Attention! Attention! Kids are ruling the roost at an extraordinary rate! This is the scoop! No ifs, ands, or getting them off their butts about it!
Enter: a bedraggled, divorced mother of unknown age drags herself home from a grueling day in the office cubicle. There, glued to a flashing, soon to be repossessed, wide screen, the sound so loud the dog is howling, a stocky, unkempt boy with body rings offers no congenial greeting, only the rude crunch of chips and meaningless gibberish directed at a bunch of tattooed, smart-mouthed clones on TV. Struggling to start dinner and get a load of laundry going, she directs a glare of disgust at this big lug now demanding a can of Dew and a box of Ding Dongs. It turns out, the kid just needed an attitude adjustment. Ten years later he’s a great guy, and taking good care of his mother!
What turns a pink-cheeked, cooing, bubbly babe into an irresponsible monster out of control? It’s been said that the lack of appropriate, consistent discipline early on can lead to disobedience and a rebellious nature. Experts advise parents to work together on discipline, never disagree in front of the child, and to always carry through with the punishment threatened. How many broken threats does it take before the child knows he has the upper hand? Right!
If the adult remains confident and unwavering, time and time again, concerning disciplinary situations, the child will usually respect and accept it early on. It seemed so uncomplicated when Mom would warn, “Just wait until your father gets home!”
Parenting is the greatest and most important challenge a person faces in life. You’d think a child surrounded by love, positive attention, and affection from the womb onward would automatically respect his or her nurturers, but there are countless roadblocks, detours, and dead ends the young encounter along their way that steer them in the wrong direction. Others manage to rise above a dysfunctional upbringing, even though many are forever scarred emotionally and carry around the burden of abuse throughout their lives.
“As long as anger lives, she continues to be the fruitful mother of many unhappy children.” –John Climacus
There was a time when parents could get away with, “Don’t do as I do; do as I say.” There seemed to be a more natural and lingering innocence in children years back… before computer crimes against kids, the societal collapse of moral standards, rampant materialism, and adult expectations for the very young, all but wiping out childhood’s simple pleasures. They become too smart for their own good soon enough!
Take a chill pill and let the little ones breathe their own air. Teach – don’t preach! Seize every opportunity to praise and encourage a youngster. Positive parenting may make sense on paper but is no simple task. I’m just a grandma who’s lived and learned, missed the point, screwed up royally, continues to learn, and once in awhile does something right.
It’s long past – the era of a warm and fuzzy childhood, the suburban ideal, Sunday School, “Father Knows Best,” Captain Kangaroo, daily home-cooked meals, neighborhoods lively with children at play, and red plastic Big Wheels rumbling up and down cement sidewalks. “NO” meant no! Respect was understood.
Young people need parents (and grandparents) as disciplinarians, as moral examples, for guidance, and tough love. Friends they have, who are on the same wavelength (naïve). Often you hear, “My mom is my best friend.” My daughter Kelly is my best friend. She’s 42 years old. Give them time. Maybe God isn’t finished with them yet.”
Children are the flowers of our hearts! Those who plant the seeds are entrusted to give them what they need to blossom and flourish. Children do rule…they rule our consciences, our common sense, our emotions, and our moralistic behavior (in an ideal situation).
When we falter and stumble, love will bring us back…together.
Janet Burns lives in her hometown of Lewiston. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.