Skip to main content

Raising Successful Children

image of a group fist-bump represents family unity and teamwork
There is a spectrum of power we give our children in our parenting approach.  This spectrum can be placed into three categories.

1.) Authoritarian - This is when we call the shots.  We aim to raise the best children possible, and we know what is best for them, so we make it easy for them by telling them what to do and how to act.
2.) Involvement - This is when we recognize that our children are their own people and they may have some important input.  We allow them to provide that input, but as the adult, we still make all of the decisions.
3.) Cooperation - This is where we recognize that our children are independent human beings with their own ideas and goals.  We share the problem and let them be a part of the solution.  We may set boundaries, but we allow them come up with solutions that fit within those boundaries, even if it is not the solution we would choose.

Let's use a common family problem as an example:  8 year old Jimmy asks you what is for dinner.  You are in the middle of cooking, and you pause to reply "We are having pork chops on rice, mashed potatoes, green beans, and sliced pears".  Jimmy complains as he loudly reports that he would like to have cupcakes for dinner for the rest of the week.  How you respond can reveal a lot about where you are on this parenting spectrum.  It is normal and appropriate to move up and down on the spectrum, and to pick certain approaches for certain situations.

1.) Authoritarian - You respond "Jimmy, you get what you get.  I work for the food, I buy the food, and I cook the food.  When you have your own house you can make the decisions, but for now this is what we will have."
2.) Involvement - You respond "Jimmy, we can't have cupcakes for dinner, its not healthy.  If you are good though, I can make cupcakes for dessert."
3.) Cooperation - You respond "Jimmy, cupcakes don't provide what we need from a meal.  We need two vegetables, a fruit, bread or pasta, and either meat or beans.  Do you want to help plan some of the meals this week, or are you really just craving some cupcakes?".

Don't over focus on the dietary restrictions I set in the above example, that is just how I would explain the basics of meal planning to an 8 year old in my home.  Your may have much better rules in your home.  In the examples above, you can see that the strategies are progressively engaging to the child, without giving in to an unreasonable request.  The trick with the last one is that by sharing the appropriate boundaries you are making the problem his problem to solve.  The catch is that children will inevitably find ways to solve the problem that you do not like.

Our goal as parents is to raise children who become successful, autonomous adults.  We often forget that a part of that, is teaching them to solve real life problems.  We do so much for them.  Sometimes we do it because we love them, and sometimes we do it because it is easier and quicker, but rarely do we allow them to solve their own problems.  We need to change this pattern.  While I believe that a good parent will move up and down this spectrum, I urge you to spend more time in the "cooperation" area than you currently do.


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Death Will Lose it's Sting

Our reading from the Narrative Lectionary this week is 1 Corinthians 15:51-57. In these verses, Paul reveals a mystery, that in the end some will be transformed, given a new body, instead of facing death.  In other words death is not one of life's two certain terms.  It seems taxes may be the only guarantee.   "...in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except  death and taxes ." - Benjamin Franklin. Ok, all jokes aside, these verses are difficult to read.  Paul looks forward to a time when death will have no victory, it will have lost its sting.  But today, we are in the middle of a pandemic, surrounded by death.  Many are scared for their lives, or their loved ones, and too many have already been lost.  Death does not seem to have lost its sting at all, it feels as if it is closing in. When I worked in wilderness therapy I remember holding a child who was desperately trying to kill himself.  We cried together as he struggled to end it, and I struggled

Fool for Christ

Our reading from the Narrative Lectionary this week is 2 Corinthians 5.  Verse 13 stood out to me. If it seems we are crazy, it is to bring glory to God. - 2 Corinthians 5:13a (NLT) John Wimber, the founder of the Vineyard churches did a famous sermon called "I am a fool for Christ, whose fool are you?".  Reading this week's text reminded me of this wonderful sermon.  Wimber's sermon reminds us that, as christians, we are called to something truly radical.  The christian walk is strange and counter cultural.  Jesus once explained this to his disciples in John 15 "If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. You don't belong to this world, I have chosen you out of it.  That is why the world hates you."   Peter, in a letter to the church, later referred to all of us as strangers just passing through this world.   Do you feel like a stranger?  Do you feel like the world hates you?  Are you a fool for Christ? Here is the thing, you are going t

Prayer Part 2 of 4

  This is the second of four weeks the narrative lectionary is focusing on the Lord's Prayer as found in Luke 11:2-4.  This week we are focusing on the second section: "Give us this day our daily bread." At the time and place that Jesus said this, bread was the center of every meal.  To his people, it had a long history of being a symbol for God's provision.  It was often used to refer to any meal or food, and in this case Jesus expands it to represent all of our needs.   A long time ago, in a place that had been ravaged with war, orphanages were overwhelmed with children.  In one of the facilities, the relief workers noted that the children had trouble falling asleep each night.  They struggled with anxiety, wondering if they would have food for the next day.  Their lack of sleep led to more anxiety and a troubling downward spiral of their mental and physical health.  In an effort to meet their needs the workers tried something new one night.  As they tucked each chi