Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it. Proverbs 22:6
No less of an authority than Bill Cosby once said that he didn’t know what the secret of success was but he knew that the secret of failure was trying to keep everybody happy all of the time. He’s right, and that is never more apparent than when it comes to parenting.
The following are ten ways guaranteed to put you in the “flunking” category when grade cards are given out for parenting.
#1: GIVE YOUR CHILD UNCLEAR DIRECTIONS AS TO WHAT YOU EXPECT.
Let your child make his own decisions. That gives you lots of slack when you finally yell, “Hey, why didn’t you come home at a decent hour? Didn’t you hear me tell you to get yourself home before this?”
#2: DON’T SET LIMITS.
After all, kids have a mind of their own so let your youngster stay up as late as he wants, watch the same programs on TV you enjoy, and do what he pleases. You don’t want to restrict social development. Remember, pleasing your child is important, so forget restrictions. They are negative.
#3: DON’T LET YOUR KID OUT-ARGUE YOU.
When he says, “Why should I eat my spinach?” be ready with all that stuff about good nutrition and a balanced diet being important. True, your youngster is only three years old, but by giving him all the reasons for good nutrition, who knows, that three-year-old may well grab that fork and clean off his plate.
#4: IF YOUR CHILD IS RIGHT, SIDE WITH HIM AND FORGET WHAT YOUR HUSBAND OR WIFE SAID.
After all, isn’t justice more important than hanging together? Besides, your wife may change her mind when she hears you side with your child.
#5: IF YOUR CHILD DOESN’T HEAR YOU, RAISE YOUR VOICE.
Disobedience in a child can usually be countered by yelling loudly and if that doesn’t work, add intensity to your voice—a low growl if you are male or a high treble shriek if you are a female. Now, don’t let the fact that your child will yell back at you deter you in the least. You are bigger and can always shout louder.
#6: SHAME OR BELITTLE YOUR CHILD TO HELP HIM RISE TO THE LEVEL OF PERFECTION YOU DESIRE.
Telling him, “You should be ashamed of yourself, not getting as good grades as your sister did when she was in first grade!” should, no doubt, cause your youngster to buckle down, try harder, and listen more intently to the instruction of your teacher.
#7: LEAN ON YOUR YOUNGSTER FOR EMOTIONAL SUPPORT.
Especially if you are a single mom or dad. This will make him think that he is emotionally strong and equal to you.
#8: DON’T ATTEMPT TO BE CONSISTENT.
After all, we are all human and a few inconsistencies are all part of life.
#9: NEVER FORGET TO REMIND YOUR CHILD OF PAST FAILURES.
Telling him, “If I let you do this, I suppose you will disappoint me again—just like you did last time.” After all, cataloging past failures comes in handy as a tool to help direct your child’s future behavior.
#10: EXPECT PERFECTION.
After all, unless you shoot for the moon, you can’t expect to hit the clothesline.
Obviously, those ten statements are all wrong. And what does this prove? There are lots of ways to go wrong but few ways to go right. Remember, when it comes to values, they are primarily caught—not taught. Raise your child, not your voice. Model the message and remember what you are and what you do comes through more loudly and more clearly than anything you ever say.
“If I had it to do all over again,” says a Christian leader, “I’d talk less, love and pray more.” He had learned one of the great lessons of parenting. It’s still true.
Resource reading: 1 Samuel 1.