I don’t believe that parenting has collapsed. There are a lot of “right” things today’s parents are doing in raising their children.
Here are three areas where many parents excel:
1. They are treating their children with dignity and respect. In other words, they are raising their kids with kindness instead of using undue power. When parents use their bigger size and greater experience in a powerful way, kids become fearful. When they are overpowered time after time, they lose respect for their parents and authority in general. Also, parents who are over-authoritative lose the teaching moments where they can discover the reasons kids are misbehaving, problem-solve difficult situations, defuse anger and prevent more disobedience. As well, they may discover that their child may be feeling undervalued in the family, or at school, which can lead to despair and depression.
2.They have decided to raise their children in a different way from how they were raised. Many adults today have been brought up in families where parents spanked, or used a belt or wooden spoon as punishment. They don’t want to yell at their kids the way their parents yelled at them. They know that punishment like this causes growing resentment, anger and revengeful behavior. When children know why a rule is in place, or even have helped to formulate the rule, they are more likely to adhere to it. Instead of ruling by fear, parents are raising their kids with reason.
3.They are encouraging their children to voice their opinions and make choices, fostering independent thinking. Instead of dictating every element of family life, they want their children to think and behave from the aspect of wisdom instead of blind obedience or fear.
The above three changes in attitude have changed parenting today. Kids are thriving in the atmosphere of love and respect. But, I think parents are lacking confidence, comparing themselves negatively with neighbors, family members and friends, and feeling insecure about their parenting skills.
Are there some slight shifts in thought that might make parents feel more capable and more confident?
I believe there are four things parents must do to be even more effective:
1.They must know that they are in charge of the family and must provide the structure for family life until the children are old enough or mature enough to participate in setting rules and schedules together with their parents.
2.They must teach the lessons needed for their kids to become helpful, respectful, generous, independent adults. Children aren’t born knowing right from wrong. They need to be taught. Parents must take the time to teach respect for others and for themselves, table manners and social manners such as greeting and speaking to others, problem-solving, social media protocol, and relationship basics. Not only must parents model the behavior they want to see in their children, they need to actively educate them by reading to them, discussing what they’re reading and monitoring their behavior. Kids need to trust their parents and will do so if treated fairly and honestly.
3.They must feel comfortable in letting their kids suffer the consequences of their actions. Instead of punishing, parents can allow a child to live through and learn from scenarios where she has made mistakes. What do I mean? She can endure the consequences the teacher levies on her for undone homework, or get a bad grade. A boy can feel a few hunger pangs when he refuses to eat his lunch and is told that the next meal is at 6 pm. Enduring the consequences of his behavior is a great teacher for a child.
4. Parents must be consistent in their approach to their kids. They must not give in when they’ve said “No”. But “No” must be a realistic and reasonable answer to a request. So parents need to think before they act, count to ten perhaps, before giving an answer to their child. Inconsistency causes confusion and insecurity in children. Standing firm provides limits within which children feel secure.
Parenting has not collapsed. I believe that parents have all the know-how they need to raise good adults. They don’t need to feel confused and incompetent. Kids are depending on their parents to be solidly there for them.
Parents: build on the strengths you’ve developed. You’ve created the atmosphere for raising great kids. Put fear aside and step forward with courage to teach and mentor them to adulthood.
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