Here again are some aspects of my “out with the old” authoritarian parental paradigm (interesting that they look so great on paper):
- A predictable, smooth-running household, run almost exclusively by rules;
- Kids obedient to parental authority;
- Quick, decisive action on the part of the parent when kids veer in thinking or action from our desired path for them;
- A no-tolerance policy for disrespect, talking back, contention;
- Quick to give punishments and consequences and/or use authoritarian words and tones in an effort to get what we want from our kids (because we want it now).
Next, I’d like to identify two family types who live this way. See if you can see your family in one of the following descriptions:
This first family is one that’s been operating under the above mindset but for whatever reason, it is not necessarily creating obedient, compliant kids; rather, it seems to be causing more and more emotional walls to come up between parent and one or more of the kids, and them with each.
Since you are seeing relationships deteriorate before your very eyes while the initial problems remain or worsen, you have become open to new ideas.
(This describes the scenario with some of my own children and is why I eventually found a better way.)
For this first family, the reason I’m taking the time and energy to promulgate a new mindset may be clear:
I feel you, my friend!
Whether you’re a single parent (some of the most “single” parents are married), your child is especially strong-willed and “difficult,” or you have other big challenges, I want to offer hope!
My goal is to save you time and frustration, worry and tears.
I hate that your suffering and searching could go on as long as mine did when maybe, just possibly, my speaking out could help speed that process up for you. So here I am with hope in my heart.
The second family is using this same authoritarian paradigm but it appears to be working just fine. The kids are obedient, things are smooth for the most part, and there is much love to go around. The parents have a tight handle on things. This describes the home I was raised in.
So why might any of this apply to you? Why consider a new way of thinking when old ways are working just fine?
Well, I feel for the kids. I was one of them.
Perhaps it’s not going quite as well in the hearts of your kids as they would have you believe…
Now that my eyes are open to it, I have become stunned by the number of children in loving homes who (though generally content and happy): feel they don’t have a voice; don’t feel comfortable letting their true thoughts and feelings be known; don’t feel appreciated and valued (unless they achieve–or pretend–a sameness with their parents, or can jump through an acceptable number of hoops).
The result is not necessarily a lack of love, but often a lack of Depth, a lack of Real, and a lack of Joy in those relationships, to the point that emotional detachment and even physical distance become the most desired option to children. Children often feel this way without their parents even knowing it!
Or….you may be a family of a third variety, just starting out but concerned and open minded realizing that the stress, pressures, and anxieties of our day make for a daunting atmosphere in which to raise children. Yikes. This puts your antennae up high for extra parenting tools.
Whatever your situation, would you mind if we take a fresh look down a less-traveled parental mindset? Could these become the goals highest on your parental totem pole?
- A completely flexible and ever-adjusting household, run almost exclusively by principles;
- Children who not only CAN talk to us about anything, because they feel it emotionally safe, but who WANT to talk to us about everything—even the hardest things—because our relationship is that tight…
- Same between siblings; 😊
- Children who feel free to voice their opinions and even discontent, free to say what is true and important to them at any given moment, no “elephants in the room” or even “dirt swept under rugs”;
- Children who—using Truth, Conscience, and Love as ultimate authorities—drive their own education and growth, freeing up your time and energy;
- Children who are Genuine, the precise people in view of those they want to impress, as they are out of it—no respecter of persons;
- Children who are Confident in themselves, who despite the mistakes they will make along the way, believe deeply that it is a GOOD THING to be who they are.
In the coming weeks and months, we’ll discuss more specific ideas of how to shift to and operate under this new mindset. I welcome your worries and questions and am sure that just like us and our kids, we will learn more together than we could ever learn alone.
If you choose to take this journey, please plan to give yourself a whole bunch of mercy and grace along the way, because I can assure you that despite all the mistakes you will make, it is a GOOD THING to be YOU.