I just heard a radio show that stated the fact that if your kid really liked you ALL of the time, you probably weren’t doing your job right. It still amazes me, even at my kids’ young age, when they are surprised that it doesn’t bother me in the least if they are not happy with me when I am mothering them. I always answer them in those moments that even though I did love them very much, it just didn’t bother me if they were mad at me. When they get really frustrated with my “mothering” I proudly declare that my efforts are in place to make sure I keep my “mom card.”
Now, that would be a great thing to have as parents. A “mom (or dad) card” to earn every time you enforce basic child raising rules. As a child gets older this becomes more difficult, especially when the children verbalize their feelings. Some parents want to please their children, even if it is to their own detriment. I cannot even imagine wanting a teenager to be my BFF but I know the feeling it brings when I am able to say “yes.” I think there can be a balance found in being able to say “yes” as much as possible but still being able to keep your kid’s feet on the ground. Give them rules that will allow them to grow into responsible, well-rounded adults.
My house is not filled with teenagers yet so talk to me in a couple of years, but here is an approach I’ve been told by moms who have teenagers works best. The first thing they all say is to try to talk to them like they are adults. Give the rules with the reason behind them. Not just a flat “because I said so.” Generally rules are in place for their safety. If you are honest with your child and tell them what could happen if they act a certain way or do a certain thing, they may finally understand. To be honest, at the same time, you as the parent will go over the reasons behind the rule and can determine when there is a rule which may be open for discussion. We have all heard the term, pick your battles. It is important to keep that in mind at every age.
Unfortunately, bad things happen all the time to people. If your child can simply understand that, while alot of things are out of their control, they do have the ability to manage some of them with simply their own choice of actions. Believe me, for some of the big ones, that is all it will take. For example, your words will be in the back of their minds when a friend wants them to get in their car to ride with them and your child knows that the friend is under the influence and should not be driving. All it takes is that decision to not get in the car. One would hope the driver could be convinced not to drive, but honestly, the driver would not even think of reconsidering if friends jump in his car as if he is fully capable of driving. All the difference in the world is made by one child’s example.
That is an example of a life-saving rule. Some topics may be difficult to bring up in everyday conversation, but find a way. Get a soap box. Do whatever it takes because you want your kids to hear these things from you, not from someone who may not have their best interests in mind. My kids, even at their young age, kinda chuckle at me when I am giving the “don’t use drugs” lecture. I drop it in every chance I get. My children are young and impressionable and the older I get, the more I realize there has to be something to advertising and even (good) brainwashing. If I see an ad on tv over and over again, whether I realize it or not, it becomes familiar to me. The more familiar a product is, the more likely I am to buy it the next time I am at the store. I want MY WORDS to be the most familiar with my kids. I want my advice to be the basis on which they draw from to make their own decisions. They are the beautiful children I have been blessed with to raise and nurture, I will do everything in my power to help them avoid the obvious, time-proven, life destroying dangers out there. They can choose to be whatever they want to be when they grow up. I want them to grow up to be able to make those choices. Take the time now and make sure those lines of communication are open so your child understands the importance of your words.
Don’t get me started on how many rules there are to teach our children. The job is certainly over-whelming if you sit down and think about it. But it is our job, and we have a lifetime to accomplish it. So, make a list and sit them down this weekend for a two-day seminar to work it all in. I am kidding, of course. Things have a way of coming up in everyday life and you can take those opportunities to address them as they do. I will leave you with one thought though, what are the issues you would rather avoid in your family life? The big ones that could tear your family apart. Earn your “mom (or dad) card” with covering those issues. Whatever they are, discuss them with your kids as young as possible. That is the tool to allow them to avoid them. Nothing is foolproof but by talking to your kids about the big issues, they will know how you feel about something BEFORE it is something you are dealing with. It is much easier that way.