Tag Archive for permissive

Parents, Don’t Give In to These Self-Defeating Thoughts

How a parent thinks will influence how they parent. Here are six statements I hear from parents that interfere with effective parenting.

  1. “I know my kids better than they know themselves.” Good parents do know their children well. They learn when their children need to rest. They can tell when their children are hungry or need to go to the bathroom. They learn the nuances of their children’s moods. However, assuming we know more about our children than they know about themselves sets us up for conflict and disaster. After all, children change. They don’t like peanut butter today but love it tomorrow. Sue was her best friend yesterday but her antagonist today. And, who can really know another person’s emotion, intent, or motivation? With that in mind, we need to check our assumptions and not let them prejudice our responses. Instead, ask your children about their feelings, their motivations, and their intent. Watch and observe them in action. Let them tell you about themselves through their words and actions as you learn about them every day. You might be surprised what you learn.
  2. “I have to worry. It’s a parent’s job.” It is true. Parents worry and, chances are, parents will continue to worry. However, a parent’s worry doesn’t change anything. It doesn’t keep children safe. A parent’s worry does not protect children. In fact, if worry takes over it can actually harm children by preventing them from becoming involved in healthy activities that might worry their parents. A better job description for parent involves concern, not worry.  A parent’s concern allows them to teach their children how to remain safe. Concern allows the opportunity for children to learn from the consequences of their own mistakes when the stakes are low. Concern allows for discussion about various activities and discussion allows for teaching.  Let’s change a parent’s job description from “worry” to “concern.” Parent and child will benefit!
  3. “My kids are my life.” Children are an important part of a parent’s life. But, if you’re a parent who say’s “my kids are my life,” your teen will likely offer the best advice when they say, “Get a life!” (More parenting advice from teens in Parenting Advice to Parents of Teens…From Teens)When children become the sole purpose of our lives, our lives suffer. Marriages suffer. Health suffers. We don’t take care of ourselves. Our children need us to model self-care so they learn the importance of taking care of ourselves. If they see us constantly caring for them and running ourselves ragged to meet their needs they might incorporate an unhealthy message about adulthood. “It’s no fun as an adult. Who wants to become an adult when all they do is what everyone else wants? I’ll never grow up.” Give children a sweet spot in your life and heart, but don’t make them the sole purpose of your every waking hour. Get a hobby. Make some friends. Enjoy some adult activities. Get a life.
  4. “I love my kids too much.” I hear this from parents who are afraid to discipline. They love their children “too much” and fear their children will learn to hate them for discipline received. Truth be told, our children want structure. They actually long for discipline. They may not admit it in the moment (or even realize it in their younger years) but they will appreciate it as they mature. Discipline provides a measure of predictability, safety, and security our children need to thrive. It lets our children know we love them enough to teach them and keep them safe. Discipline establishes a baseline of limits and values our children can internalize as they mature. These limits and boundaries will promote success as they engage the world independently. Limits, boundaries, and values also teach our children that “you can’t always get what you want…you get what you need.” It allows them to learn how to manage the frustrations that accompany not getting what you want. So, do your children a favor. Love them enough to discipline.
  5. “We need more discipline in this house.” As George Banks so aptly said in Mary Poppins, “Tradition, discipline, and rules must be the tools. Without them-disorder! Catastrophe! Anarchy! In short, we have a ghastly mess!” Discipline and structure are an important part of a healthy home, but not the foundation or the only part. Discipline alone leads to fear. Fear of not doing good enough. Fear of inadequacy. Fear of failure. People who live in a home in which discipline forms the foundation tend to struggle with self-confidence. And, when they taste the freedom of less discipline, they rebel. Children who grow up in a home with tight structure, discipline, and schedule do not learn how to manage their time. When they leave home, they still do not know how to manage time. As you can see, unlike George Banks’ beliefs, it is too much discipline that leads to catastrophe, anarchy, a ghastly mess! Instead, balance discipline with connection, structure with relationship, limits with love.
  6. “Kids will be kids” or “boys will be boys.” This is true…to a point. I hear these statements used too often as an excuse for low expectations. Yes, “kids will be kids” but parents must teach them responsibility. Yes, “boys will be boys” but they need to learn respect and self-control. Rather than simply say “kids will be kids,” say “kids will be kids and kids can learn.” In fact, kids love to learn. Take the time to teach them responsibility, respect, honor, and self-control.

How Grace-full Is Your Family

Grace plays a huge role in a healthy, loving family. In fact, how a family responds to grace and shares grace will ultimately shape their family. Grace balances the two ends of the see-saw: relationship and rules, love and limits. Unfortunately, not all families practice a healthy expression of grace. Not all families share grace with one another or treat one another from a foundation of grace. As a result, not all families balance relationships and structure in a way that promotes healthy families. Let me briefly describe four ways families respond to grace.
     ·         Some families reject grace. Instead of giving one another unconditional acceptance, they base acceptance on performance and achievement. They react to misbehavior with embarrassment and harsh words, believing that misbehavior ruins the family image. As a result, grace rejecting families become critical and sarcastic. They withhold love until a person meets the standard of achievement and proper behavior that “keeps us looking good.” In this family, people start to think of themselves as failures if they do not meet the expected standard of performance. Family members can begin to feel isolated and alone if they fall short of that standard and find themselves criticized and ignored for missing the mark.

·         Other families crush grace. They believe that a good set of rules to live by will make everything turn out right…and they use a hammer to enforce those rules. Relationships are neglected and made secondary to rules. Personal image becomes defined by my ability to obey the rules. Family members become arrogant as they comply with the rules or overwhelmed with shame when they fall short. The whole family may adopt a “holier-than-thou” attitude as they present the perfect family, structure in place, and outward behavior complying with that structure. When someone breaks a rule, shame-based, guilt inducing discipline helps bring them back into line. Fear-based discipline motivates them to avoid punishment. Unfortunately, family members often become resentful of this, feel inadequate, and may eventually rebel against those rules.

·         Today we see many families who manipulate grace. They believe that simple love and acceptance will produce self-control and character. They also hate to see people suffer. So, relationships remain strong but very few, if any, rules are put in place. This family has strong relationships with little to no structure. They give no consequence for misbehavior. Many times, family members will even bail the misbehaving person out of the consequence. Some family members will even suffer for the lazy or misbehaving person. For instance, the parent who stays up late to complete their child’s project while the child watches TV or goes to bed. In grace-manipulating families, people learn that anger is stronger than love and comfort more important than character. Unfortunately, the family becomes enslaved to the one who is most willing to manipulate grace.

·         Healthy families strive to become grace receivers. Grace receiving families nurture healthy, loving relationships while providing a clear, consistent structure to promote positive behavior. They see misbehavior as an opportunity to grow more mature. Discipline provides the opportunity to learn more appropriate behavior and, in the long run, promote deeper intimacy within the family. Family members find acceptance even when they miss the mark and suffer the consequences of inappropriate behavior. With unconditional acceptance and loving relationships supporting a consistent structure, family members learn from their mistakes, gain wisdom, and grow more self-controlled.
These families differ in how they balance loving relationships with consistent structure. Ironically, grace provides the perfect balance between relationship and expectation, love and structure. Where does your family fall into the descriptions above? Are you most often a grace-rejecter, grace-crusher, grace-manipulator, or grace-receiver? How does that impact your family? If you are not a grace-receiver, what will you do this week to become more of a grace receiver? After all, the health of your family is at stake.

Where are You on the Parenting See-Saw?

Do you remember trying to remain balanced while standing in the middle of a see-saw? It took steady focus and constant readjustments to keep both ends of the see-saw balanced and level. In many ways, parenting can be like riding a see-saw…one minute you are up in the air, enjoying warm, loving interactions with your children and the next minute you feel yourself falling to the ground as you discipline unruly, disrespectful behavior. Up—down, enjoy the love—dish out meaningful consequences, offer warm nurturance—practice energetic control. As parents, we stand in the middle of the parenting see-saw trying to keep a steady focus on our goals and making constant readjustments to keep both ends of the see-saw level. Yes, parenting involves both ends of the see-saw. Effective parents strive to balance two equally important tasks: providing warm nurturance and practicing confident authority. If we ignore one of these tasks, parenting becomes unbalanced and you find your feet dangling in the air while you hold on for dear life. Typically, a parent is better at one of these tasks than the other. That means we all need to learn and grow in our role as parent. Let me explain these two tasks in more detail.
      1.Effective parents practice confident authority in the home. Part of the parents’ job is to establish a loving structure that includes boundaries, limits, and rules. Parents establish boundaries, limits, and rules with their children’s best interests in mind, not their own. The rules are not designed to make life easy for you as a parent, but to guide your children toward maturity and help them internalize the positive behaviors your family and society value. Parents who exhibit confidence in their authority teach their children the limits and rules by offering instruction as well as loving consequences. They accept their own discomfort around watching their children squirm and whine in response to negative consequences, knowing that negative consequences will help them learn and grow more mature. Effective parents know that establishing limits and authority actually allows their children the freedom to explore the world around them in a safe way. The parent with confident authority is not overwhelmed by their children’s anger. They emit a presence that is more powerful than their children’s anger. By upholding the limit and continuing to communicate love for their angry children, they show that they are more powerful than their children’s anger and hateful words.     Ironically, this provides children with a sense of comfort, safety, and security. Children, who may feel as though they cannot control their anger, learns that their parent can control that anger. Their parent is powerful…and loving! As a result, children experience the freedom to explore, learn and grow.

2.  Effective parents also initiate and cultivate warm, nurturing relationships with their children. They nurture their children physically and emotionally. Healthy parents nurture their children physically by providing them with food and shelter. Even more, they nurture their children with regular, generous doses of loving touch. Nurturing parents give their children loving hugs, affectionate kisses, and other forms of attentive touch. Effective parents nurture their children with words of affirmation and affection as well. They voice an understanding of their children’s disappointments and share in their excitement and joy. They use words to help their children label and express emotions. Effective parents also become a student of their children. They learn each child’s strengths and vulnerabilities so they can build on the strengths and lovingly support them in confronting their vulnerabilities.

What happens if a parent focuses on only one side of the see-saw? Well, too heavy on the authority side of the see-saw and children fall into discontent, withdrawal, and distrust. Sitting on the low side of the see-saw with their parent hovering over them actually leads the child to question their parent’s authority. Eventually, children begin to resist their parent’s attempt to direct and teach. They often become disrespectful and rebellious, stepping off the see-saw and letting their parent crash to the ground.

When parents lean too heavily on the warm, nurturing side of the see-saw, their children sit on the high side of the see-saw and tower over them. This parent expends so much effort and work to keep the ride going that their children simply “enjoy the ride.” Their children do not experience the consequences of their behavior; they only enjoy the rewards of their parents’ work. As a result, these children do not learn to be self-reliant or self-controlled. They explore less, letting their parent do all the work. As they mature, they exhibit less confidence in navigating the world independent of their parents. And, they are less likely to respect their parents as authorities. With little boundaries and little responsibility, they may simply run wild.

As you can see, balancing the parental see-saw is absolutely crucial but also rewarding. Children, who live in a house where parents balance warmth with authority, become more content and confident. They show greater confidence in navigating the world independently. They exhibit greater success at “leaving the nest” to succeed on their own. Children raised by parents who balance the roles of parenting also perceive their parents as legitimate authority and accept their parent’s input into decisions. As they become adults, they develop mutually gratifying relationships with their parents.

So, stand right in the middle of that parental see-saw and balance warmth with authority, love with limits, and grace with truth. Although challenging, the rewards are immeasurable!

Discipline With Grace

Family shepherds discipline with grace; and, graceful discipline promotes healthy relationships as well as mature behavior. Unfortunately, many families fall prey to one of two extremes when attempting to discipline with grace: grace crushing or grace manipulating.

Grace crushers
tend to hold legalistic expectations. Parents in grace crushing families make demands that exceed their child’s developmental ability. They control their child with rewards and punishments, demanding that their child “give in” to their expectations. Grace crushers make their child’s decisions for him. Disagreement is viewed as disrespect and punished, leaving their child little opportunity to develop his unique personality. When their child does assert his independence, he is crushed with shame-inducing statements like “I’m glad your grandmother isn’t alive to see that” or “I work all day to make your life better and you treat me like this!” Or, the child may be forced into submission with fear-centered statements like “If you keep this up, I’ll call the police to take you away” or “I don’t have to put up with this, I’ll just leave.” Such comments crush a child’s spirit rather than teach appropriate behavior. They produce resentment, fear of failure, feelings of inadequacy, and a constant need for approval.And, the demanding, controlling behavior of grace crushing parents teaches the child that he is not trusted and his parents do not believe he is adequate, capable, or trustworthy. In an effort to gain independence and prove his adequacy, the child in a grace crushing home eventually rebels. As Josh McDowell says, “Rules without relationship leads to rebellion.”

Grace manipulators
,on the other hand,focus on relationship to the neglect of rules. They spoil their child. Parents in grace manipulating families believe that simply accepting one another and maintaining a peaceful relationship will lead to a child with self-control and positive character. They hate to see anyone suffer pain. Rather than watch their child struggle with not getting what he wants, they give in to his wishes and desires. In so doing, they protect him from beneficial pain and rob him of opportunities to learn. They also deprive him of self-respect and self-assurance by making life “easy.” Many grace manipulators even accept the consequences of their child’s behavior instead of allowing their child to suffer those consequences, like staying up late to finish their child’s school project rather than allowing the child to suffer any consequence. Ultimately, parents in a grace manipulating household become a slave to their spoiled child’s schedule, desires, and wants. They eventually grow resentful of their child’s constant demands and wonder how their child developed such a sense of entitlement. They will even be surprised when their child rebels in response to unmet selfish desires.

families recognize the importance of relationships and mature character. Parents in grace-filled families believe that mature character is more important than immediate comfort and personal satisfaction. Grace-filled parents believe their child is capable of learning from consequences so they do not bail him out. Instead of crushing their child with consequences, they love him by using consequences as a learning tool that deepens relationship over time. So, they develop appropriate “rules to live by” and build strong relationships. Consider these points about grace filled parents and discipline.
     1.Grace-filled parents view discipline from a long-term perspective. They consider discipline a way to promote long-term growth and maturity. They also realize that discipline promotes intimacy over the long-term even though it may create short-term discomfort and frustration.

2.Grace-filled parents clearly focus on behaviors, not character, when giving a consequence. They do not attack their child’s character. There is no name calling, demeaning comments, or threats.

3.Grace-filled families believe the best about others, even the misbehaving child. “Love believes all things, hopes all things and bears all things” even when dealing with misbehavior. Gracious families believe that family members truly do want to grow more mature. They believe that family members ultimately do want to please the family with whom they have an intimate relationship. They have a deep-seated belief that their child is capable of learning, growing, and maturing.

4.Grace-filled families empathize with a person’s discomfort and pain without protecting them from the consequence. They remain available throughout the consequence, allowing the person to experience grace and truth. This involves communicating an understanding of the discomfort of consequences while maintaining the consequence. Doing this effectively balances the hard line of a consequence while, at the same time, expresses the soft emotion of empathy.

5.Grace-filled families teach appropriate behavior as part of the discipline process. They begin by evaluating the negative behavior, even considering the impact of the negative behavior on the child and those around him. It is important for all of us to realize the impact of negative behavior on our lives and the lives of those around us. Then, grace-filled parents teach more appropriate behaviors through discussion and problem-solving.

6.Grace-filled families talk about potential problem situations ahead of time in order to prevent problem behaviors. Once again, these discussions revolve around potential consequences as well as family values and beliefs.

7.Grace-filled families always work to restore relationships whenever negative behaviors threaten to destroy relationships. They follow consequences with a reassurance of love for the person.

Don’t be afraid to discipline. Discipline confidently…with grace!

What Your Parenting Destination

“I start my vacation tomorrow, Frank!”
“Great! Where are you going?”
“I don’t know.”
“When are you leaving?”
“I don’t know.”
“Well, how are you going to get there?”
“I don’t know.”
Most people do not start their vacation without knowing the destination and mapping out a route to that destination. But, many people start the journey of parenthood without any thought as to the final destination or the route to get there. We have children, but no destination for them in mind. We parent with little to no idea of the route from here to the final destination. 
An ancient proverb states, “Where there is no vision, the people are unrestrained” (Proverbs 29:18–NASB). With no vision, there is no organizing goal or destination. If parents have no vision for their children’s future, how will they discipline? If they have no goal to define their parenting style, what behaviors will they nurture? If they have no destination of future character in mind, how will they instruct? With no vision, they find little reason to establish limits that go beyond keeping their children “out of their hair.”
Children in this situation become “unrestrained,” unbridled, loosed from any guiding conscience. Without the restraint of guiding principles, children determine their own direction before they have the wisdom and experience to do so. They become rebellious, unwilling to submit to any guiding principles, whether in the school, home, or community. Without a motivating destination, children become floaters. They float from one activity to another with no real commitment to anything–no staying power, no determination, no zeal. As a result, they become easy prey to the many sharks waiting to take advantage of children who aimlessly wander without the vision and guidance of a parent in their life. Soon, they may experience the shame of living at a standard below their potential, dependent on others, with no steady job, and perhaps even in trouble with the law.
Parents who have a vision of the character they want their child to develop will organize their parenting style to achieve that goal. They will establish limits with the intent of helping their child develop into a responsible adult. They will love and nurture with the intent of helping their child mature into a loving and caring adult. The clearer a parent can envision a final destination, the more successfully he can guide his child in that direction. So, take a moment to consider your parenting destination…your vision for your child. Where do you want your child to “end up”? What kind of adult do you want them to become? You might say “happy,” “a great athlete,” or “valedictorian;” but, think a little harder. Is that really the most important destination for your child? After all, what kind of character does a happy person possess? What kind of character traits will make your child a person you can admire? What does your child need to learn to move from today’s level of maturity to greater maturity tomorrow? Here are a few questions to help clarify a vision to guide your parenting:
1.      Do you want your child to have fame and fortune…or the wisdom to make wise choices in life?
2.      Is it more important that your child become a scholar and straight “A” student… or that your child be known as dependable and trustworthy?
3.      Do you want your child to become fiercely independent… or kind, compassionate, and considerate?
4.      Would you rather your child see themselves as a step above the crowd… or envision themselves as a person who serves others with a humble confidence?
5.      Would you prefer your child be known as a great athlete… or a person who has a reputation of honesty and integrity?
6.      Do you dream of your child enjoying great material wealth… or the riches of deep, loving relationships?
7.      Do you want your child to constantly strive for the approval and acceptance that comes from performing well… or do you want them to grow increasingly thankful for the person they have become and the blessings they have received?
8.      Would you rather your child grow into a great business person… or a great husband/wife, father/mother?
Don’t get me wrong. There is nothing wrong with standing above the crowd or becoming famous, independent, a great athlete, materially wealthy, or a great businessman. But, is that the ultimate goal of your parenting efforts? After 20 years of untiring effort and sacrificial time, what destination do you really hope to enjoy? Whatever destination you choose will determine the route you take. Whichever answer you choose will guide your actions and your parenting.

How to Ruin Your Child with Praise

“Praise your children, it will increase their self-esteem and improve their behavior.” Well, at least that’s the message we hear on the street. In reality though, not all praise is equal. Some praise can actually interfere with your child’s success. It can actual contribute to your child’s failure. Yes, you read that right. Parents can ruin their child with praise. Let me explain four ways that praise that can ruin your child.
     1.      Praising children for global attributes like intelligence or ability sets them up for failure. This global praise (“You are so smart,” “You certainly are talented,” or “You are one great kid”) tends to create children who are extremely image-conscious and performance-oriented. They want to “look the part” of the “smart/good/talented kid.” To fall short of that label through a less than perfect performance would lead to embarrassment. To avoid that embarrassment, they may choose easier tasks or simply drop out of challenging tasks rather than face the stress of potential failure.
     2.      In addition, the child who receives global praise will seek constant approval while working on a task. The global praise of being a “smart/good/talented kid” prevented them from developing the internal motivation to enjoy completing a task for the sake of doing it. Instead, they need the constant motivation of outside approval. Without constant reassurance and encouragement, this child will avoid challenges and run from healthy risks. By time they get to college, they may just as soon drop a challenging class rather than risk being a “smart kid” who only earns a “B.” Global praise has taught them well. Unfortunately, it has taught them to “look good” and avoid any mistakes at the expense of growing through challenging tasks.
     3.      Praising global attributes of our children also teaches them that image, appearance, is the top priority. One way to maintain a praiseworthy image is to tear other people down. As a result, this child may become overly competitive. In the midst of competitiveness, they ridicule their peers in order to maintain their own “praiseworthy image.” They belittle and demean others in an effort to build themselves up and assert their own praiseworthy status as the “smart/talented/good” child.
     4.      Giving a child excessive praise sets them up for failure as well. Excessive praise distorts a child’s motivation, encouraging them to perform just to hear the praise of others. The child who receives excessive praise needs praise every step of the way. They never develop a sense of autonomy or independence. Instead, they constantly look to their teachers and parents for affirmation and assurance in the form of praise. Take away the praise and they quit performing as well. Without praise, they cannot persist in their task. Even more disturbing, they do not learn to engage in an activity or task simply for the sake of personal enjoyment. They have no intrinsic satisfaction or motivation. 
Praising children for global attributes may create a child afraid of risk, avoiding of challenges, in constant need of approval and reassurance, and demeaning of others. Don’t get me wrong, though. I love praise. I do believe that we need to praise our children. Praise is effective and motivating…when done properly. Next week we will learn 4 secrets to making praise effective and motivating for your child.