I think we, as parents, are always searching for the magic key to make our children good people. The problem with that is that there is no magic key. It will take a lifetime of work and constant effort, even then it might not be enough. We lead by example, we set punishments, we offer alternatives, and so on. I’m always asking myself “How do I make my children good people while still giving them a good life?” Some of the best people come from horrible backgrounds. That doesn’t mean everyone that comes from a good background is a bad person. I want my children to have compassion, this is something they seem to be severely lacking in. How do you teach compassion? How do you teach your child to have the more complex morals that you have?
Right now, what I’m trying is natural consequences. I cannot equate a good life with being served hand and foot. That is not what makes a good life. First, we must identify what a good life is.
- Children must be loved.
- Children must have access to food and shelter
- Children must be safe from predatory people
- Children must have access to education
- Children must be safe from severe injury
After that everything else is comfort and excess. Well, I’m sure I missed a few things. You get my drift though. We give our children electronics and drive them everywhere. We do all the hard work for them. How do we expect them to handle the real world.
Nothing I’ve tried lately has had the desired effect. I’ve chosen natural consequences because that is what worked for me. Learning from my own mistakes. When my kid decides to climb the little apple tree in the back yard, I’m going to let them. When my son chooses not to help out the house, the house is not going to help him out.
For example, Jeremiah has been doing terribly on chores; that is when he even does his chore. To be specific, when it’s his turn to do the kitchen. My kids have it easy. They only have to do chores a couple times a week. It makes me crazy when I have to fight with them over it. I often wonder if everyone else’s kids are as bad at chores as mine. Anyway, I feel like TV, PlayStation, and internet are all comforts that come with being a part of the household. If you choose not to help the house, the house chooses not to provide your comforts.
Natural consequences don’t work for everything, but when they does work it makes perfect sense. I’m not going to let my twelve year old daughter take the bus at night, but I will let her go into public wearing too much makeup and embarrass herself. These don’t come without warning either. I’ll tell my nine year old Jozlynn to grab a sweater. In the mornings its cold outside, even if it warms up in the afternoon. When she doesn’t I’ll let her shiver in line for fifteen minutes before school starts. This winter I told her to bring her snow suite to school, her walk home was going to be very cold. She refused and froze her butt off on the way home. It was very gratifying to hear her say, “You were right, I should’ve brought my snow suit.”
I find myself babying my kids. I don’t want them to have to experience some of the harsh realities I had to face. The problem with that is they will have to learn some day, might as well be when I’m here to pick up the pieces. I think it is better to console and comfort after the fact than it is to shelter them. Stay strong parents, and know that as long as you work from love you are doing the right thing.