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Sunday, March 05, 2006

Parents and Wannabes, Read This!

Instead of my morning political diatribe, I'll do sociology today, because I found a great article in the Outlook section of the Washington Post on parenting.

"The Don't Blame Me Generation" has some great advice for parents, and those who wish to be, on child rearing. Patricia Dalton is a clinical psychologist in DC, and hit on one of my sore points with lots of parents today. The desire to give their children everything, and protect them from their own actions.

She gives some good, concrete examples of "parents gone wild" in her article, letting the kids do what they wish, and then becoming indignant when someone tries to hold the kids responsible for the problem.

She has a great paragraph towards the end of the article, which I think sums up my parenting philosophy, which was learned from my parents:

Parents have two serious responsibilities. The first is to love their children without worshipping them. Such adoration is a big danger in today's smaller families where parents' pride and dreams are divided among fewer children. The second responsibility is to discipline children -- to hold their feet to the fire. Parents must be able to tolerate the distress that real discipline causes their offspring.

I find it amusing, almost, and definitely distressing, how many parents don't get the first one. My wife and I still have friends of our kids who come to visit, and ask advice because their parents answer is "do whatever you want".

These same kids hung out on our front porch as teenagers, knowing there were rules that would be followed, or the party was over. They could have gone to their place, and done whatever they wanted, but apparently what some of them were looking for were some rules.

Part not worshipping children is the theory of wants, and needs. Growing up I don't think I ever went without something I needed, but there were always more things I wanted. "Just because Mike has one" never got me anything, except a list of chores to do to earn some money to get it. Amazingly, I lived through that and can talk about it today.

The second responsibility, discipline, has become a joke in the Dr. Spock era. I'm not shy about admitting to getting the occasional whack with a belt, or coffee pot cord for very serious offenses. But to this day I equate open fires in the yard with pain, and calling my mom a very bad name with even more pain.

Today's parents don't need to beat their children, but time out isn't the answer either. Firm rules work best, but they have to be followed, even when it's hard. For years I thought my parents were jerks for certain rules they had and never bent on. When I was around 25 I wrote my Dad a letter thanking him for those rules. Having two kids of my own then made me realize something, he wasn't a jerk. He taught me a lot of valuable stuff about raising kids.

The lessons he taught me had nothing to do (directly) with making sure the kids had high self esteem by not ever telling them they were wrong, or saying no. Instead I learned you have even higher self esteem when you realize you are capable of making an informed choice on your own, and the world doesn't end when it's the wrong one.

Unlike many of today's parents they didn't try and protect me from what I did wrong, they tried to help me learn from it. Mistakes are a part of life, you have to let kids make a few and find that out, or adult life is going to be pretty tough on them.

I used to hate Mom and Dad for holding my feet to the fire when I made the wrong choice, now I can't imagine doing things any other way.

Enough of my ranting go read the article and see if any of the parenting problems apply to you. If they do think about what you could do to fix them. If they don't, you can probably thank your parents for giving you a good example to follow.

Technorati Tags: Parenting, children, discipline, psychology


Blogger Greta (Hooah Wife) said...

Good conservative upbringing can't hurt either. It is the "take responsibility for your actions" philosophy that works best - and that parents should be accountable for their kids!

8:48 AM  
Blogger yankeemom said...

Oh that nasty self esteem thing. How can a child develop a good self esteem if nothing they do is their responsibility? I had more kids sleeping on my livingroom floor because their parents didn't let them know they cared enough not to let them sleep out on the streets. When these kids arrived, I laid down the rules: no drugs, no drinking, no stealing or they'd be spending the night in a lock up. They knew I wasn't kidding. So there were no drugs, no drinking and I'm still in possession of all my possessions. And I made them call their parents - not one parent came to my house to pick up their kid (mad as hell that their kid hadn't come home by curfew, which is what I would have done). The response was "Oh, if that's what "johnny" wants to do, that's ok then." These kids were repeat sleepers on my floor.

9:38 AM  
Blogger Old Sgt said...

Here, Here. Having helped (with my wife of course) raise 4 kids of my own, all of which are out of the home now and into the real world; I can vouch for having good morals and willingness to accept responsibility for their actions. However, I do agree that there are parents out there that really don't want their kids aroound and let them run helter skelter on the streets.

I worked at a Boys Ranch here in Oklahoma for a total of five years and the majority of the boys we dealt with were good boys but their parents just didn't want them around, so they just did what they wanted without consequences. The the parents would say,"well I can't control him." A little smack on the bottom, to a certain age, don't hurt either.

12:51 PM  
Blogger Lone Pony said...

You would be surprised how many parents get mad at ME when I discipline their child. They aren't doing their kid any favors. Thanks for the link. I wonder if I can get away with handing it out to parents at open house? Had to get on a gal Friday...first thing she said to me is I didn't like her because she was black! WOW did she catch it then. Oops...I'm ranting.

3:24 PM  
Blogger Webmiztris said...

my parents were really strict...I hated it! but looking back, it's probably for the best. at least I wasn't one of those chicks who was knocked up by her sophomore year of high school!

3:57 PM  
Blogger echotig said...

I pretty much do the opposite of what my mom did. So far its working. Ha!

5:42 PM  
Blogger Crazy Politico said...

I was talking to Mom today, and found one of her co-workdrs doesn't discipline her child because he has "Obedience Rejection Disorder", and it will only make him mad... Where were these great labels when I was a kid! I could have claimed a disability those times they called the police!

5:57 PM  
Blogger Little Miss Chatterbox said...

Well said as always and I agree!!

6:24 PM  
Blogger Toni said...

Haha. Obediance Rejection Disorder!! Un-blank blank believable. That is utterly pathetic.

6:49 PM  
Blogger Stacy said...

My son will be the first to tell you that I had very strict rules, but he will then tell you that he would not have wanted it any other way after looking back. I am a firm believer in making your kids behave, and it does not have to be done by beating them. I never laid a hand on mine, but he knew that when I said no, that I menat it.

I taught mine from a very early age, that lying would not get him anywhere with me. I told him that as long as he told me the truth, that there would never be anything that we could not work through.

I hate to see these kids that are coming up in our society today that are not bgrought up to behave. I dont' mind one bit to correct a child if I see them doing something that is not right.

Thanks for this article. I could go on and on, but I will stop, as my beliefs might not be the same as the next persons.

6:59 PM  
Blogger Crazy Politico said...

Toni, I can't wait for him to use that when he joins the real world. I'm sure boss will love that excuse.

Thanks, LMC.

Stacy, We had a similar lying policy with our kids, they will talk to us about anything. Though at times that can be frightening too :)

7:28 PM  
Blogger Paula said...

I'm not that strict, or conservative either, but I do have a few clear rules, mostly involving safety and respect for others, have always encouraged independence, and so far am generally pleased overall with my daughters' behavior (ages 13 and 15). They use "bad" language, but I don't care about that.

7:32 PM  
Blogger shoprat said...

It seems that the government is determined to raise your children for you, and, unlike most of the people who post here, too many are willing to let them.

10:13 PM  
Blogger crazypoliticoswife said...

There is a time to be friends with your children and time to be a parent. As parents of now adults, we are reaping the benefits of being their friend. How many kids do you know that would take their mom along to play their senior prank (btw, it was harmless, fun, and had the blessing of the district administrater and no one can prove that there were 2 mothers there no matter how many pictures we have)

3:39 PM  
Blogger Uber said...

I think kids have way less fun without a little order (read: rules) because the "Lord of the Flies" attitude eventually gets in the way without it.

3:41 PM  
Blogger DaddysGirl said...

Hm no dad you totally screwed me up with those rules. I mean seriously think about it. I know exactly who I am, I've got my life fairly well figured out, I talk to you and mom all the time. Gee Dad you really messed up! lol, thanks for everything love you!

8:34 PM  
Blogger AmyS said...

I'm a teacher at one of the more affluent public high schools in the area... don't get me started on some of the spoiled brats in my class. It comes as quite a rude shock to them and to their parents when they realize there is a consequence for, say, not making up a test before the end of a grading period. I've got several for whom 6 weeks with the Marine Corps would do a world of good in terms of teaching them some discipline and responsibility, as well as doing what they're told.

6:21 PM  
Blogger Crazy Politico said...

CP'S Wife- Yeah, it's terrible that our kids have become our friends. We must have screwed up being strict with them in their younger years.

Uber, I agree. One of the great things about rules is they allow children to test limits in a fairly safe way. If you have no rules, they have no limits, that gets dangerous.

Daddy's Girl- I'm sorry I messed you up. Did you ever find it weird that we were the strictest parents around, and still "the cool parents". I think it showed kids wanted a little direction.

Amy, thanks for holding them to standards. I think it's important for teachers to do that, and lots don't. At some point, probably when they get a real job for the first time, they will remember, and thank you.

7:13 PM  

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