The mini series, “The Slap” starts airing tonight. It got me thinking about parenting. Not that this subject is ever far from my mind. The conversation is about physical discipline with other people’s children. Really that’s just a symptom of a bigger problem. If the main character does this in public to someone else’s child, can you imagine what life is like with him behind closed doors? And the child who won’t listen to his own parents and stop swinging the bat that is obviously a danger to the other children. I think there is much deeper parenting conversation that needs to happen, not just the surface situational conversation. We are quick to throw around our opinion, but often less quick to be introspective first. Sure, you wouldn’t put your hands on another child, BUT do you have a kid that doesn’t listen to you? How’s your parenting behind closed doors?
I have read copious amounts of parenting books, talked to professionals, and experimented on my own children. I am involved in a parenting class right now and the teacher said something last week, “There are no good and bad parents, only ones who are effective or not.” I began to really examine the behavior of my children. Am I effective?
I have realized there are two main values a parent can instill in their child that domino into other valued traits. First being respect. This is respect for self, authority, and other people in general. A child who respects themselves is less likely to become pregnant at the age of 15, or end up in juvi. A child taught to respect those in authority above them, will do better in school, and probably have even more successful careers as adults. This is probably the kid you want to have over to play with your children. Learning respect for others in general means they will grow up into kind, compassionate adults. The secret to teaching this respect? Not demanding it, not shaming them into it. The secret is giving it. Let them be their own person. A child only hears the first few words coming from your mouth, after that you sound like the teacher on Charlie Brown. Let actions and consequences prevail. If your child disagrees with you, let them. Have a conversation about why (an older kid, not a toddler. No one can rationalize with those creatures). They might learn something and you may even learn something more about them. I am not advocating a mamby pamby way of life where your kid is always right. I AM advocating for a relationship, and these go both ways.
The other is critical thinking. This for me is HUGE! I think the generation that is currently being raised will greatly lack this skill as adults. We are too quick to do for them what they can do for themselves. It’s good for them to struggle and have to figure something out. Often times the end result will shock you, in a good way. Close your mouth and ask more questions, like 90% of the time questions. For instance, every Wednesday is garbage day in our house. Our oldest is responsible for making sure the garbages inside the house have been gathered and the big can is out by the street. He ALWAYS forgets, yes, always.Instead of telling him what to do, our conversation goes something like this,
“What day is today?”
me: “What do we do on Wednesdays?”
He doesn’t even respond, but goes off to do what he needs to. Maybe in a few years he will remember, but for now, every Wednesday we have this conversation. Questions are how we avoided those terrible 2’s and difficult 3’s. Kids argue because they want power. Using their brain and answering questions gives them that power they want. When they are older, they can actually think for themselves! They won’t be the worker bee who always has to be told what to do. See, initiative is one of the domino values.
If you got here, congratulations, you made it through this long post and you probably are constantly working on being a better parent. This is one of my very passionate subjects.