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You're the Parent: Take Charge, Clarify Your Role
by Mary Simmons, M.A., Author of Discipline Me Right, with Bert Simmons, M. Ed.
A few Teen Commandments about being a Role Model:
     "Set a good example."
     "Thou shall raise me."
     "Thou shall help me when I need it."
     "You shall realize you are a role model and should do your best."


Know your role. With political correctness, the line between adult and child has blurred: everyone is "equal," and no one should be offended. But political correctness doesn't work in the parent-child relationship. You, as the parent, are the family leader. Your role is leadership and the modeling of values. If your child misbehaves, he or she must be disciplined. The problem is that many parents do not know their role.

Clarify your role. Children need to be reminded of your role as parent and their role as child because the culture is full of mixed messages. There comes a time when a child or teen literally needs to be asked, "Who is your mother?" - "Who is your father?" The kid has disrespected your authority in some way, and the conversation may sound something like this:
     "Who is your mother?":
     "Well, you're my mother," the child will say. :
     "Who's in charge here?"

The child may say, "You're in charge," or they may answer with, "I'm in charge of my own life." Whatever the child says, make sure you make it clear that you are in charge of the family. If necessary, say it again. You may sound like a broken record. That's OK: Repeat yourself, calmly and without hostility: "I'm the parent, I'm in charge, and I'm the leader of this family." Then be ready to back up what you say.

Teaching is like parenting. As a parent, I know that even good kids need reminding about the role of the parent and the role of the kid. As a teacher, I see a similar dynamic at work. Some kids do not know their role in the classroom. These kids think they are their teachers' social and academic equals. An example is an 18-year-old boy who cries over a B grade and then demands an A. Another example is an 18-year-old girl who runs to her counselor when she receives a B+ and then badgers the teacher for a better grade. (These are real examples.) These kids have no sense of proportion; they have no boundaries or humility when it comes to the teacher-student relationship. They bully their teachers, and it appears this attitude comes from home. An assertive teacher takes charge by saying, "Let's get our roles straight: I'm the teacher, and you're the student. I've been trained to assess your performance; you have not." And assertive teachers repeat this message when necessary. Assertive parents need to do the same. Do not allow your child to bully you: Clarify your role, calmly and without hostility. Repeat if necessary.

Some parents will play catch-up. Parents who have established a positive authority with their children will have a much easier time reminding their kids of who is in charge. People with oppositional kids will be playing catch-up, probably in middle school or high school. The kids will push, push, and push because parental authority has not been established. But the good news is that it's never too late.

Kids want us to raise them and be role models. Even though they don't always act like it, kids want and need the parameters that adults set for them. They need us to be in charge. They need us to be the parent, and teacher. They need us to model values. They need us to be people of integrity.

Remember: What matters is that you do what you say you're going to do and also remember that parenting should be a joy.

About the Author:
Mary SimmonsMary Simmons is a teacher, parent, and author. Her father, Bert Simmons, is an educational consultant in the area of school discipline. Together, with the insights of Mary's teenaged students, they have put together a powerful, comprehensive guide to instilling and reinforcing positive, respectful behavior in children. Discipline Me Right is available through Amazon.com and your local bookstore. For more parenting tips and information about the book, visit www.disciplinemeright.com.

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