Have you ever said: I don’t want to get on my kid’s bad side, I have no desire to be anything except a best friend to my child, or I don’t have the heart to say ‘no’ and ‘quit?’ To parents who fall into any of the three previous categories, I’m going to drop the truth bomb on you: you’re setting your child up for infinite failure as an adult.
Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. ~ Proverbs 22:6, KJV
It is my observation that many parents in my social circle, at least 25% of them, fail at disciplining their own children. In all fairness to them, the role of a parent is a difficult job to fill: you don’t always know the best answers to the myriad of questions in life, the way that you were raised isn’t always the best pattern to repeat with your kids, and, lastly, the constant attention required for teaching your child is daunting, to say the least.
So, yes, go ahead and drop the ball as a parent. Give in to your kid’s every demand, let them know that they set the rules in the household, ask them how you can be a better friend, and a more accommodating adult to whichever whims they wish to pursue.
A child who is allowed to be disrespectful to his parents will not have true respect for anyone ~ Billy Graham
I hope you can sense the extreme sarcasm that is fused between each word, each sentence above. I’ve spread it on, real thick-like, like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
As parents, we should be intentional. Honestly, kids deserve our intentional attention and guidance.
The problem is that of respect: kids of today don’t know what it means—heck, some parents don’t know what it means. Of the parents that do understand the concept, a large fraction of them do not know how to teach the fundamentals of respect.
Examine the typical Poster Child of Petulance. They are usually in the grocery store, volume level at 150%, shouting the following phrase to everyone and anyone: “BUT I WANT THE CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES!” Or a kid that is screaming at his or her grandparent, treating them with less respect than a worn-out rug: “I HATE YOU, YOU’RE NOT EVEN MY PARENT!”
Why are these pictures so easy to imagine? Because they happen all of the time—byproducts of an undisciplined child.
When my son was very young, I’d have to guess within the 18-24 month range, he was like every other toddler in the grocery store. He wanted something, and he wanted it right now. I can’t even remember what the outburst was about, but I can recall in vivid detail the discipline that followed, right there in the store, in front of other shoppers. It was an immediate reaction to an immediate problem, not best left for later, at home, or in the car.
I made him stand on a 12″x12″ tile square, feet planted directly in the center. His instructions were clear: stand there for a Time Out. I know that the concept of Time Out doesn’t work for all children, but (surprisingly) it worked for all three of mine. At that point, he knew that he did something wrong, and, as a result, he would have to remain stationary in the store, within that square-foot tile.
Even though my children are still kids, I am very pleased with the way that they have turned out. Each of the three are extremely respectful to friends, family, elders, and—most of all—their parents. I cannot recall all of the disciplining behavior that my wife and I conducted over the years, but the one thing that we always did was maintain consistency. Unruly behavior was never tolerated; disrespect to others was never tolerated. Never.
If your children do not respect you, as their parent, they will not respect grandparents, siblings, friends, future spouses, or even random strangers.
Public Service Announcement: if you fail to teach your kids proper respect for other humans (and themselves), and choose to step aside during the disciplining phase of their lives, you will raise rotten human beings. Those menaces will then procreate as adults, and breed other rotten human beings.
Easier said, than done—that may be your reaction right now—right? And I can’t tell you the How of disciplining your child, only the Why of disciplining your child. Your methods will, inevitably, vary from mine or another parent, although it is important to implement your own strategy. The last piece of advice that I can offer is that both parents have to be on the same wavelength. A disciplinary parent matched with a lax parent will only provide a natural fault line, which your children will exploit, without a doubt.
You can never outrun the Vulcan Death Grip
My father was, and still is, a ginormous fan of Star Trek. Actually, Star Trek everything. From my earliest memories, I can tell you that he was also the World’s Biggest Fan of the Vulcan Nerve Pinch. While the fictitious character of Mr. Spock, snuck behind his foes, utilized the pinch to render his enemies unconsciousness, I can tell you from experience that the phenomenon is real, very real.
Just ask my dad, or my brothers.
As a parent of three boys—each wild by their own standards—Dad employed the same nerve pinch to let us know that our behavior was unacceptable. His hands were fairly strong, and when he grasped your neck, on the muscle above your clavicle, you felt the pain. The subclavian arteries are found in that general region of your neck, and when pinched, it really hurts. This was our individual cue to stop whatever shenanigans we were currently mixing into our bowl of behavior.
I’ve never been a parent to employ physical discipline—thus my rational for not saying one method is better than another for getting through to your kid—but it was an extremely effective tool used to teach us respect. I would like to say that all three of us boys, turned out to be fairly respectable adults. Of course, I’m higher on the scale that the other two—just kidding, relax!
The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. ~ Mister Spock, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, 1982
In 2018, I have several new goals—45, at least—including cleaning, decluttering, and organizing my house. In the initial stages of that endeavor, which is guaranteed to last all year long, I started to move boxes around in my garage and found some old Star Trek toys that my father mailed to me long ago. I retrieved a figurine of Spock from the collection, still sealed in the plastic bubble, and selected it for today’s image.
I have never claimed to be the best parent, and my wife will certainly outline a litany of my personal failures over the years; although, I will declare the importance of teaching your kids the proper ways of the universe. If you want to produce healthy humans that respect other people, you’ve got to quit trying to be their best friend, stop avoiding the uncomfortable responsibility of disciplining them, and get on with teaching them.
Repeat after me: I don’t mind getting on my kid’s bad side, I have no desire to be anything except a responsible parent to my child, and I have the most ginormous heart to say ‘no’ and ‘quit.’
If that’s outside of your wheelhouse and skillset, well, I can offer this final advice for you: quit procreating.