140 One-liners No. 2 - 006-010

140 One-liners No. 2 - 006-010

parents talk to teen

A Closer Look at One-liners 006-010

One-liners 006 to 010

If what you are doing is not working, change what you are doing.

Many people go through life bemoaning the fact that they continually face the same difficulties. They still choose to continue along the same path without deviation. Imagine you have attempted many times to travel to the town of Happyville but along the way, you continued to take the turnoff to Grumpsville. How many people in Grumpsville will listen to you complaining about being there? If they were game to speak, the Grumpsville residents would tell you to go back along the road and make the turn to Happyville. No-one can do that for you; you would have to make three decisions. The first is to backtrack out of town; the second is to make the correct turnoff to Happyville. The third choice is to stay on the road until you get to the place you wanted to be.

Let's say a bridge along the way to Happyville is under repair and you need to make an eight kilometre (5mI) detour. As you approach the detour, you see a group of cars pulled up on the side of the road with a large crowd of unhappy people milling around. Even though the detour is well signposted, the people are complaining about heading away from Happyville. So you ignore the majority and decide to take the detour, and you finally arrive at your desired destination.

To make positive changes in managing children you sometimes might need to get off the merry-go-round of unfruitful reactions and communication styles. Realising your need for change would be the first step. Then think back to the place where you turned off the road and get back on track.

If you treat your child as if they were the most important person in the world they will expect the same treatment from everybody.

Constantly we need to keep in mind the fact that we are preparing our children for real life. It is unlikely that anyone out there in the big bad world will care about your child the way you do. So if you treat your child as if they were the most significant person in the world they will be set up to make comparisons with others and see themselves as superior.

In my experience, not many people like to be around a person who sees themselves as better than anyone else. Think about the problems that can occur with friendships, marriage, work, and social gatherings. Unless they have learned otherwise, the spoilt child, when they grow up, will be faced with alienation, rejection, ridicule and even hostility.

Spoilt children often view the benefits of life from a position of entitlement rather than from a position of privilege. The attitudes and responses to gifts and favours will be worlds apart. On so many occasions, a person who focuses on personal rights will not show the type of appreciation that helps relationships grow, while privilege fosters appreciation, humility and reciprocal responses.

An emotionally stable home is one where the children see their parents as the most important individuals in the home. When children see their parents working together as a team, showing respect and love to one another and viewing the world from a privileged perspective, it provides security for them. Children who are spoilt often miss out on the opportunities to learn humility, turn taking, empathy, resilience, resourcefulness and patience. In other words, they develop a faulty character, and they are forced to learn many social graces the hard way if they learn them at all.

Parents should have a 'presence' of authority, confidence, friendliness, assertiveness, empathy, strength, firmness and affection.

No! You might say that these are the qualities that sit in the background as ingredients to give your interactions with your children a particular flavour that varies depending on the situation. The important point to be made is that even one negative ingredient will spoil the taste. Some of these negative ingredients are impatience, aggression, anger, irritability, crankiness, weakness and lack of empathy. To illustrate the importance of parents having these qualities, I have summarised a lengthy discussion into a few pointed statements.

  • If a parent does not have an air of authority at the right time, children will take it as a sign of weakness and will not respect the parent because they would expect them to be in charge.
  • If the parent lacks in confidence, the children may see the weakness and take advantage of it, putting more pressure on the father or mother.
  • Parents can still be friendly while taking charge of a situation. In certain circumstances, the firmer qualities will need to have precedence over friendliness.
  • Assertiveness is not aggression. It is a firm, confident and unemotional presentation of the facts. We call this approach being authoritative, not authoritarian.
  • Wise parents think about the child's emotional state and have empathy for what they are experiencing. Sometimes empathy will postpone a discussion about the situation until the child is comforted.
  • Even when energy levels are low and emotions are teetering on 'losing it', parents need to find that inner strength to deal with problems when they arise. Children often play on parents' emotions, so at times you might need to hide your true feelings and give the appearance of strength.
  • Parents need to be decisive and firm in conveying their expectations to children. You cannot have an air of firmness if you let your kids modify your clear expectations. Follow up every time, and you will develop an air of determination.
  • A thinking parent will realise that there are times when it would be inadvisable to give affection. Sometimes giving love at a particular time will be seen by a child as a sign of weakness.

When children respect their parents, they learn to respect themselves.

How can someone with a sensitive conscience have self-respect while habitually displaying 'bad' behaviour? How can a thief have self-respect? How can a violent person have a feeling of self-worth? We develop self-appreciation in proportion to the development of positive character attributes.

There are some ways children can learn respect for their parents:

  • When parents talk about and show respect for their parents
  • When parents display positive character traits
  • When parents can admit fault and apologise
  • When parents are just
  • When parents are consistent
  • When parents practice what they preach
  • When parents make mistakes but they accept them as part of life
  • When parents are reasonable and consistent in their expectations of their children

As a child grows in character attributes, so does their self-respect. One of the positive character attributes is respect for others, and this includes respect for parents. Some children and adults see themselves as being faulty, and they don't respect themselves because they are not perfect. Being faulty is part of life, and it just proves we are human. Yes, we can have self-respect while accepting our failings. A desire for change and a willingness to do something about it bolsters our self-acceptance.

If you are walking on eggshells with your child, it shows they are at the top of the pecking order.

We lived in the school residence adjoining a two-teacher school in the Hunter Valley, in New South Wales. I was the principal there for three years. In the backyard was a fowl yard where we kept about ten laying hens and a rooster. The rooster pecked all the hens to keep them in line. One hen, the boss hen, pecked on all the other hens to dominate them. One of the hens the boss hen-pecked became next in line to peck the other hens. And so it went down the line to the bottom hen that all the other hens, and the rooster, pecked.  Not an enviable position.

In nearly all animal social groups there is a dominant leader, either male or female. Whether there is a pecking order right down the line, I am not sure. What is known, is that dominance brings order, cooperation, stability and even survival of animal social groups. When there was no authoritative, hierarchical order, animal groups would descend into disorder and chaos.

When parents don't decidedly take a dominant role in the family, disorder and disharmony can result. When children dominate and manipulate the parents, the family becomes dysfunctional. The buck has to stop somewhere. Ultimately someone has to make a decision when views and expectations differ. When the roles are reversed parents submit to their children, and there is no security for anyone. Children only have a sense of security and self-respect when the parents take charge. A comment made by a friend of mine, made me sit back and think for a while, it went like this, 'The best form of government is a benevolent (kind-hearted, sympathetic, considerate) dictatorship.'

Richard Warden


Next Article in this Article Series: 140 One-liners No. 3 - 011-015

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