…more of a Public Service Announcement, really.
My kids, though admittedly not perfect (Who is, really? No, no… not even me. Stop it.), are fabulous. They are caring, polite, and unspoiled. Jim and I get complimented often on how well we raised them, and the boys get complimented often on how they, well, ARE.
People act as if having well-adjusted kids is something so rare it could be a sideshow act in a circus. It’s not; it’s actually attainable by anybody.
Here’s the deal, people. Do you know what kind of voodoo magic Jim and I have used for the last just-about-eighteen years in raising our kids?
What have we done? What’s our secret?
We refuse to take the easy way out. We do things in ways that require hard work (and sometimes, hard emotions), but the payoff is much greater than it would have been, had we pressed that Easy Button. What does this mean? I’ll tell you.
~We have always tried to be consistent. When we say “No,” we mean it. Likewise, when we say “yes,” we mean it.
~We follow through with what we say we’re going to do. We don’t offer empty promises of consequences–or rewards!–on which we aren’t ready to act.
~We don’t give in to every whim.
~We aren’t afraid of our kids being annoyed with us.
~We don’t conduct ourselves like we’re best buds with our boys.
~We show our boys that we work hard for what we have, and we expect them to do the same.
~We have certain expectations of our boys, and they know that, as long as they put their best effort forward, we are happy.
All of that was going on starting from their youngest days, in age-appropriate nuggets.
When you parent, you are always building on what you have previously taught. Always. You don’t start setting a child’s moral and ethical compass when they are kindergarten-aged; if you wait that long, you’re making so much work for yourself that you might never catch up, not to mention the bad habits you’ve taught yourself.
~The reward for being consistent? Our boys are secure in knowing what to expect from us.
~The reward for following through? We don’t have kids who laugh in our face when we give them consequences for something they’ve done.
~The reward for not giving in to every whim? Our kids are appreciative for what they have, and truly appreciate little surprises. I bring home somebody’s favorite pretzels or pack of gum from the grocery store, and it’s as if I’ve given them something much greater.
~The reward for freely allowing our kids to be displeased with us on occasion? They know that emotions like unhappiness and anger are, unfortunately, a normal part of life, and they aren’t permanent. They also know that we love each other through all emotions, not just the happy ones.
~The reward for not being buddy-buddy with our boys? Mutual respect, and really, super-great relationships with them as parents and children/young men.
~The reward for showing them that we work hard and expecting that they do the same? Again, appreciation for what we have and the desire to reach higher. We have kids who expect to help pay their own way through college, and as you remember, expect to buy their own car with their own money.
~The reward for setting certain expectations? THEY MEET THEM.
Though everyone obviously has their own way of parenting and I can only really worry about my own family, I always shake my head at the parents who give in to their kids (in all different ways) on a regular basis* because I know what they’re in for later on. Personally, I’d much rather do the work ahead of time and reap bigger rewards later than succumb to the quick “fixes” that will require real repair later.
I guess, if I had to end this post with a really corny metaphor, I believe that parents are better off accepting that raising children is sort of like sailing a boat: it’s much better to develop a sail plan with an ultimate destination and learn the skills to adjust the sails as you go rather than just taking the boat out and going wherever the wind takes you**.
*Don’t get me wrong; I give in to my kids in certain ways, on occasion; I save it for when I know it will be appreciated.
**REALLY corny. Sorry.
©2010 Suburban Scrawl