This week brings us into a home that is ruled by children. I don’t mean the house is messy and the parents are exhausted. No. That’s every home with kids. I’m talking about a home in which mom and dad (or just mom or just dad) are not in charge at all. It’s a terrible place, much like Chernobyl, it’s a deserted and desolate wasteland. You’ve seen these parents. They look happy. They act like everything is great, and all the while, their child is destroying their life. I know that sounds harsh, but I see it all the time. So do you; you just don’t want to admit it. This isn’t caused by a lack of desire or parenting skill but the lack of a strategy.
The problem with having no parenting strategy at all is that you become not a parent at all. The absentee parent is not intentional. They have no rhyme or reason as to why they do what they do. The absentee parent is reactive and responsive. Every action by the child dictates what the parent does instead of the other way around. This is why the crying and fussing works on mom and/or dad, because they didn’t have a plan.
I think of my wife’s family. Her dad always seemed to have a plan for whatever scenario. I’m not sure if he was faking it. I’m sure he was some of the time, don’t we all. But he didn’t seem to respond to his kids out of a mindless reaction. There was always a plan for what would come next. He even went so far as to have them sign contracts for things. Time to get the drivers license–time to sign a driving contract, complete with penalties for driving poorly or missing curfew. Oh, so that boy (me) is interested in my daughter, well that’s nice but they don’t date until they’re eighteen. Harsh? Maybe to you, but to his kids, it was a structured plan that created mostly positive results. Am I saying my in-laws always had the perfect approach? Of course not, but they sure had some unhappy kids at times, and they have some very well-balanced and successful adults.
I have said on this very site more times than I can count that our goal isn’t to raise happy children but raise them up to be successful adults. When every decision is based on the happiness of the child instead of the well-being of the child, you create an environment that is detrimental to the development of a successful adult. Sure, it’s easier to give in, it’s easy to be absent in the decisions for your kids by letting them have whatever they want, but your kid shouldn’t get what they want all the time. Your kid doesn’t know what’s best for them. They’re not supposed to, that’s your job. So get out there and be present in your child’s life. Be present in their decisions. If you haven’t been up until now, it’s going to be a tough ship to turn around but don’t give up. You can do it!
Author: Michael Prince
Michael Prince co-authored “What’s in Your Pocket? A parent’s guide to protecting your children online.” with his wife Melinda. They have four kids and live in an RV anywhere in the USA they see the need for an internet safety expert. Michael is leading the conversation in the American Church about family online security. He and Melinda founded BecauseFamily, a ministry that exists to inspire and equip parents to be the first influence in the lives of their children, in 2013. Michael is also a geek and loves Star Wars, Doctor Who, the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and strategy board games.