awhile you know that a major part of my life as a social worker has been teaching parenting. I did not learn what I know about this from one of my degrees or any formal education. My learning was experience in life first as a foster parent to over 40 teens, then as a parent to my 4 children.
I say this so if you do not know me, you can trust what I am saying to be true. So here we go with the issue of respect.
In every parenting class I have taught, parent I have worked with in counseling settings and in all of my 20 years in social work I have seen this issue of how to gain and maintain the respect of your child. You see, people generally err on the side of ” strictness” and yelling and screaming at their kids, or they err on the other side, which is that they roll over and become a living breathing doormat for their children.
The first type lean towards emotional abuse, and actually tear down confidence in the child, and occasionally out of sheer fear they obey…until they cannot take it anymore and they rebel completely. Those abusive parent yelling at kids all the time parties do not last long before one or both sides blow a gasket.
The second type, the doormats are the one who we see in public and listen to their teens call them names and curse and them as if they were buddies having an argument. Here is a memo to you parents this just in -YOU ARE NOT YOUR CHILD’S BUDDY! You are not there to be a punching bag or to be a negotiator with your kid. You are there to set boundaries, teach skills, and issue correction and reward depending on the circumstance.
The biggest problem with parents in the first category os their pride. They feel like if they want to verbally abuse their kid, its their right. Even though they are getting ZERO respect from the child in his heart, they cannot overcome their temper tantrums and learn to speak with their kids in a normal voice tone no matter what the issue. Here is the trick- Let the consequence do the work. The advantage of having rules is that when one is broken you can already have consequences that are natural and logical in place.
For example, if my son gets an hour per school night, after his homework to play video games, and I see that its been 2 hours and he has taken advantage of me, I do not need to get “mad” at him. i need to teach him responsibility. I would say “Hey Johnny, sorry that you chose to use 2 hours up on your video games on a school night, so tomorrow you lost your video privileges . Try to remember next time, ok buddy. I love you, goodnite.”
END OF STORY.
There is no need for some long drug out fight where you wear each other down until one gives in or up. If you have taught your child how to speak to you whether getting a reward or a consequence, giving a consequence should never be a problem.
The moral of this story is you MUST have boundaries that are very clear and understood by both sides, and you NEVER bend the rules because they cry loud, call you a rotten parent or whatever. If you have never been hated by your child at some point, you have never been a parent.
Now this next part is even more important than anything I have said, and I am going to end with it. If you never learn anything about parenting again, remember this one thing.
You MUST believe that your child wants boundaries. They WANT boundaries. We all want boundaries. If I got on the expressway tomorrow and a new sign read,
” NEW LAW-NO RULES TO THE ROAD”,
I would be scared out of my mind to drive with some of the crazy drivers out there. If I went to look at a 50th floor condo and took a walk out the sliding door to see the balcony view out and the long way down, there better be a little fence or railing there to protect me! I am not walking out any balcony 50 floors up with no fence.
Why? Is the fence that’s made of weak aluminum and stands 4 feet tall really going to stop me from falling or leaning over it? Of course not. But it sure makes me feel better that it is there!
In the same way your child wants boundaries to feel secure. They will never come up to you and say “can you please issue a few more rules for me dad?” However you must understand that after working with thousands of kids and parents, that those “cool ” and “easy” parents that let their kid do all the stuff they aren’t supposed to and talk to them like a buddy- guess what mom and dad ? When they are done using you and they are with their buddies, you’re a sucker, not a cool parent. When it comes to their security, you have given them zero.
Don’t ever kid yourself and think you can make up for lost ground or “get in good ” with your kid by bending the rules. All you’re doing is writing the word sucker on your back. No respect at all. You know who gets the respect? The parent who despite the pleading, whining or whatever refuses to change the rules. That my friends is what makes a kid feel safe.
It is a child’s job to test boundaries. My son Jesse ( he doesn’t read my stuff) is 20. When he was 4-6 years old he was the master of testing limits. I mean you draw a line at the beach and say “y’all can play as much as you want just stay in these boundaries”, he was the first one, always to almost run to that line and just barely slip his toe over it to see if I meant what I said. Boy oh boy, if you are a parent you know how much easier sometimes when you are tired to just give in and let it go.
But you cannot. You know why? You are making more work for yourselves when they get older and the issues are about using your truck, or prom night. You want them to know boundaries before the big show.
If you want respect from your child, you must play the parent. Doing the above, how I explained if you are not already will improve your life dramatically and your relationship with your children.
I hope this is helpful!