For the past 30 years, I have seen the demise of the family unit. Children’s rights are to the point that now we have an “entitlement” epidemic on our hands. Children today don’t know how to entertain themselves unless there is a screen involved. And to top it all off parents today are exhausted, frazzled and overwhelmed more than any other time in history.
No wonder we see books like “A Case For Only One Child,”by Dr. Susan Newman, coming out. In her book she states the advantage of having only one child and encourages parents not to allow others to make them feel guilty for only having singletons instead of multiples. Don’t get me wrong, I think she makes a good point but I think the real questions is: Who is in the driver’s seat anyway, you or your child?
Let me ask a key question here – Does your child frequently exhibit any of the following behaviours:
- Talk back
- Argue with you
- Yell at you
- Have temper tantrums
- Flip out when you try to set boundaries
- Dress inappropriately just to get your reaction
- Ignore you
- Give you the silent treatment
- Make bed time like entering a battlefield
- Need continuous reminders to complete chores
- Expect you to be at their beck and call for rides, lunch, extracurricular activities, help them with that last minute project, etc.
I could go on and on, but I think you get the message. Now let me ask you, do you frequently exhibit any of the following behaviours: (Be brutally honest with yourself)
- Worry that your child is not happy, has low self-esteem, won’t be accepted by other children
- Have a hard time saying no
- Have difficulty expressing your feelings
- Constantly pick up after them, do their homework, drop of their lunch or school bag if they forget it
- Make excuses for them
- Go back on what you say, in other words, is your yes is not always yes and no is not always no?
- Do you follow ALL the way through consistently?
- Resort to yelling, screaming, threatening, manipulating out of frustration
- Take their misbehaviour personally, and eventually give in
- Lecture, compare and over-explain
- Feel drained and exhausted
Many parenting strategies say that it’s our responsibility to keep our child happy and content, always speaking to them in gentle kind and warm tones and words, with a promise that in doing so they will turn out to be well adjusted responsible adults with a great self-esteem. Hogwash! Maybe in a laboratory but not in real life!
It is certainly NOT our job to make them happy. It is our job to lead them into adulthood by allowing them to discover, in a safe and loving environment, that life is not a free ride. It is our job to develop integrity, honesty, compassion for others, mutual respect, autonomy, interdependence, strength of character, consistency, positive interpersonal and communication skills. It is not our job to be a friend to our child but to mentor, coach, discipline, instruct and lead our child to be who they were created to be.
But it does not have to exhaust us or deplete us of who we are. It is possible to accomplish this and maintain our dignity and sanity. That is what I teach in my workshops on Leadership Style Parenting.
But let me give you a few tips now.
1. State your expectations clearly and concisely. “Amy I expect you to pick up your coat and hang it up in the closet when we come in the door.”
2. Say it once. Don’t keep reminding.
3. Later when Amy wants to go out with her friends she might say “Mom where is my coat I want to go out with Becky and I can’t find it.” You reply “Is it in the closet?” If she did not hang her coat up as you had stated was your expectation and request then she may become upset and expect you to help her look for it.
4. Let the child feel the consequence of her own actions
5. Remain calm and continue doing your own thing. Her emergency is not yours.