Parenting these days is tough with a capital T. It’s so difficult to find a balance between what you know is important to instill in your children and all of the other stuff that magazines and blogs tell us about raising kids. According to the magazines, one wrong move too far toward disciplining children will surely land them in therapy where they will work through their anger issues over all of your “unreasonable demands.” Well, I hate to be difficult, but I sometimes wonder if half of the people who write those articles even have kids. And I certainly wonder if their kids are even remotely pleasant to be around.
Because there is one element of childhood that is really missing in lots of kids’ lives these days, and it is the undeniable, honest truth that KIDS ARE NOT IN CHARGE.
At least, they shouldn’t be.
But, go into any restaurant or grocery store and you will see hoards of parents acting like kids rule the world. I have to admit, I’ve been guilty of it myself. It’s easy to slip into patterns that send the message, “Hey, kid, you’re the boss and what you say goes. I’m only here to try and create a life that is in line with your every whim.”
Think about it. You’ve probably done it, too.
Like when you ask your toddler if you can put her shoes on her.
Or when you let the kids choose the restaurant.
When you make three different dinners to please three different kids.
When you are afraid to tell the kids to go play when you are having an adult conversation.
The truth is that kids aren’t born expecting to get to make all the decisions and run our lives. They actually depend on us to do that. But, we can quickly teach them that they are in charge when we are so worried about valuing their opinions that we consider their opinions above all else.
When we instill an “I’m in charge” mentality in our kids, we’re inviting them to disrespect teachers, police officers, clergy, waiters, cashiers, and anyone else they come into contact with. I mean, if we are always living just to please them, then they will expect everyone else to do the same.
We are actually doing our kids a great favor when we send them this message instead: “I am going to make the decisions and take care of things. All you have to do is sit back and enjoy being a kid.” I think they are happier, better adjusted, and more fun to be around when they know that they aren’t in charge.
After all, you’re a grown up. You know that being in charge isn’t usually all that fun. Our kids are better off when we clearly show them that they aren’t the decision makers and they don’t always get their way. In the end, I think it causes them less stress and makes them more pleasant people to be around for the rest of their lives.