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Top : Parents Corner : Are Your Kids Out Of Control, Or Are You?

Are Your Kids Out Of Control, Or Are You?

~ Mark A. Bradley

Little Johnny just threw the cat across the room and dumped the coffee table over, spreading every magazine in the house all over the floor. Little Sally just swallowed the goldfish and had a tea party for all eight dolls she has, using real tea. The dog just discovered the roast you left out for dinner, and ate it. Now heís sick and has decided to give you the roast back, in your lap. The cat may recover, after $200.00 at the vet.

Sound like a typical day? Probably not. I hope not. Theyíll be fitting you with a special jacket with lovely buckles in the front. They are a little confining, but they fit great.

No, this is probably not the typical day for most of you. Oh, you may have one, two, four kids running around and being just as obnoxious as they possibly can. You may even have great kids and then there is that one that just makes up for all of them. Whatever the case, I am here for you. I have been shackled (uh, blessed) with watching seven kids for the last year. I only have four that I am willing to claim, yet my sister-in-law has decided to almost double my blessings by adding hers to the mix for the last year. I have had four boys and three girls, with ages ranging from 3 to 14, fighting for some kind of superiority and control in this house. I feel your pain; daily.

Now, you donít have to listen to me on this subject. There are a multitude of people spouting all sorts of psyco-babble that is designed to help you with your kids, help you control the outrageous behaviors that they exhibit and regain the sanity in your life. Donít believe me? Turn on the TV and check out who is on Oprah today. Maybe Maury has someone on to help with the tykes. Phil got his own show.

My problem with all of them is that there is no spiritual basis for their advice. Most often times, they will tell you to communicate better with your child and make them understand about how they are just as equal in the hierarchy as you are. They want you to be better friends with your kids. You should be more understanding of what they are going through. You should listen to them about how to solve their problems.

Donít you believe it for a second. I have a novel idea. Why donít you be the parent for a while? Iíll go one better; make rules in your house and set boundaries about what is acceptable and what is not. Set punishments for when, not if, the rules are broken. Hereís a word that is not often heard; discipline. That does not only mean what happens when something goes wrong. Discipline is a systematic order that you live is lived. Your kids need that kind of discipline as well.

Listen, you should talk to your kids. You should be able to sit down with them and talk about whatever crosses their minds. You are there to listen and to guide them through their problems. But having them as equals in the house is not a bright idea. If they are equal, then what purpose do you serve? If they solve their own problems and live their own lives, what are, the cook and the chauffer? They are going to develop their own lives eventually. But they had better have some kind of discipline to their lives before that time starts, or you will be getting calls to bail out your child.

Letís start at the beginning. You and your significant other (of the opposite gender as you) have a child and you begin to raise the little tyke. You have a host of decisions to make, and none of them concern the name. You need to decide right now, if you have not already, how the two of you are going to handle the discipline problems of the little one. I say that because you need to plan for these things when you are not in the heat of the moment, and there will be times when the heat of the moment will try to take over any and all rational thought. If both of you are set on a particular course of action, then it makes it that much easier when the moment of truth comes. You wonít like it, but it is necessary. You can change the methods of what you do, but never change the course itself. If you start out and want your child to be respectful, loving, and an all around good kid, then you will have to show them how to be just that. They are not going to pop out and be the perfect angel, no matter what grandma says.

You need to be consistent in how you deal with the child, and that goes for the both of you. This also goes back to the planning stage. If Dad has just grounded the ten year old for shooting pellets through MRS. Johnsonís window, then Mom cannot be giving the child permission on going over to Billyís house later. Why? Because you have just undercut the authority of one of the parents. If little Johnny knows he can get away with the crime and escape Dadís punishment by going to Mom, then the two of you are defeating each other, and hereís how. Johnny comes home from school and breaks a vase. Mom gets mad and decides to ring out the worst line ever. ďWait till your Father gets home.Ē Donít ever say that. Youíre a parent, too. Act like one. Johnny has escaped the wrath of Dad so often, that he no longer cares about getting punished. He gets ready to leave the house to go play. Mom tells him to get back in the house. Is he going to listen? No, because you are not an authority figure to him. Youíre one of his buddies that get him out of trouble. Your authority is shot. Dad tries to get him back inside, but that doesnít work either. See, you already took the Dad out when you showed Johnny how to get around him.

Now picture your son or daughter at sixteen. The world is not getting any better. In fact, TV and magazines are teaching kids how to be better lawyers to plead their cases to get what they want. Theyíre teaching them to be better liars. Now, with the world the way it is and your teen having zero respect for any authority, what are the chances that he or she is going to come home and not been involved in behavior that might send them to jail? Your chances are very good indeed. In fact, you might want to pray that they come home at all.

Now then, I have heard that some parents have control over their kids by beating the crud out of them. I am a proponent of corporal punishment, but not like this. If you are beating your kid, then two things are happening. One, you are gaining hatred from them. They are not going to respect someone that thrashes out of anger and not a controlled discipline. You are a bully to them. That is all. Second, you are committing an act of abuse. You are a criminal and deserve to be locked away for being stupid.

Some kids bruise easy. I get that. My wife is that way. We wrestle for fun, and she gets all dinged up. They donít hurt, but she gets them real easy. I say that to say that sometimes the punishment is not as bad as it looks. And yes, it is supposed to hurt. That little memory of the consequence may be all that stands between them and something that will be worse. But, I have seen some idiots that claim to be disciplining their kids and drawing blood. WRONG ANSWER. Bloody lips and broken bones is not discipline. Trying to punish a child while you are wearing your anger is not discipline. If you are not in control of yourself, then how do you intend to gain control over your kids?

One last thing. I mentioned talking to your kids. I believe that if you canít talk to your kids, you are in for a world of hurt later in life. You need to be a part of their lives for the rest of their lives. Make sure that they are going to want you there. If you are reason they leave home as soon as they can, then you have not done your job. Being a parent does not always mean you are the supreme ruler of their world. They do need to make their own decisions and start to develop their own lives. They also need to do these things with a little supervision and a lot of guidance. Notice I said guidance. That means that they can ask all the questions they want. If their decision is within the boundaries that you set, then you have to let them go and try it out for themselves. If you see the problem beforehand, you can make a suggestion that might make it better for them. It is only a suggestion. Do not be offended when they tell you they donít like it, and be ready to catch them when they fall. They will fall. Just donít let them fall too far. And they can do all of this and you will still be in control. How? Easy. You are the one that decides when they get to start this little adventure. How much responsibility and how far it goes is still up to you. When they have successfully passed the watermark, then let them have a little more. Let them build trust and confidence, both in you and themselves. They will also build trust that you have in them.

When that trust gets damaged, donít start them all the way back to the beginning. They have to know that all is not lost if they make a mistake. That is too much pressure for most adults, much less a teenager. If they know that they screwed up and that they have a chance to repair the wall stronger than before, then they will take that chance and bust their behinds to get it done. I know. I have a teen. She has been building that wall for the last four years. It has been damaged a time or two, but she worked real hard to rebuild it. Now, she is starting to spread her wings and try a couple of new things. Not too many. I donít know if I could take it.

Look, they are going to grow up no matter what we do. They get bigger, ask more and more questions, and start to want to leave the house more and more to begin their lives and be their own person. Make sure that they will want to come back and see you. That is something that you are in complete control over.

Submitted on : 26-May-2005


"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight." Proverbs 3:5-6

Top : Parents Corner : Are Your Kids Out Of Control, Or Are You?

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