Letters to the Editor: On rearing good children

Children are precious gifts from above. If you are a parent then you are blessed to have folks that think you are a rock star.

For those of you with small children, look at how they react when you come home every evening or pick them up from school. Isn’t that the most excited anyone has ever been about you? I remember hearing the band sing out and the parade get started at the knowledge that I was home: “Mommy” would be the tune!

Wow, did you ever know that you could be loved like that or that you could love like that. Even now at my children’s age I must admit no one looks at me the way that they do, or thinks of me the way that they do. And I don’t think anyone else ever will. I am their hero. And I think they are the best things since sliced bread.

And to those who aren’t parents, well, be grateful that your heart is not ruined like us parents and that you still have a sane thought in your head. In other words, count your blessings in whatever station that you are in.

But the question to parents these days is do we love them; these precious gifts from above? I mean really love them; even enough to say no and to set boundaries?

Good parenting is about being comfortable with being a little bit uncomfortable seeing your child momentarily uncomfortable about a particular thing in order for them to be comfortable in life. I know that seemed confusing but read again slowly and work with me; I am a work in progress. How many times has your little baby cried when you took him away from the light socket or just in time so he didn’t burn himself? Didn’t it just break your heart to see him cry that you dared stop his progress? But you understood why you did it right? So why do we continue to second guess ourselves when we make our children momentarily uncomfortable for their own good? I mean for Pete’s sake, kids are supposed to be embarrassed by you; it’s the rules and we parents must have some fun.

But seriously, there are times when we have to trust that our children will come around and even though they “hate” us right then, that when it really counts they will understand and really won’t “hate” us and if they still do, then it’s their loss and that’s that. I love my kids enough to be a pain in their foot and to stop fun if it means it is for their own good. I have taken my teenagers to parties and didn’t like what I saw and demanded that they get back into my car and then cried all the way home with them. I cried because it hurt me to hurt them but as a parent that momentary discomfort had a bigger picture attached that was far more important than letting them have their way and fall prey to something that was undesirable and sometimes irreparable.

Sometimes we just have to grit our teeth to ensure that our child learns the tools for the world. We must ask ourselves what we are preparing them for when we are afraid to say no or always give in to their every whim when as adults they will need the tools to handle those times. If we are afraid to teach them what the real world is really like in a safe and loving environment then we are just setting them up to fail in a world that is not loving when it comes to wrongdoing. We should love our children enough to say no to them if need be, to put boundaries and to discipline them and understand the difference between discipline and abuse or cruelty. A lot to ponder but there also must be a balance that we have to find.

Do you remember the question that was asked many years ago in the public service announcements; the one that said “Do you know where your children are?” Well those days aren’t so far away that we no longer need this question. In fact we probably need it more now than we did then. We should know where our children are at all times. And we should know who their friends are. It’s our job to know who they are associating with and who will help to edify them or otherwise. This is a “need to know” situation in life. And if we can’t be there we should always have good care and supervision for them when we aren’t around. If you don’t like someone or their ways then they should not be caring for your children and I am also referring to live-in nannies.

Sometimes we view parenting as a lot of work but if you put the work in early with the right foundation then the hard part is done. Like building a house without a good foundation eventually will cause it one day to crumble. It is the same with giving a child their way right now. It may seem easier but in the long run it really comes back to haunt you. Defiance, rudeness and being manipulative is not cute when they become adults so find no excuse for it now. Parents balk about the voice of authority, but think about it. If that little guy is in charge, who should really be afraid? This little guy doesn’t work or pay bills and can’t really make decisions for the family or your life but yet he gets to do whatever he wants. Get a backbone and some smarts and be the parent and set some ground rules. I figure if you are not old enough to go to work, pay bills, keep the home running then you are not old to enough to run the show. And we should stop wasting time arguing with folks who have no reasoning ability and cannot understand what you are trying to say. Especially folks who think that candy is dinner and bedtime is never. These are not rational individuals and yet we are arguing with them.

Even though guilt is very common; being a parent, it really only belongs on the heart of your mother who has mastered it down to a science when she reminds you of everything that she has done for you and all that you have not done for her and how much you owe her; she is the guilt master so save that for later. This should be reserved for you after you have raised the rug rats; not for you feeling guilty that you are not doing enough. You have it all mixed up; ask your mom, she knows. And of course I am only kidding! Wink Wink!!

And if you are in need of assistance with child rearing from an old school psychologist then pick up a book by John Rosemond titled The Six Point Plan to Raising Happy Healthy Children; it will save you a lot of time and energy. This man saved my life when I was at serious war with a two-year-old and his four-year-old brother; both in cahoots to conquer their frazzled mother. Those two are now in university together and quite well behaved, I might add, thanks to some good old fashioned old school rules and new school brand. And I too ask wherever did the time go?

But more importantly parents, because they watch everything that you do, be a good example, be accountable and don’t just talk the talk, but walk the walk. They deserve for you to love them enough to put your foot down when need be and set a good example. I mean after all, you are their rock star!

And tell me how your week is going at [email protected] and check out my website at www.somebodysmama.com. And while you’re at it grab a copy of I’m Somebody’s Mama at your local bookstore.