By Benjamin ‘Raven’ Pressley
Ah, the joy of parenting, sweet little babies…then they start growing up and having a mind of their own and the challenges really begin. Then you have all these ‘experts’ writing books on how to raise a child as if there is one book, one size fits all. You can really get confused if you read a lot of books on the subject too because one book contradicts another.
The fact is there is no ‘one size fits all’ book. Every child is unique. You might learn a few things reading child psychology books like I have been talking about just don’t overdo it. For the most part you just have to ‘make it up’ as you go. And no this is not going to be another expert advice book on this subject. It is just what Liz and I have learned along the way and will hopefully give you some sound ideas you can try. We are going to stay very foundational on what we are about to share, certain unalienable truths to build on. It is up to you to try these things shared, decide if they work or don’t work for you and modify to fit your situation.
Ideally, the two original parents the child was born to working together in harmony to raise their child is best. However, let’s be real though. There are so many divorces, extended families, blended families, adoptions, single parents, grandparents raising children and a million other scenarios each with their own unique challenges. It is not realistic to expect or condemn those families that don’t have the original parents together raising their own child. We have to be supportive and come alongside their circumstances for the sake of the children. Their safety, well-being and just in general what kind of adult they grow up to be is largely in our hands.
The key is correction not punishment. Personally I think you should never use the word punishment. There should be consequences to their actions with the goal in mind of correcting them not just a punishment for their crime. Make sure a child understands ahead of time this is the reward for these actions and choices. These are the consequences for these actions or consequences and leave it up to them to choose. That way it isn’t you to blame as the parent. They make the choice. Just make sure you follow up on the consequences agreed upon or after a while they won’t believe you. This teaches real life lessons that in real life there are consequences and rewards. As they get older spanking is not appropriate but have solid consequences in place for their actions.
First of all the earlier you start correcting them the better. Don’t think you can wait till they are teenagers and straighten them out then. That is probably too late. Is it easier to bend a young green twig or a grown oak? When they are young that is time for spanking not when they are older.
- Be a parent before a friend.
- Positive reinforcement. Reward them for doing well in school, having a good work ethic, being respectful, etc.
- Trust but oversee.
- Boundaries give a child security whether they admit it or not.
- Spend time doing things with your children. Time is better than gifts. Don’t just buy them off.
- Have open dialogue. Keep channels of communication open. Remain calm and don’t be shocked or fly off the handle with some insecure traditional belief when they tell you something.
- Do not allow disrespect. Start early that eye rolling, disrespectful attitudes and tones will not be tolerated. Not just because you are the parent but because you are a human being worthy of respect.
- Don’t be shocked by profanity or nudity on TV, etc. make it a teachable moment.
- Teach girls they are worthy of respect and not to allow guys to degrade or mistreat them. Teach boys to respect girls.
- Talk with them about sex by the time they are 8 years old. They might not understand everything you are explaining but at least they hear it your way and not from the media or some other kid.
- Model the right behavior before them.
- Involve them in something outside themselves like some volunteer or charity or mission work. This will go far in making them realize how good they have it.
- Keep a game face on. No matter what you are going through don’t take it out on your kids or burden them with it. Don’t talk about your problems to your kids. They need you to model strength, authority, wisdom, knowledge and control. They should not have to take care of you. You should take care of them.
- Teach them the value of taking care of their stuff and making it last.
- Don’t buy them all the latest designer stuff. If they want something besides basics let them do something to earn money to buy it for themselves.
- When they start working they should pay their own way to movies, eating out, buying their clothes, car and gas. Don’t give them a car. Co-sign for it or whatever but make them pay for it.
- Fix healthy meals for them. Let them know what they are eating and how it is good for them.
- Teach them to cook and wash clothes. These are skills they will need. It is sad how many adults don’t know how to cook.
- Teach them other skills if you have them. Teach them to work on a car, use tools, etc.
- Discuss their future especially when they near end of middle school.
- You should have started a college fund when they were a baby not when it is time for them to go to college. There are insurance policies you can get cheap when they are babies to save up for their future like Gerber.
- Teach them to lead a balanced life mental, physical, spiritual and social.
- Teach them to defend themselves. Martial arts classes are helpful. Teach them firearms safety and they will respect guns and not abuse them. Don’t teach them fighting is never appropriate teach them when it is appropriate.
- Take them to a good church that don’t just preach it but they live it. They need to be around other young people trying to live right.
- Teach them difference between fantasy and reality. You would be surprised the effect video games have. I restrict games to those that they can play the hero and do what is right not games that teach them to steal and be abusive like Grand Theft Auto.
- Beware of changes in behavior. Lots of time in their rooms listening to screamo music, secretive, sad, signs of drug use.
- Single parents can be good parents. Even if one or the other is totally not in their lives reinforce with having adult friends of the missing gender. There are valuable lessons and insights to be learned from both genders. Don’t talk down missing parent, be truthful and let them decide for themselves whether they are a person they want in their life. Don’t ever force them to spend time with delinquent parent.