In our society we do not allow anyone to operate a motor vehicle without demonstrating that they have some basic driving skills which in turn allows the person to be licensed. However, there is no skill-testing and no licensing required to parent even though most people would agree that parenting is one of the most challenging and most important jobs anyone can perform. Children don’t even come with a manual! And most people would agree that parenting today is far more challenging than it was not that long ago.
Many well-intentioned parents use outdated parenting skills and tools that simply do not work consistently and they, and the children they are raising, experience frustration, anxiety, and a high level of stress.
When parents do everything for their children they rob them of the opportunity to learn self-reliance – a vital key to self-esteem. Today, many children have no assigned tasks in the household, no responsibilities. One of the best things we can do for our children is to teach them how and encourage them to do for themselves everything they can as soon as they can. This includes doing their laundry, making their snacks, packing their lunches, cleaning their rooms, and contributing to the upkeep of the common areas. These are basic skills that everyone needs to know and the earlier we learn them the more comfortable and competent we feel. It’s not about “helping” mom or dad, it’s about taking responsibility for self rather than depending on someone else to fulfill our needs. It’s never too early to learn this!
It is very important for a parent to understand the developmental stages and what a child needs to master at different ages. For example, it is healthy for a teenager to want to separate from parents while maintaining the privileged position of dependent. It is a normal and necessary process yet a very challenging struggle. They are practicing being independent adults.
Today, in many families, the children are at the centre of the family constellation and everything and everyone revolves around what the children want and like. This type of parenting develops adults who have an unhealthy sense of entitlement and an underdeveloped sense of responsibility.
The Golden Rule, Do Unto Others As You Would Have Them Do Unto You, is a great guideline for parents. If you don’t want your child to yell, hit, or make fun of you; don’t yell, hit, or make fun of him or her. If you want to be able to say no to your child, recognize your child’s right to say no to you. We want children to be able to say no to those who would take advantage of them. Often these are people in a role of authority and if the child has never been allowed to say no to you how could he or she feel comfortable saying no to another adult in a place of authority.
Many children today live with frazzled, disrespectful, guilt-ridden, stressed out parents who rule in an erratic manner that depends on their mood. Parenting programs are designed to facilitate the relationship between parent and child and to help parents become effective role models.
There are many parenting programs offered in the Greater Fredericton Area. Some programs are available free of charge and some charge a nominal fee which can be covered by insurance or subsidized. The vast majority of children can learn to listen and respect you without you having to resort to screaming and threats. It is never too late to learn more effective ways to parent.
An investment of 10 to 12 hours of your time, to take a parenting program, would be an investment that will pay valuable dividends – a gift you give yourself and your children. If your children are driving you crazy, do something about it today.