Saturday, January 20, 2007

The Secret to Screwing up Your Kid

I've discovered the secret to screwing up kids.

It is stupidly simple.

1. If one or both parents are screamers, and never differentiate between big problems and little, unimportant incidents - meaning dropping a fork off the table gets a kid just as much yelling as crashing the car - then the kids will be screwed up, insecure and terrified of making decisions.

2. If one parent yells and the other is passive and never confronts the yeller, the kids will be screwed AND will have no support. Yelling means YOU are out of control. You being out of control does nothing to correct your child's behaviour; however, it will give them a very poor lesson about coping and they WILL use this lesson on YOUR GRANDKIDS!

3. If you let you kid get away with bad behavior and only address it in the third person, and after the fact, you will screw them up. "People shouldn't do those things," or "People shouldn't say those things," means nothing to a kid.

3a. "You will not do that, and if you do, this will be the consequence," (which you absolutely follow up on!)is the direct, first person, this-applies-to-you-my-child, way to handle bad behaviour.

3b. "No" is said ONCE! Do not respond to entreaties... you will give in, you will suck and your child will be screwed up because you will have taught them to manipulate.

4. If you will not let go, you will raise dependant, frightened children, who, in Will Smith's words, will go "looking for a master."

I am NOT a religious person; however, I will quote - correctly - scripture here: Spare your children the rod - meaning unwavering, consistent rules applied with love an HONOUR - and you spoil (meaning RUIN) them. Further, the sins of the fathers (crappy, self serving, selfish parenting, stupid, illogical rules, etc.) are visited (manifest themselves) in the sons (children in general, because your girl children are people too). Provoke NOT your children to anger. In other words, don't be a putz. Don't take out your insecurities, lack of forethought, fear, disappointment, sadness or frustration on your children.

5. Your children are individuals. They will not necessarily think as you do, dress, eat, sleep, read like you or even be interested in anything that interests you. That does not make them bad or wrong. It makes them thinking humans with opinions. If you can't tolerate your children having opinions - and if you don't ever learn from those opinions, perhaps, BEFORE you have children, you should choose to get a dog. Better yet, a cat.

As a parent, you are the Sensei, not the master in the western sense of the word. You are the guide. Guides to not push, shame, hurt, belittle or dishonour their charges.

As for honour, this is the greatest lesson you can give your children: a sense of honour; honour of self particularly. Those who are honourable towards themselves will honour those around them.

Parents who are not honourable to themselves are very likely to raise dishonourable children. Your children will learn what you teach them. If you guide them well, show them you honour yourself and thus you honour them, you will raise wonderful humans.

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