The job of parenting has no manual. It’s one of those jobs that many people simply find themselves in, without applying for it. And even those who apply for it, sooner or later, find out that it’s not what they’d bargained for. From soft approaches, hard, military style approaches to laissez-faire, parents try to work with what works for them in any given situation. There are no guarantees in life but more often than not parents almost always get back whatever approach they invest in their children.
I grew up in the old days. In my family the belt ruled the day. It was war. Look, we were seven boys at one time. I’m sure my parents had to resort to those measures because seven rowdy boys could only be stopped that way. My father was the Major General. He administered corporal punishment. He never pulled any punches and we took our punishment like we were supposed to. With pleasure. My mother was the cheerleader. She wanted us to ‘turn out right’. I think we turned out right, after all. My point here is that there is a time when military style parenting works. It certainly worked for us, I think. We were wild. We could have set our house on fire had my parents taken the laissez-faire approach! And it was not always about the belt. Sometimes it was about being woken up quite early to sweep the yard, to scrub the white walls of our house. We did it all, whether winter or fall.
I’m not saying this is the best approach. Obviously today if you do some of the things our parents did to us you could end up at the police station! But when I look around, sometimes I feel parents today have lost it. They’re too soft. They let their children bully them. They think it’s ‘cute’ when a child talks back at them. No! Come on. You want your children to grow up to be responsible citizens. The Bible demands it. It is the parents’ duty to train up a child in the way he should go.
Ask yourself which direction you want your child to go. Whilst there are no guarantees when it comes to the outcome of each parenting style, it is every parent or guardian’s duty to at least try to mould a child that will fit in well in a normal society. Consider the following points:
1, First and foremost, let your child know who’s in charge. “Command. Don’t ask. Don’t negotiate.”
2, No phones in kids’ room unsupervised.
3, No earplugs in the car, for you or your child. “That time in the car is precious.”
4, Family dinners are important. “You are sending the message that family matters.”
5, Teach humility. It is still a virtue.
6, Teach what’s really important. “It cannot be just about getting a job. It’s not just about achievement. It’s about who you are as a human being.”
Who cares about the future?
Your child may not appreciate it now but later on he/she will be grateful that you cared enough to show them love. It is still love when you get tough with your child. The world may be a cruel place, but there are some beautiful places where love resides. In fact, it is the humble children who will go on and change the world to make it a better place. Allow your child the opportunity to get up early in the morning (uncomfortable) and do something that they really dislike (life lesson – sometimes life throws lemons at you). Let them experience it.
While growing up I sometimes came to the conclusion that my father did not like me. He would say things like: ‘If you think you can challenge me it means that you are old enough to live on your own. So pack your bags and get out of my house’. Looking back, I realize that he cared. He was teaching us to be grateful. He loved us. Who did we expect to clean up after us? We had to play our part, as members of the family. He cared even as he seemed to be cruel. It is still love even when you are reasonably hard on your child.
So the next time your child challenges you, will you look them straight in their eyes and say ‘Pack your bags and leave my house?’ Do you care enough to say that?
When all’s said and done, the future belongs to those that will know what approach to use for different situations. Varying from tough to soft and soft to tough will show your child that there are many different ways to achieve something. What we give our children today is what they’ll give back to us in the future. The question is, what are you feeding your children? What sort of human being are you moulding for the future? Will your approach help them survive in this world? Be true to yourself and do what’s best for your child.
Show them love. Don’t let them pack their bags and leave your house unarmed.