We hear it more and more every day. Parents say, “My kids never stick to anything.” “My son started playing soccer and he didn’t like it, so he quit.” “My daughter began gymnastics lessons but she didn’t like it, so she quit.” We seem to be developing a generation of young people who give up before giving anything a real chance. Isn’t this something that all of us tried to do as youngsters? Give up when things got too tough. Thank goodness that our parents had the common sense to make us finish what we started and didn’t allow us to give up especially when things became too tough. What happened? Did the generation of parents, the 20, 30, and 40-year-old group, forget how to parent effectively? Congratulations to those of you who have the common sense to stay the course. For those who seem to have lost their common sense, I apologize if I upset you, but what gives? Doesn’t it sound a bit ridiculous to you when a 6 or 7 year old wakes up one morning and decides that he or she no longer wants to do something that he or she absolutely loved just yesterday or the week before? Doesn’t it sound even more ridiculous to you when a fully-grown, mature, wise beyond his or her years parent says, “O.K. Honey, whatever you want.” After all, we must remember that it’s of paramount importance that the parent be the child’s friend. Pardon me once again if I shock you but have we as a society completely lost our sanity? When did it become socially acceptable for us to do exactly what our children think is best for them? I would need someone to help me understand how a 6 or 7 year old ever gained the life experience to make decisions that can truly be in their best interest? If our 6 or 7 year olds were left in charge do you think that they would consistently choose to go to school, brush their teeth, or eat the most nutritious food? I would go so far as to ask the same question of a 14 or 15 year old. I understand that our kids are growing up faster then we would like thanks to the media and the internet to name only a few of the “make them grow up too fast” influences that we as parents compete with. How about returning to a more sane time? Even if we cannot return to a more sane time, how about returning to a set of rules that seemed to help us create a saner world? Join me on the journey.
Let’s start by remembering that the parent is the parent. That’s the way it is even if the child complains about your decision. They don’t have to agree but they do have to respect your decision. Parenting may be the toughest job in the world. There is no handbook written that gives us the exact blueprint for success. All that we have are our instincts, our experience, and a few helpful tips from parents, friends, and an occasional good author. Do not let your children take away your parental rights. Parents need to be there for their kids. When I say be there I do not mean talk to them on a cell phone or instant message them during the day. Make the time. We need to help them with their decisions, their anger, their indecision, their ability to accept challenge and try new things, their need to try new things, and we especially need to help them understand that they must learn how to follow directions. All of us, no matter how old or how wise, must be a soldier before we can be a general. It would seem to me that we have far too many generals for our own good. Let those who should be in positions of authority accept the challenge with the enthusiasm and wisdom that fits the position. Let them have the courage to seek help if they encounter challenges that they are unsure of. Most importantly, let them have the courage to fight the good fight without being distracted from reaching the objective.
Finally, teach your children how to finish what they start. They may not like it and they may argue with you but they must be taught to complete the task. It may create a temporary harmony in the home to give in to the rantings and anger of a child but it will do nothing at all for the long term sanity of all in the home. Our families, our businesses, our communities, and our world will benefit because you had the good sense to teach your children how to finish what they start. Remember the long term goal which is to help your child be a rational, vibrant, contributing member of society. Your persistence and courage will be appreciated by many.