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Who is the Parent, You Or Your Child? If Not You, Suggestions on How to Get Back to Parenting

“Can you take out the trash, okay?” Parents, are you attempting to get the approval of your children to do what you are asking them to do? When I see parents interacting with their children, even infants, I am amazed at the lack of authority parents have with their children. I often wonder, who is the parent in a parent/child relationship? The question is rhetorical because it is obvious who is the parent most of the time.

On one of my recent trips back home, I had the pleasure of sitting next a grandmother who had just spent five days with her two grandchildren allowing the parents to go away on vacation. Her grandson is 16 and her granddaughter 13. She told me that she was counting down the minutes before she would get on the plane on her way back home to her husband. She continued to say that she called her husband periodically to calm her down. It was because of our conversation that inspired me to write this article.

I can’t image disrespecting my parents and even more so disrespecting my grandparents. Her grandson was a charm she said, but her granddaughter was relentless. The granddaughter talked back to her, defied the grandmother’s authority and the instructions that was left by the parents. One instruction was the children could not get on the computer unless for homework or school purposes. When the granddaughter asked to use the computer for a school assignment, she allowed it. However, I was told that she found the granddaughter on a popular website. What the granddaughter told her next startled me and explained completely why many children are defying parents, grandparents, teachers and others. Her granddaughter told her that her mother said that she could get on the popular website even though her father left the instruction that the computer could only be used for homework and school assignments.

Does the story above sound familiar to you, one parent the disciplinarian and the other parent is not? I’ve heard similar stories from parents who are frustrated with the other parent’s lack of ability to be a disciplinarian. Another story is that of John who works night shift and is also the disciplinarian. His wife, Anna, is a stay at home mother. Johnny, the son, knows exactly who to ask to get his way. Even though Anna knows exactly what John expects from their son and instills rules such as bedtime for Johnny, when John leaves for work, Johnny is up until 2:00 AM. At school, Johnny continuously falls asleep and on the weekends when his friends want to play, he is at home sleeping. However, Anna does not see anything wrong with Johnny going to bed when he feels like it or when he is falling asleep at school and not playing with his friends because he is at home sleeping.

I am a firm believer in teaching my children discipline and respect of themselves, respect for me and their father as well as others. When I am speaking to high school students, I see the disrespect they have for teachers and can imagine what happens at home. I sometimes ask the question to students, do they respect their teachers and the answer is surprising. Most say no and the reason is that the teachers do not respect them so why should they respect their teachers. I then ask do they respect their parents and some repeats the same answer. I am astonished at the answer and realize that some parents are failing their children.

I often time say and I believe strongly that parents have an opportunity and responsibility to their children and the price of being a parent is to provide opportunities for our children as well as being responsible for them. The opportunity is to raise respectable, responsible, intelligent and successful children to grow into productive and caring adults. The responsibility is to teach and instill values and manners for self, family and friends and associates. If we fail at the opportunity and responsibility to raise and teach our children, we begin to see so many rebellious and unruly children filled with bitterness, resentment and no direction. Most children who fit this description are more often bitter and resentful of their parents for not providing the guidance and direction they needed as children.

Many psychologist, when in session with a patient, often times revert back to a patient’s childhood when trying to resolve issues the patient is experiencing as an adult. This process is key to identifying the root of the problems experienced as an adult. Do you get it yet? Childhood is extremely important and too often parents neglect to raise their children properly and provide the necessary emotional, spiritual, physical and personal needs a child desperately desire to develop. The fundamental key to raising your children is to provide discipline, rules, guidelines and instructions to children and to love them with all your heart and all your soul. When you love your children with all your heart and soul, wanting them to be the best is more important than getting their approval.

Many parents today want the approval of their children. It is not a child’s place to get the approval of their parent, it is the parent’s responsibility and opportunity to establish borders, respect, guidelines and teach manners to their children. Look around you at home, in your community, at your children’ school and at church and count how many respectable children you see. The number you get will shock you. After counting the number of children that has good manners and is respectful, take a good look at their parents and give the parents a compliment. For those children that you see that are unruly, have no respect for themselves and for those around them, take a look at their parents and realize that those parents have failed their opportunity and their responsibility as parents.

To all parents who are not disciplinarians, do not take this article as an insult. Please take this article as a starting point to get back to parenting and make a positive difference in your children lives. I am asking you to take small steps so you can see the difference in your life and your children lives. Below are suggestions on how to get back to parenting. Try one per day or until you have successfully completed one move on to the next. And remember, it takes time to change your previous style of parenting so be patient and take small steps.

Suggestions on how to get back to parenting and get the respect of your children:

o Realize that you are the parent and as such, it’s time to act like a parent.
o It is not our role as a parent to get the approval of our children, so do not look for approval from your children.
o Love your children unconditionally, regardless. Our children will do things and/or say things that will make you feel unloved or unappreciated. Don’t worry, if you love them unconditionally, there is no way possible they really mean what they say.
o Setting rules and guidelines in your home is perfectly normal. It is also more important to follow through with the rules and guidelines you set. Allowing your children to bend them will only establish that you do not have control of your children.
o It is very important that if both parents are actively involved in their children lives they both agree on the rules and regulations set. If one parent does not enforce them, then children do not see a united front and will take advantage of the parent that does not enforce the rules.
o Communicate and explain the rules and guidelines that you established to your children. Also discuss the consequences of not following the rules.
o Know that it is an opportunity for you to raise your children and in such, take advantage of this opportunity and do an excellent job.
o Know that it is also your responsibility to teach your children how to respect themselves, their family and those around them.
o Never get tired of disciplining your children. When your children do no adhere to your rules and guidelines, punishing them is a way of teaching that there consequences for their actions.
o Respect your children and their personal space. This is not to say that you can’t go into their room if you suspect something is going on and you are concerned. It is our responsibility to investigate.
o It is very important to allow our children to be children. Don’t make them grow up too fast. They will miss out on being an innocent child.
o You are going to make mistakes, don’t feel bad about it or think that you are a failure, we all make mistakes. Just like falling of a bike, get back on it right away.

Parents play a major role in the lives of our children. How and what we do makes a mountain of differences and plays a major role in their failures and in their successes. What do you want for your children, to fail or to succeed? Take a look at your parenting style. Are you disciplining your children or letting them do what they want when they want? Your answer will determine their successes or failures. Remember, discipline and good manners starts at home.

Dawnette Lounds-Culp
The Face of Child Support

Author: Dawnette Lounds-Culp
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