Sometimes parents seem to quit being parents even before their children leave the house.
Have you experienced anything like this?
Two families are going out to eat together. They have been looking forward to this evening. One couple has no children. The other couple has two children, a 4 year old and a 6 year old. The children are going with them that evening. That is understood from the beginning. The other couple is fine with this arrangement.
One couple drives to the other couple’s home and they all leave for the restaurant together. On the way, the four year old announces that he wants to go to McDonald’s.
Child — “I want to go to McDonald’s.”
Parent — “Stevie, we are not going to McDonald’s.”
Child — “I want to go to McDonald’s!”
Parent — “Did you hear what I said?” (Hearing check)
Child — “I don’t like that restaurant! I want to go to McDonald’s!”
Parent — (looking at the other couple) “You don’t mind if we go through the McDonald’s drive-in do you? We will get his meal and then we will go on.”
Again and again it happens. Parents shrug their shoulders while their children are allowed to control the family. In far too many families, young children are allowed to dictate what the family is going to do and where the family is going. Often the energy of parents seems to be focused on letting the little guy “be himself” with no restraint or direction. Consequently, the child may be allowed to do whatever he wishes while mom and dad stand by and smile.
The following are some opportunities that might really bless a child:
1. Allow this child the opportunity to learn the value of waiting for gratification. When mom and dad jump every time he wants a coke, candy, or a toy, they deprive this child of the opportunity to learn that sometimes the better experiences come later if one is willing to wait.
2. Allow this child the opportunity to learn how to act when he is with people. Parents do a child no favor when he is allowed to act obnoxious and rude around others. I remember one occasion when a number of people were in a home and a small child began jumping up and down on the sofa. The parents saw this child do this and did nothing. Of course, the child begins to be labeled “out of control.” How sad for the child because this could be prevented if mom/dad would deal with him and not neglect the situation.
3. Allow this child the opportunity to be shaped early in life instead of having to unlearn bad habits later on. One thing is true about raising children: “Pay now or pay later.” You can invest the time and energy in your children when they are young. Or, you can close your eyes to their misbehavior. However, you will probably have to pay later because you chose not to do the hard work in the early years.
4. Allow this child the opportunity to experience things that are challenging and even difficult. We do a child no favor by always looking for the soft, easy way for him. Seeking what is soft and easy for your child is a good way to keep him from ever developing any confidence so that one day, when he is older, he can accept new challenges.
What has been challenging to you in raising your children? (if you have children) What have you learned that you wish you had known earlier?