As a childcare provider, and an older one at that, I’ve noticed a trend; parents aren’t necessarily parenting anymore. Children have control of the household, and parents are jumping through hoops to make the children happy, and in return; teachers, babysitters, nannies, and other childcare givers are having a more and more difficult time making sure children are safe, not hurting others or each other, teaching, preparing meals etc. Families too are suffering the consequences by having a chaotic home.
New parenting techniques of not telling children “no”, and distraction, instead of consequences isn’t teaching our children how to function in the world as they get older. This trend is making administrators, and teachers spend more time keeping order in the classroom then teaching children academics which is what they are supposed to be doing. Without boundaries at home when children are sent into a world that does have boundaries in order to function as a community they aren’t equipped with HOW to understand, function or react to those boundaries.
Parenting is one of the hardest things you will ever do but it is more than just making sure your children are happy, and well taken care of. It is also the difficult part of discipline (I know that word is explosive these days) but discipline doesn’t mean spanking or physical discipline. Proper discipline teaches consequences and responsibility, not to mention, teaching children to make good choices. Good clear boundaries with consistent consequences good or bad teaches our children how to be a considerate, empathetic, and caring adult with a healthy amount of respect for authority.
If you find you are being a slave to your children; that you are making 2-3 choices for dinner, finding their lost items, cleaning their rooms, doing their laundry, facing huge temper tantrums when the children don’t get their way then you have lost control of your family, and though “control” may not be the best choice of words it is what you are expected to do for your children and family in order to take care of them.
By not taking control of your family you might be running the risk of raising insecure children. You may be asking why; and the simple truth is your kids know they are in control of the family, and in the back of their mind if the family is in danger who will take control; they know they aren’t equipped to handle a fire, a tornado, or a burglar? They may not feel safe in your ability to protect them, keep them safe, etc because you’ve never shown them that (in their developing minds) you are in control.
In every society and community there has to be rules and consequences in order for there to be order. A family is a micro-community and society, and many are operating with no rules and consequences and thus there is no order, and chaos is in it’s place.
If order is an important part of being part of society then doesn’t it stand to reason that order should be part of our home life? Discipline, rules, control doesn’t need to look like the old days when children were “seen and not heard” but there is a balance of getting input from our children, and knowing as an adult what is best for your family that isn’t open for discussion. Family vacations input, playing on the roof no input. Nutritious meals “some input”, sweets and high sugar diet no input. Drinking alcohol at an early age no input, setting an appropriate age for alcohol consumption input. Of course, you, as parents, ultimately have the say as to what children should have input and not; but at the very least begin the process of setting rules and consequences starting at an early age. I promise life as a parent will get easier, and if you begin when the kids are older all I can say is give it time, and be consistent for at least 3 months for real change to take hold. Once the change has begun your life as a parent will be easier, and your children will become more independent, secure, and and able to contribute positively in family discussions and society as a whole.