It’s your kid’s birthday, so you have to play nice, but these parents are harder to deal with than the kids!
Try not to let these people get under your skin.
1. The Helicopter Parent
“Why no, Mrs. Smith, I didn’t put shrapnel in the mac n’ cheese so little Billy would ingest it and die. You really don’t need to comb through his food and double check. Promise.”
2. The Pretentious Parent
“Please, Mr. Jones, continue to prattle on about your thesis on Kurt Vonnegut’s Fahrenheit 451 and how it changed your perception of the modern world. It totally jibes with the Kidz Bop soundtrack we are playing.”
3. The Braggart
“Gosh Mrs. Thomas, tell us more about the time little Muffy played an entire Mozart concerto while accompanying herself on the flute. That definitely makes me feel better about the fact that my Brad can’t pluck ‘Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star’ on the ukulele.”
4. The Snobby Parent
“Yep Mr. Johnson, I really did decide to provide chicken fingers instead of caviar. I had a hunch the kids might appreciate it more.”
5. The Peppy Parent
“Uh, Mrs. Williams, there really is no need to... oh okay, you’re already in the clown suit? You’ve already purchased 126 balloons for balloon animals? No I understand, you’re just worried the kids won’t have fun with the entertainment I provided. Nope. That’s cool, see you and Annie soon.”
6. The Absent Parent
“Really Mr. Miller? We are going to just pretend you didn’t see your little Joey throw a temper tantrum and threw birthday cake at the wall? I suppose you’re going to be angry at me when I go correct him too, right?”
10 Parenting Etiquette Dilemmas&ndash&ndashSolved
Constantly hearing "You shouldn't&hellip" and "Why are you doing that?" when it comes to raising your kids can quickly make you feel attacked&ndash&ndashand like you're doing a bad job as a parent. But before you attack right back, take a deep breath, says Jodi R. R. Smith, president of Mannersmith Etiquette Consulting. Try to see your child's grandmother in the best possible light like most grandparents, she probably just wants to feel needed and involved, and likely isn't up-to-date on modern parenting techniques. That said, you're within your rights to nip criticism in the bud. The easy response: "Say, 'Thank you so much I appreciate your input,' then do what you think is best," says Smith. If it continues, or you can't rise above it, try: "I'm sure you don't intend it this way, but some of your parenting advice sounds like you're saying I'm a bad mother." Then, be quiet and listen to what she has to say. It could be that she does just want to be more involved. Or, she may want to learn more about how parenting has changed over the past 20 or so years. Photo: Thinkstock
2. Your child's pal tends to act up while he's at your house.
If it's your home, your house rules apply. According to Smith, "You can certainly say, 'Teddy, we don't hit in our house.'" If the bad behavior continues, you can try a brief time out, but not before you've exhausted your powers of distraction: "Hey, kids, let's take out two trucks so we don't fight over the one train!" The issue is different if the child's mom is also there. Even well-meaning and otherwise in-control moms sometimes let the reins slip a little when they're at someone else's house. Says Smith, "You can say to her, 'I think your Teddy just whacked my James with a block. You want to take this one, or should I?" A conspiratorial, we-are-in-the-same-boat tone will make her feel less defensive. And if she doesn't get the message? Limit play dates for a while. Photo: Martin Poole/Thinkstock
3. Your friend feeds her family only organic foods, and you think she's judging you when you serve your "regular" snacks.
Is she really judging you? Before you jump to that conclusion, be sure you're not perceiving rudeness that's not there. For example, her organic snacks may bring to the surface issues of your own, especially if you're feeling conflicted about the food choices you make, says Meagan Francis, author of The Happiest Mom. So take a second to ask yourself: Did your friend simply pull out her organic spelt crackers, or did she take it a step further and try to explain her family's all-organic stance? If it's the latter, says Francis, she's still not necessarily being rude and you could take the opportunity to talk about family food choices&mdashalways a hot topic among moms. "But if the other mom literally sniffed, or made a comment like, 'We don't eat those!' you should say something without snapping back with a judgment of your own." So instead of ,"Well, aren't you an organic snob these days!" you might say, "I get that some foods are healthier than others. We do our best," and then leave it alone. Though, Francis adds, "If she continues to be truly insulting, maybe it's time to reevaluate the friendship, or how often you spend time with her." Why hang out with people who intentionally snub or blatantly judge you? Photo: iStock
4. You heard from your child that another kid at school&mdashwhose parent you know&ndash&ndashis bullying him.
Tread carefully here. "Don't presume that you really know what happened based on what your son told you," says Smith, "and don't assume the other kid's parent knows anything, either." It's not that your child is making things up, but he could be exaggerating, leaving information out or misremembering. So while you should take any report of bullying seriously, try not to jump to conclusions that would prompt you to pick up the phone and blast the other parent. Call her, but don't launch right into the bully story, suggests Smith. To open the door to the conversation, try something like, "Susie, it is so great to catch up! How is Billy adjusting to fourth grade? It's such a big change from last year." Once you're talking, gently mention what your child said: "Johnny says that Billy got into a tussle yesterday on the playground. Did you hear anything about it?" Listening is the most important thing you can do. Is the other mother truly dumbfounded or defensive? That will give you clues as to how to proceed. But don't let being polite stop you from investigating further, especially if you feel it's warranted. "Manners matter, but safety comes first: If your child is the victim of bullying, contact his school and keep a record of dates, what happened and how the school handled the situation," says Smith. Photo: iStock
5. A neighborhood kid comes by often and unannounced, overstays his welcome and eats you out of house and home.
The best course of action here, says Francis, is to embrace your role as the grown-up of the house. Any kid can knock on your door, but if it's not a good time, you're within your rights to say, "Oh, sorry, Kevin, but the kids can't play right now." And if a young visitor is treating your refrigerator as his own, you can and should firmly tell him the kitchen's closed. You can also say, "We're very happy to have you here when we have lunch, but in our house, we don't have constant snacks between meals, OK?" You only need to call the other parents if the child doesn't comply, says Francis. However, you should call if you don't know the child that well (his folks might be wondering where little Kevin wandered off to). Another call-worthy situation is if you're just not an open-door type of family. Say something like, "We're pretty busy with homework and family time right after school. Let's try to set up a date to get the kids together in the future." Photo: Shutterstock
6. Your child asks to accept a play date with another kid&mdashbut you're not crazy about her or her parents.
You don't need a hundred reasons to decline a play date. How you finesse it depends on your child's preferences. If she's not interested in getting together, but the friend's mother calls, be straightforward, polite and add in a clue that you're not looking for a rain check, says Smith. For example: "Thank you so much, but we have other plans that afternoon. We look forward to seeing you at soccer, though." If your child still wants to pal around with this kid, brainstorm structured activities rather than at-home play dates, like going to the movies or visiting a museum, so that there's a firm end time. Adds Smith, "If it's the other parent whose company you don't enjoy, arrange times for the children to play without the parent. Try, 'Lisa, why don't you drop Sara here and then take some time for yourself? That way you can get your errands done!'" Photo: Thinkstock
7. You're tired of fielding questions about your family composition, whether you have an only child or all girls.
Nosy people somehow feel entitled to wonder aloud about only children ("Isn't she lonely?"), larger families ("Didn't anyone ever teach you about birth control?!") or gender ("Wow, all boys, huh?"). Though it comes across as rude, in all likelihood they're not trying to offend you. Instead, it's curiosity combined with a lack of a filter that might otherwise keep their lips zipped. "I have five children, four boys followed by a girl, so I know all about this," says Francis. "In those situations, I usually assume positive intent, and brush it off." But if the questioners get really in-your-face or personal, "Look back at them with a puzzled expression, or say, 'I'm sorry, what did you say?' If they were just trying to be funny, they usually apologize or change the subject. If they were purposely being rude and repeat the question, they look like even bigger fools," she adds. A final thought: In most cases, these are perfect strangers commenting. So who says you have to answer at all? Walk away. Photo: Darrin Klimek/Thinkstock
8. Several parents failed to RSVP to your child's birthday party&mdashor, on the day of the party, they showed up with extra siblings in tow.
It's a fact of birthday-hosting: Some people just don't understand the need to respond in a timely manner. And if the party's at your home, they tend to be even looser about the rules. You are never going to change people's habits, so if you must have a firm number&ndash&ndashlike for a party at an outside venue&ndashyou may have to call or email them as a follow up. (You may find that, although some non-responders have poor RSVP manners, some may have never received or ended up losing the invite.) As for parents who show up without RSVPing? Smith suggests hinting at the inconvenience by saying, "We are so glad Henry could come after all! I wish I'd known. We'll set another place for him." (If you're at home, plan ahead for this possibility with extra food, goody bags, etc.) At a venue you've rented out or reserved for the occasion, you may be facing a small fee for the extra headcount, and you'll probably have to eat that cost. To deal with the non-invited siblings, Smith suggests saying: "Oh, I wish we had room for Henry's baby brother, but what we're doing here isn't really appropriate for three-year-olds. I can keep an eye on Henry come back at 3 pm to pick him up." Photo: Shutterstock
9. You and your child look very different from each other&ndash&ndasheither because you and your husband are of different ethnicities or your child is adopted&ndash&ndashand people always assume you're the nanny.
There is a level of rudeness that no one should have to politely talk herself out of. Says Smith, "Smile without saying a thing, and move away from that person." If you continue to get these comments, you may have to address your child's reaction as he grows aware of them. Have a conversation with him, in an age-appropriate way, with the goal of empowering him with a response, says Smith. Examples of your child's replies could include: "I grew in my mommy's heart, not in her belly" (in the case of adopted children) or "My mommy is white and my daddy is black and I am a human rainbow!" or "Mommy says we might have different skin, but we have the same smile." Photo: Thinkstock
10. Your child has been invited on a trip with her friend's family, and you don't know who is covering her expenses.
If you're not sure of something as important&mdashand potentially thorny&mdashas financial issues, "Being open and honest is the best way to go," says Smith. For all you know, the cost of your child's stay is negligible and the other parents are assuming they'll pay it (perhaps their child is an only, and bringing your child feels like a small price to pay in order to give her a companion). Or it could very well be that they're expecting you to pick up all or part of your child's tab. Your best bet: "Pick up the phone and call the other parents. Be sure you thank them first for their kind invite, then just ask, 'What costs should we cover for Tara?'" If they decline to take money from you, send your child with her own spending money, have her write a thank-you card afterwards and offer the family a small gift. Photo: Shutterstock
A writer and mother of two boys, Denise Schipani blogs at Confessions of a Mean Mommy.
1. “That’s ridiculous! How can you be upset about that?”
If you have a teenager in the house, you’ve probably seen him get upset about issues that seem insignificant or petty. You wonder how he can stomp into his room and slam the door just because his girlfriend didn’t text him back immediately. While his behavior might seem ridiculous by adult standards, try to refrain from invalidating his feelings. Think about a scenario where you’ve been upset and someone has brushed off your emotions. How did that make you feel? When a child believes his thoughts or feelings have been denied, not only does he feel more isolated, he’s liable to get even more angry, frustrated and moody.
When you’re feeling this way, I recommend that you bite your tongue and take some time to yourself to decompress and get back on track. Using these words to make your child feel badly for something he’s done will usually only serve to make your relationship with him more volatile. If your child thinks he has nothing to lose—including your affection—he will often act out more.
Get Rid of Guilt
“As adults, we have choices that we didn’t have as children, and we’re not required to always do what our parents want,” says Sharon Martin, a licensed clinical social worker in San Jose, CA. She’s the author of The CBT Workbook for Perfectionism and The Better Boundaries Workbook.
If you were raised to respect your elders, obey your parents, and please them at all costs, setting boundaries can seem foreign. Martin urges her clients to challenge that mindset. "Remember your parents’ inability to love, accept, and value you aren’t your fault, and don't have to do with your shortcomings.
“For example, consider whether you think it’s wrong to set boundaries, ask to be treated with respect, prioritize your or your immediate family’s needs above your parents’, or limit how much time you spend with your parents,” she says. “Would you tell a close friend that they’re wrong to do these things in response to yelling, manipulation, lying, harsh criticism, smear campaigns, or threats?”
9 Things Your Grandkids Want to Tell You
1. I wish I heard from you more.
Just because your grandchildren aren't reaching out to you doesn't mean they don't want to be in touch&mdashand those once-a-year holiday visits or birthday phone calls aren't always enough. Elizabeth Bower, coauthor with Sue Johnson and Julie Carlson of Grandloving, a book about connecting with your grandchildren, advocates setting aside time for one telephone or Skype session a week. "If you do this frequently enough, the child will prompt it," Bower says. "My son will say, 'I think we should Skype [his grandparents] and tell them what we did today.' You know it's working when the child initiates communication." But don't limit yourself to just the phone. "Every child loves to have his mailbox turned into a treasure chest, whether he lives next door or across the world," says Johnson. "It doesn't matter what you send him [even if it's just a short note], so long as you send something often." For her own grandchildren, Johnson keeps things simple by sending funny postcards or pages copied from coloring books . Plus, she gives her grandkids printed labels with her address on them, making it extra easy to send letters to her in return.
2. I can tell when you're playing favorites.
"In my grandmother's eyes, my cousin John could do no wrong," says Mara.* "She was always curious about his hobbies, friends and schoolwork, whereas she hardly asked me anything about my life." To avoid this, Johnson urges you to recognize that each grandchild is unique. "What my husband and I have tried to do is find out what makes each one tick and connect with them on that level," says Johnson. "That way, they become a favorite in their own right." She recommends setting aside some alone time with each grandkid whenever possible to find out what is meaningful and important to them. Singling them out will not only allow you to learn more about them, but it will also give them the confidence to be themselves and alleviate any pressure to be more like other members of the family.
3. I want to know more about you.
Don't let the stereotype of grandkids rolling their eyes when their grandparents tell stories about the "good old days" deter you from sharing your experiences. "My grandparents were really old-fashioned and didn't spend a ton of time with me or my brother," says Alexandra. "They had really interesting lives, but other than the occasional lecture about money, they didn't share much about themselves. I wish they'd told me more about their childhoods, the war and the depression, about meeting and falling in love and, as I got older, even some of the wild times they had. It would have been nice to get to know them as people instead of just the old folks who we had early dinners with once in awhile." While older grandchildren may be a more receptive audience for stories about your past, involving youngsters is also crucial&mdashespecially if you don't want certain family tales to be forgotten. According to Johnson, the best way to do this is to "tell stories about yourself when you were their age, to make them more meaningful." Adds Bower: "The more you can connect the stories to what is happening in their lives, the better. Photos also work really well to make them more interesting."
4. Some of your views are really outdated&mdashand even offensive.
Your grandchildren know that you were raised in a different era and therefore you have different views on politics and lifestyle choices, but some of your opinions may make them uncomfortable. "I once tried to explain that I wanted to marry for love and that my future husband might not be Ukranian, like our family," says Mara. "Let's just say that did not go over well." Echoes Nicole: "I wish I could tell my grandmother that being single over the age of 25 does not make you an old maid." While no one expects you to overhaul your entire belief system, expanding your view of what's acceptable can only bring you closer to your grandchildren. "Grandparents have to realize that times change, and that they should not try to impose their generations' values on their grandchildren," says Johnson. One way to do this, she says, is to share your opinions with humor rather than in a correcting tone. For example, say, "Can you believe that in our day we thought&hellip?" "Ask questions about what they think so you can contrast it with your own thoughts in a non-judgmental, neutral way," Johnson says. Bower points out, these situations can be teaching moments, as well as opportunities for grandchildren to figure out their own sets of beliefs.
5. Get online already!
Intimidated by the technology? If you want to get close to your grandkids, you'd better get a computer and log on to the Internet. "My grandmother was incredibly adept at using Facebook," says Amanda. "Being able to connect online every day made me feel so much closer to her, especially since it was hard to find time to catch up over the phone." While conquering the online world can seem daunting, using tools that help you connect, like Facebook and Skype, can be very rewarding. "We love chatting with our grandkids using Skype," says Johnson. "They can hold up the painting they just created or show us the moth that they caught. It's a way for us to feel more engaged with them. Once you've done it a few times you'll see how easy it is." If you're struggling to figure the technology out, the best teacher is your grandchild. Not only will it be a fun bonding experience for the two of you, it will give him or her confidence to be put in the "teacher" role for a change.
6. Don't ostracize me just because you're mad at my parents.
Tension within a family can make for awkward interactions&mdashespecially for your grandkids, who have to watch the drama unfold. "There were some disagreements between my grandparents and my father, and I ended up feeling like my grandparents were mad at me too," says Nick. "It got to the point where I was nervous to even contact them." While it can feel easier to avoid your children&mdashand their children&mdashaltogether, ostracizing your grandkids for something they didn't take part in will only cause hurt feelings. "Avoid taking sides," says Johnson. "Focus on the child, and not on the differences that you may have with his parent." Continue to communicate with him and take an interest in his life, keeping a fair distance between the issues at hand. "It is the wise grandparent who keeps the adult issues separate from the kids," says Johnson, who stresses the importance of showing your grandkids genuine love and affection through good and bad times. Reach out to them to make plans without their parents if you're far away, call them often to catch up one-on-one.
7. I wish you would take care of your health.
"One set of my grandparents walk regularly and are in great shape. The others don't and are practically immobile," says Nicole. "It's been so sad for us to watch them deteriorate." Your grandkids want you to make an effort to be healthy and happy, so that you can stick around for years to come. While everyone's capabilities differ, schedule an appointment with your doctor to discuss healthy exercise options for you. Something as simple as walking can boost your immune system and heart health, as well as lower your cancer risk. The better your health, the more quality time you will have to spend with your grandkids, and watch them grow from children to adults.
8. I wish you took an interest in my hobbies.
Your grandkids know that you love them, but taking a genuine interest in the things that they get excited about will help create an even stronger bond. Admittedly, it can be tough to carry on a conversation with shy toddlers or aloof teens. However, there are ways to foster healthy communication between the generations. "When you talk to kids, ask open-ended questions," suggests Johnson. "Instead of saying, 'Did you like the trip to the zoo?,' say, 'What was your favorite part of the zoo?'" This will give them an opportunity to be more communicative and let you into their world. As a grandparent you have to be a good observer and really listen to and watch what the child is doing, says Bower. "Try saying something like, 'You seem really interested in that train set. What about building it do you enjoy so much?'"
9. You don't need to send me a birthday check.
Birthday checks are generous, of course, but young kids don't really register what they're receiving, and older grandkids may start to feel guilty about receiving money as a gift. "Spending time together is more meaningful than money," says Johnson. "If you can find a way to be together for their birthday, it will make the day special." She also suggests giving them a gift that relates to a particular interest of theirs, or giving them an item that used to belong to you or their parent. "If there's an old toy truck that you used to play with, give it a paint job or a license plate with your grandson's name on it. Or give your granddaughter a doll that her mother used to play with, wearing a new set of clothing," suggests Johnson. By giving gifts with sentimental value, you'll open the door to discussions about your own childhood and what life was like when you were young, which is a great way to bond with your grandkids on a deeper level.
The accommodating conflict management style indicates a low concern for self and a high concern for other and is often viewed as passive or submissive, in that someone complies with or obliges another without providing personal input. The context for and motivation behind accommodating play an important role in whether or not it is an appropriate strategy. Generally, we accommodate because we are being generous, we are obeying, or we are yielding (Bobot, 2010). If we are being generous, we accommodate because we genuinely want to if we are obeying, we don’t have a choice but to accommodate (perhaps due to the potential for negative consequences or punishment) and if we yield, we may have our own views or goals but give up on them due to fatigue, time constraints, or because a better solution has been offered. Accommodating can be appropriate when there is little chance that our own goals can be achieved, when we don’t have much to lose by accommodating, when we feel we are wrong, or when advocating for our own needs could negatively affect the relationship (Isenhart & Spangle, 2000). The occasional accommodation can be useful in maintaining a relationship—remember earlier we discussed putting another’s needs before your own as a way to achieve relational goals. For example, Rosa may say, “It’s OK that you gave Casey some extra money she did have to spend more on gas this week since the prices went up.” However, being a team player can slip into being a pushover, which people generally do not appreciate. If Rosa keeps telling D’Shaun, “It’s OK this time,” they may find themselves short on spending money at the end of the month. At that point, Rosa and D’Shaun’s conflict may escalate as they question each other’s motives, or the conflict may spread if they direct their frustration at Casey and blame it on her irresponsibility.
Research has shown that the accommodating style is more likely to occur when there are time restraints and less likely to occur when someone does not want to appear weak (Cai & Fink, 2002). If you’re standing outside the movie theatre and two movies are starting, you may say, “Let’s just have it your way,” so you don’t miss the beginning. If you’re a new manager at an electronics store and an employee wants to take Sunday off to watch a football game, you may say no to set an example for the other employees. As with avoiding, there are certain cultural influences we will discuss later that make accommodating a more effective strategy.
Six Ways Parents Destroy Their Children Without Trying
The greatest gift you can give your children is to train the.
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God promises, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6).
Parents, who see one of their children hit the fan, often have a hard time appreciating this verse. In fact, as the homeschool movement ages there are more and more parents claiming the verse does not mean what it says, because it didn’t hold true in their experience.
Here are just a few of the reasons a child is lost to the world and how parents caused it to happen without even trying.
I say “without trying” because when children turn out poorly, as many do, parents are at a loss as to why. It is always unexpected—certainly unplanned. An eighteen-year-old is unthankful and rebellious, walks around like the family is his enemy and he has been enslaved and abused by them his whole life. Anger is his first response to everything and to nothing.
If you view old TV programs made 50 years ago of families relating to one another, they look like today’s ideal Christian homeschool family. Daddy is respected and honored and Mother is cherished. Family problems were always resolved with good cheer and forgiveness. Teenage morality was taken for granted. The future was bright and full of hope, and there was no state of rebellion in the kids.
In contrast, modern TV and movies usually represent today’s average family—accurately I might add—as dysfunctional psycho wards of vindictive anger and disrespect. In most movies the family is already divorced or going through the painful process. If a movie were made with a teenager loving his parents as they love their children and each other, and everyone with good cheer and hope for the future, it would be considered corny and unrealistic to the point that the only people who could relate to it would be the ones who stopped watching TV thirty years ago.
So I am going to tell you how kids come to a ruinous end without their parents exerting any effort or attention to the process at all. In fact, that is the first step toward sabotaging your children’s future—no effort and no attention.
1. Get so busy providing for them that you don’t have time for them.
Children are like plants growing every day. They need regular attention and direction.
When children turn out poorly, as many do, parents are at a loss as to why.
I plant a garden every year. And about half of the time I wait too long to stake my tomatoes. A small plant doesn’t need staking. and I tell myself I will stake them before it becomes critical. But it may rain for an entire week, or I get busy doing something else and can’t get around to it. The plant gets so big the stems fall on the ground. When the leaves of a tomato plant are exposed to the soil they quickly develop disease. When the fruit touches the ground it will rot about the time it should be getting ripe. This year I had a second late patch that I intended to stake but waited too long. I finally staked them but too late to prevent the disease.
It is not what I did it is what I didn’t do that spoiled the crop. So it is with children, they need constant pruning and fertilizing and training to grow up instead of down—to reach for blue skies instead of crawling along the ground. So the worst thing you can do for your children is just ignore them and allow nature to take its course. Plan on training them but never get around to it. Children need the constant sunshine of their parents’ smile and approval. They need to be pointed in the right direction day after day. They need admonition like a plant needs fertilizer. And as water activates the fertilizer, making it available to the roots, smiles activate our admonition making it available to the soul of the child. Children raised right grow up right, no exceptions. It is God’s certain promise (Proverbs 22:6).
2. Set a bad example.
The second thing parents do that will assure a bitter outcome for the children is to set a bad example.
Some people would say fighting in front of the kids has negative consequences. All fighting whether in front of the kids or in private will be destructive, but the most destructive things is not the fighting as much as how you fight and how it is resolved. I have known families that had big fights, but—I hope you can understand this—their fights were not personal. They were resolved as publicly as they were waged, and the public displays of anger did not create deep hurt in anybody. There are some loving souls that express themselves loudly and with emotion. They punctuate their points with explosive words and gestures, but they are equally as effulgent in their make-up and passionate love. Kids come to understand the heart of their parents and are more influenced by their intentions than their rhetoric. A wife of a certain temperament can scream at her husband that she hates him, and the children hear her saying, “I love you so much, you exasperate me to the point I could kick you just before we make love again.” The kids know the outcome is going to be as always, Mom and Pop making up and saying they are sorry and that they didn’t mean it and melting in each other’s arms. Public fights should be resolved in public so the kids can see the process of how it is worked out and how forgiveness and understanding occurs.
So the worst thing you can do for your children is…plan on training them, but never get around to it.
I have seen other families where the parents were careful to never fight in front of the kids, but the children are able to see the tension and ill will building, and they observe it being taken into the bed room where they occasionally hear muffled but raised voices. The parents come out not speaking to each other, followed by hours or days of emotional distance. Now that kind of fighting is indeed harmful to the children. They are able to read the souls of their parents and they feel the bitterness and hate in every moment of silence and self-control. Bad example. Leaf blight. Rotting fruit.
The bad example extends to every area of life. Any discipline you want your children to have you must exemplify it yourself. You can set a bad example in criticizing others, in carelessness with money, unthankfulness, unkindness, laziness, irresponsibility, and more. Be what you want your children to be and you will be providing the best training possible.
3. Expressing displeasure regularly.
This is a biggie. It is so subtle that parents don’t even know it is happening. I have observed parents relating to their children in intermittent displeasure and seen the negative effect it is having. When they ask my advice I have pointed out their destructive tendency to always criticize or show displeasure with their child. They are usually shocked and unbelieving. “I love my children,” they exclaim. And I respond, “But?” They fill in the blank, “But, he is so stubborn and willful, always doing the opposite to what I tell him.” And with exasperation, and what I detect as anger, they say, “I have spanked him and it seems to do no good I just don’t know what to do any more.” I follow up with, “You say he is stubborn most of the time how do you respond most of the time?” She answers, “Sure, I am displeased what else could I be I can’t be happy when he is so stubborn.”
It is a vicious cycle. A child’s bad behavior provokes looks of displeasure and looks of displeasure provoke bad attitudes leading to bad behavior. I have said it so many times. If you cannot train your children to do as they ought, it is far better to lower your standards and enjoy them as they are than to allow your looks of displeasure to become the norm. A kid may grow up to be undisciplined and self-willed, but there is no reason to add to it a feeling of being unloved and unable to please.
Any discipline you want your children to have you must exemplify yourself.
I am not suggesting that there is not a remedy that solves the bad behavior. I only emphasize that a vital part of stopping the bad behavior is to cease the cycle of looks of rejection, followed by more bad behavior, followed by more looks of rejection, followed by “I hate you and never want to see you again why did you have to be my mother/father?”
I have spoken of it elsewhere, especially in my DVD, The Joy of Training, and the article, The Flavor of Joy (found in the back of To Train Up A Child), so I will not go into detail here, but suffice to say, child training is causing the child to want to please you and be like you. They will want to please you only when they find pleasure in your presence. You must become the vital source of their joy if they are going to give up their rebellion and choose to exercise self-discipline and self-denial.
4. Not enforcing boundaries.
The next best way to destroy your children without trying is to fail to enforce boundaries. It is easy to do—to not enforce boundaries. Just love your kids and believe they will turn out OK as long as you do not create any self-loathing or feelings of rejection like we talked about above. Smile and believe in the innate goodness of their sweet little hearts, and trust that someday they will grow up and take responsibility for their actions.
It is easy to avoid enforcing boundaries because it is the path of least resistance. You don’t have to stir yourself or upset the kids. Let them do as they please—free expression, you know—and they will become your average normal reprobate. But at the least you won’t look like the party pooper. It is a do nothing job that has been left undone by millions of parents.
If children all came into the world disciplined and wise and willing to deny their impulses for the greater good, we could just leave them to free expression, but every parent knows better. All children come to us innocent but fallen. They are hedonistic, self-indulging hippies in their natural state. Left to themselves they will bring their mothers to shame (Proverbs 29:15).
Adults are supposed to be mature enough to choose the virtuous path and do what they ought to do even if is contrary to their desires. That is character, something that you’re not born with it has to be developed. And children don’t have character unless they are properly trained. Children do not see the need for self-denial or self-restraint. They feel desire and they do what feels good. So if a parent does nothing, their children will become quite schooled in the dark arts of self-indulgence. Therefore, parents must constrain their children to right behavior. In time their moral understanding will develop and they will begin to choose good, even when it is contrary to their carnal desires. Character is formed, and as training continues his character grows stronger until he matures into an adult.
5. Leaving them to choose their friends.
Many parents have done a good job in training their young children, and have put them on a path of virtue, but in their early teens they are influenced by their peers and yield to temptation while knowing it is not the right path. Even well trained children are flesh and are capable of falling into sin—just as is a moral, disciplined adult.
Kids are not wise. They do yet understand the consequences of wrong choices. They need guidance and oversight until they are about twenty years old—sometimes a little older. About the time kids graduate from college they are wise enough to discern good from evil. If you disagree with that assessment, explain spring break at the beach, or fraternity initiations. Woe!
It all starts very young. You must choose the social circle for your children and guard it. The quickest way to throw your children away is to enroll them in daycare or preschool or first grade. You lose all control over their friends, and they will become part of the social pool, eventually reduced to the lowest common denominator. If your child shares a pool with kids where just one of them has crapped in the water, your kid is swimming in crap. A few good kids don’t keep the water clean, but one bad kid pollutes it for everybody. I cannot remember the good kids in my third grade, but there were a couple bad ones I will never forget. I can remember their foul words and deeds to this day.
It all starts very young. You must choose your children’s social circle and guard it.
This is probably the hardest thing for a parent to do. It requires great effort and constant vigilance to sift your social circle. There are times your kids will not understand, and there are times that other parents are offended, but a mother hen should guard her chicks against the foxes and coyotes, regardless. It may require an adjustment to your lifestyle to protect your kids. A chicken that has roosted under a chicken hawk nest needs to move even if it is inconvenient. If your church is full of public school kids, you will need to keep your children at your side all the time and not allow them to get personal with a child going to public school. It becomes impossible to limit the social contact of a teenager in such an environment. They shouldn’t have the burden of constantly choosing or eliminating people from their acquaintance. Find a social circle that is righteous and productive where you have nothing to fear from 25 of the teenagers getting together to play soccer or go roller skating together.
Remember, they will evolve from you providing their complete social circle to choosing for themselves. You cannot control them past the age when they grow to be autonomous, so you must train them to wisely chose their friends. For the time will come when what you say has little bearing. Train them before they are ten and you can trust them when they are twenty.
6. Finally, you can destroy your children by not giving them any responsibility or holding them accountable.
Remember the key ingredient is “without trying.” Neglect or preoccupation is the culprit. It is operating under the assumption that somehow everything will work out. You are best suited to the task of training your children when you work under the assumption that they are destined to ruin unless you get proactive and do some things much better than the average parent.
Responsible action is the duty of all people, and accountability is the inevitable result of being part of a society where the principle of cause and effect is well understood. When there are two people in the room, insofar as they can have an effect on the other, each is responsible for his actions, and the law of love makes us responsible for our neighbor’s well-being. “Let no man seek his own [to advance self], but every man another’s wealth” (1 Corinthians 10:24). Seek to advance the wealth of your neighbor.
You should give your children responsibility according to their ability. A child who can walk should be held responsible to pick up his dirty clothes and put them in the laundry basket, clean up spills, and place his toy and books back where they belong. This is the foundation of all future responsible actions.
As they get older, they should be responsible to do their share in domestic chores. They should be held responsible to keep up with their boots and shoes if they take them off outdoors. If a kid loses his shoes he should have to work to make the money to buy a used pair at the second hand store. Even a five-year-old can appreciate the value of responsible action when he has to pay the price for irresponsibility. If a teenager throws a ball through the window he should pay to have it repaired.
Accountability is what you demand and exact when they are caused to answer for the way they have handled their responsibility. If you fail to hold them accountable, they are in fact not responsible. It is much easier to do it ourselves, but the children must learn, and the burden falls on us to stay involved for their sakes.
I have observed a beautiful principle. The children most accountable to act responsibly are the happiest and most secure in love and grounded in good will. You learn to love your neighbor one act of caring at a time.
This could have been a list of ten or fifteen ways parents destroy their children without trying, but these six are about all we can stand in one dose. I still believe the Word of God when it says, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6).
I know there has been a movement to disbelieve the passage as the Holy Spirit inspired it, but the fact remains that when they are trained right they stay right without interruption until they are old. I am an example of right training, as is my wife. My five children were trained in the way they should go and I now see all twenty of my grandchildren (more on the way) being trained that way. I expect a continuance of 100% positive results just as God promised. I will not lower the standard, and you should not lower your expectations because of the poor results others are experiencing.
It is difficult in our world “to train up a child in the way he should go,” and some very good and sincere people fail, not for want of personal righteousness, and not from want of trying, but from want of training the kids in the way they should go. Those who fail should not deny the standard but humbly admit their failure to have trained properly. They can analyze the reasons for their failure and have added wisdom to contribute to those parents who are still in the game training their kids.
Finally, if you have young children still in the process, but your oldest son has been a disappointment, don’t give up. Humbly ask your wayward son where you went wrong. It doesn’t matter what you said, or what you did, or what you intended the bottom line is what did he believe and feel. If you cannot let go of the anger and resentment toward him or you spouse, and you cannot humble yourself enough to listen to him instead of condemn, then truly there is no hope for the rest of your children.
I have seen families lose their first child to the world, but take it as a wakeup call, and revive their hearts and efforts, resulting in saving the other children from the same fate. Even if you failed with your first child, the promise is still true and you can “Train up a child in the way he should go,” knowing of a certainty “he will not depart from it.”
What to do if your child doesn't want to go to school
Struggling to get your child out the door and to school in the mornings? Dr Anna Cohen, Sydney's leading Clinical Child Psychologist from Kids & Co has these solutions.
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Many frustrated parents will be dealing with the phrase ‘I’m not going to school today’ as school returns for another year. If like most of these parents you find yourself feeling irritated and angry, you are not alone.
But overcoming the power struggle that follows will come down to having communication techniques set up to moderate your response and get your child on their way to class.
Don't lose control
Staying in charge of the situation will mean that parents should avoid the escalation trap of engaging in an argument.
Instead avoid the power struggle by waiting for your child to calm down, enabling you to constructively speak with them about any underlying issues or concerns.
Sorting out the crux of the problem will make going to school everyday more enjoyable. Image: iStock
The key is to identify the problem and find a reasonable solution that in the long-term will help your child enjoy going to school everyday.
Dr Anna Cohen, a leading Clinical Child Psychologist helps parents with strategies to get your child to school in the morning - without the kicking and screaming.
Giving children in your care the chance to express their feelings, needs, thoughts and ideas is an important way to understand why they may not want to go to school. Having a direct communication approach will be essential to finding out how you can help.
Make sure your children feel heard. Image: iStock.
Using constructive phrases such as ‘What are you trying the tell me’ or ‘What can we do to solve this problem?’ will open the line of communication for your child to talk to you, while helping to scaffold their problem solving, so they can effectively communicate with you and be heard.
Children are still developing their sense of self-esteem and confidence within their own abilities. One reason many children do not want to attend school is because they may feel overwhelmed about moving into a new year group, or are lacking confidence in their academic level.
This can cause negative connotations with school and may result in jealous or inadequate feelings.
Could it be lack of academic confidence that's making it hard for your child to want to go to school? Image: iStock.
Giving your child the message that conveys ‘you are capable and loved’ is crucial in helping your child feel valued, and will build their self confidence.
It is not possible to be an in-charge parent when you are arguing with your child. Even if you are feeling frustrated or angry, maintain a calm composure and avoid engaging in an immature and destructive situation as this will not lead to a successful resolution.
Place limits on screen time to make staying home less appealing. Image: iStock.
Make home days boring
Some children may want to skip school because they find home more fun. Help your child to transition from the school holidays by implementing more structure such as allocated screen time and regular bed times.
The solution could also be to make staying home from school boring. If your child is actually sick, don’t treat a sick day as a fun day.
Take care of them but don’t reward them with a movie day or treats as they will feel encouraged to take more days off.
Identify any problems
If you find your child is consistently avoiding going to school and shows signs of anxiety or panic there may be an underlying issue behind their resistance.
Children may experience stress from conflict with family or friends, starting a new school year, academic difficulties, bullying or disliking a teacher.
More could be going on than parents realise when kids are at school. Image: iStock
These factors may need to be focused on to find a solution, and it may be necessary to contact their teacher to find a resolution.
Avoiding going to school is not an issue that can be ignored it is something that needs to be tackled head on to avoid any long-term issues.
Most children will have a lack of motivation toward school following the school holidays, but having strategies in place that are encouraging and positive will help your child get back into routine and enjoying school.
The six essential parenting skills I wish I'd acquired before I had kids
A survey of 1,000 mums and dads of children aged 11-16 by the online learning service 8billionideas has revealed that the majority of parents wish they had been taught more practical skills at school and not just the typical subjects on the standard curriculum.
Among those mentioned were speaking in public, changing a tyre and putting up wallpaper, while 90 per cent believed that self-care skills were more important in adult life than algebra.
Which begs the question, who were the 10 per cent that thought they weren’t?
The truth is any parent’s life could be made that much easier if they had already mastered some of the genuinely useful skills that will, sadly, never appear on any curriculum and that won’t really be possible to learn once children arrive in their lives.
Advanced domestic science
Learning how to make a fruit salad or an apple crumble at school is not without its merits, certainly, but there are more important tasks that everyone should learn if they want to grow into an obsessive and frighteningly dull adult (like me).
That means tackling those domestic flashpoints that always arise like, for example, your kids refusing to replace an empty toilet roll or maybe cleaning the bath after they’ve used it. And everyone of all ages, without exception, should be taught how to load a dishwasher correctly. In fact, for the right fee, I’ll be the course leader.
New language classes
While the British are world-leading when it comes to queuing, we’re not so good at what to do when we’re actually stuck in one. That’s why every citizen could benefit from language classes, not in French or Spanish but in conversational small talk.
It’s not just queues. Engaging, say, with a tradesperson in your house or maybe with a taxi driver takes real skill and the ability to feign real interest is actually far more important than the topic of conversation, be that the weather or if the taxi driver has been busy that evening. Likewise, when you’re sat in a soft play centre talking to other parents you don’t know or have no intention of getting to know. Learn the lingo. Avoid the pain.
Coping with stress
Adult life can often be consumed by pressure at home, at work, in relationships. But you will never feel more pressure than when you are at the business end of an Aldi checkout. Yes, the anxiety of deadlines at work and financial pressures may give you sleepless nights but trying to survive the tsunami of produce and products hurtling towards you as an ever-lengthening queue of shoppers watch you drown. Nobody deserves that, especially if there’s a child or two tugging at your sleeves.
If you’re a parent then there will, inevitably, be times when you need to step in and diffuse some difficult and heated situations, be that between you and your partner or with you and your children. While mediation and conciliation have their place, I find the best way to ensure a lasting peace is to capitulate at the earliest possible opportunity in any disagreement, accepting you’re (probably) in the wrong before offering a weak, insincere and barely audible apology.
It’s an inverse variation of the late football manager Brian Clough’s style of dispute resolution. Once, when he was asked how he settles disagreements with his players, he said “We talk about it for 20 minutes and then we decide I was right.”
For communication read complaining. We’re hopeless at in this country. Yes, we love a gripe and a grumble but actually complaining? Not so much. There’s an art to effective complaining and it’s something we all need to study. It requires confidence and intent, focus and resolve, none of which you can really exhibit successfully once you have kids in tow.
It’s about projecting an aura of not taking no for an answer, rather than pathetically accepting whatever you’re told and skulking off into the distance, muttering.
Not so much in terms of squeezing more into your days or juggling the demands of kids and work but on matters like how to set the clock on the cooker because nobody knows how to do this, no matter how many times you may have read the instruction manual.
It many ways it’s like finding love. You can try time and time again but still never stumble on the secret of how to make it happen. Then there’s a power cut or the clocks change and you’re back where you started, randomly pressing all the little buttons, desperately trying to crack the code of which ones to push and when. And, like love, failing.
Tactics to Avoid
Don't allow your parents' reservations to destroy your relationship with your fiance or spouse. Studies show that parental disapproval of a spouse can create distrust, criticism, and conflict in a marriage. It can also be a recurring topic of your arguments that can drive a wedge between you both. If this happens, consider seeing a marriage counselor.
Don't permit the conflict to escalate to the point of destroying your relationship with your parents. Consider the consequences of a long-term estrangement from your parents and possibly your grandparents, siblings, and other extended family members. Realize that holding grudges and anger can harm your own health as well.