The Biggest Mistake That Parents Make
by Archer Crosley, www.baldmommy.com
The biggest mistake that a parent can make is to try to be their child's friend.
How can I say this nicely without offense; you are not your child's friend, nor their drinking buddy; you are their parent. Unfortunately, many parents want that love that their child brings; and they will do anything to ensure that their child continues to love them, even foregoing discipline. Now maybe someday, when your children are in their twenties, you can develop a unique friendship with them; but that won't happen if you fail in your parenting responsibilities when they are young. Indeed, without respect, there can be no love. And if you fail to discipline your children, they will come to disrespect you.
It is imperative that your children understand who is the boss in the relationship. You and your child are not co-equals, and your family is not a democracy. Think of your family as a benevolent dictatorship, and you will have at least eliminated one myth, the myth of the democratic family as a successful model, standing in your path to having a successful family.
This is a tough concept for many parents to grasp, especially those parents who came from families where discipline was perhaps too strict. Many of these parents rationalize "Well, I don't want to be a strict as my parents were." It's a nice concept in theory, but I can assure you that a family without discipline is like a house without walls.
The walls of the house are nothing more than rules that guide people down pathways; pathways that make the house run more effectively. Now imagine if you had a house with no walls where everybody could see everybody and anyone could walk anywhere unimpeded. Can you imagine someone cooking two feet from where you are trying to sleep? Can you imagine another person skipping merrily through the bathroom on their way to the garage as you are washing up? Of course not! These scenarios are unworkable.
One of my close friends who did discipline his children effectively put it this way, "My kids can do what they want after they are adults and living away from the house, but when they are here, they follow my rules." This friend couldn't have cared less if his kids liked him or not with regard to the rules that he made and enforced.
But when he spoke to me about rule-setting, it wasn't just what he said, it was the way he said it. He asserted himself in a casual but firm tone as if he had been applying his rules for a lengthy period of time. The rules that he set forth were second nature to him and his family.
Now, if you go home and try to adopt what I am saying in a very hysterical and aggressive manner, you will fail. If you make a speech to your kids that there is a new sheriff in town who isn't going to put up with this type of behavior anymore, they may laugh at you behind your back and continue their same patterns of behavior.
If you are having problems at home right now, what I recommend is that you begin slowly. Enforce simple rules, such as clean up your room before dinner, or, everyone must eat dinner together, and follow through with them - quietly. Don't make a big show about it; you don't need to; you are holding all the Aces. Gradually enforce more rules as time goes by.
Don't worry when your children start crying, "You don't love me anymore." This is a ruse that children use to manipulate their parents. Remember your kids are pretty smart; they have the same intelligence that you do, and pretty soon, they will learn that the rules are the rules, and that their parents are the ones who set the rules.
The true love that you desire will gradually follow from this framework of respected rules.
About the Author:
Archer Crosley, MD has been practicing pediatrics for over 25 years and is the author of What Successful Families Do, The Bald Truth about Parenting. Dr. Crosley lives in McAllen, Texas. Dr. Crosley graduated from the University of Kansas Medical School in 1982. He finished his residency in pediatrics at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio in 1985. For more information visit www.baldmommy.com.
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