For years, people thought good parenting was negotiating to get the kids onboard prior to moving forward with consequences or rules enforcement.
It was presumed a child must fully agree with the parenting before anything could proceed further. Children were reared with little if any consequences for rule-breaking, and many rewards for misbehavior. The first generation of children who grew up like that are now parenting. Some have learned to reintegrate discipline, consequences, etc., while others have simply continued the downward spiral of the lack of structure in their homes.
One paragraph into this column, and some readers are likely already angry, and feel like this is a direct attack on them. Guilty consciences will do that to a person.
Children will misbehave. That’s why they need loving parents. Parents who love their children will do whatever they can to ensure their children are given the best tools possible to succeed in life. This necessarily includes learning how to conduct oneself in society. Parents must teach this.
Unfortunately, it’s not happening much these days.
Now, I must say that our wonderful community in and around Yelm is somewhat unique in this. I’ve been actively working with youth and families in our area nearly daily for many years now. In my personal experience I’ve found our youth to be outstanding in their behaviors as a general rule, and I absolutely attribute this to remarkably excellent parenting. It could be due to our abundance of military and farming families. Whatever the case, it sure appears good parenting is more common in our community than it is in many other places around the country. We’re blessed.
Even so, it doesn’t hurt us to evaluate ourselves so we can improve however possible. If you are one who expects your children to behave, good for you! If you purposely try to ensure your children follow the rules, show respect, act decent, work hard, act mannerly, make good grades, play nice, share, be careful, manage money, do what is right even when no one is watching, love people and animals, care for things entrusted to your care, be hospitable, love Jesus, speak respectably, treat others with equity, love America, compete fairly, help others, forgive others, laugh, create, be humble but confident, have fun – but never at others’ expense, and other good things, please continue. You are making our community and world a better place.
If you are a parent with children still at home, but you struggle with their behaviors, know that you’re not alone. The fact you want your children to behave better means you have it within you to make the changes necessary. If you feel like you cannot do it on your own, reach out to a local church you trust to help. Often you’ll find good adult role models there who have been where you are, and are willing to help.
If you’re one whose children throw tantrums and won’t do what you say, but you deny your parenting is part of the problem, please take a moment to stop and ask God to reveal to you what needs to be revealed. Maybe there’s nothing, but maybe you’ll realize even in just praying for God to reveal things to you that you do need to make changes. Your children need structure, and you’re the person in their lives who can provide it, consistently.
The rest of us need to lift up these younger families in our prayers. It’s not easy in these crazy times.
“Point your kids in the right direction — when they’re old they won’t be lost.” – Proverbs 22:6 (MSG)
Pastor Jeff Adams is a professional Christian counselor who travels the world teaching but serves our community. His column appears weekly. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.