What’s an easy way to tick off a parent? Tell them how to parent, so… happy Mother’s Day. I’m going to give some parenting advice. After all, I am the parent of a 6 week old, so I clearly know what it takes to be a parent. Sarcasm aside (weird, right?), as a therapist who works with parents I need to be able to guide them in knowing how to be a better parent. As a professional (a term that simply means people are willing to pay me for help) I need to know what to say, but here’s the thing: There is no clear cut method that guarantees good children. Some kids thrive with gentle parents while others thrive with neglectful parents the kids rebel against. As someone who won’t advise parents to be terrible to toughen up their kids, here’s how I help. I use scales of -10 for too little, 0 for enough, and +10 for Too Much in order to escape making any personal claims on what they should do because really, who am I? That and a good therapist is supposed to avoid acting like a god who tells people what to do. Here are five things parents should consider when raising their kids:
- Discipline Enough: Every child needs discipline. It helps establish the hierarchy of parent over child, which helps the child feel protected because they can look to the parents for guidance and affirmation of good choices. Finding the line of what’s enough versus Too Little or Too Much is a dance that changes with each child. For instance, I needed a lot more discipline than my brother who was very compliant. I essentially made my parents earn their title of parents.
Too Little (-10)—————–Discipline Enough (0)—————–Too Much (+10)
- Listen Enough: Every child needs their parents to listen to them in order to feel valued. My mom was the best therapist I could’ve asked for, which means she was the healthy 0 in this category.
Too Little (-10)—————–Listen Enough (0)—————–Too Much (+10)
- Give Enough Stuff: Children benefit from toys and things, but our culture is breeding a generation of kids who have been given way too much, which has long term effects like ridiculously high expectations and being sad over nothing. My parents would’ve loved to have given us more, but fortunately they knew their financial limits, which coincided with a healthy amount of what we were given. This limit encouraged all three of their kids to get jobs by eleven years old and be more independent financially.
Too Little (-10)—————–Give Enough Stuff (0)—————–Too Much (+10)
- Protect Enough: As one teacher told me, twenty years ago if the child was failing the parent scolded the child whereas now if a child is failing the parent scolds the teacher. Children need to know their parents will protect them, but there is definitely a line that is too much. At the same time, CAS deal with a lot of parents on the other extreme who are neglectful in this area. As always we need the middle ground.
Too Little (-10)—————–Protect Enough (0)—————–Too Much (+10)
- Annoy & Frustrate Enough: Every parent should be annoying at some level because otherwise the child will never leave home. I lived with my mom until I was 35. She was arguably not annoying enough… although I’d contend she was the perfect amount because we have such a healthy relationship and I was living at home in a mutually beneficial arrangement. Being annoying on some level helps the child learn how to better handle living with someone who doesn’t bow to their every whim, which is necessary in their future marriage.
Too Little (-10)—————–Annoy & Frustrate Enough (0)—————–Too Much (+10)
This week may you consider if you are treating your kids properly and/or see where your parents went wrong in order to adjust what you are doing now.
Rev. Chad David, ChadDavid.ca, learning to love dumb people