Wednesday, March 12, 2014

When it's tough being tough ...

Sometimes parenting is tougher than others -- especially when you know what your child is asking for isn't in his or her best interest.  That's when those little lips pucker into a pout and their eyes cloud over in disappointment.

That's when it's tough being tough - but you've gotta hang in there and do the right thing.

Giving in to pouting doesn't help anyone. Not them - because they need to know that "no" means no - and it's final.  There's no bickering or dickering to get the verdict flipped.  It doesn't help you to buckle and give in, either.  If you do, you'll be upset because you backed down on something you considered important enough to refuse in the first place.  We don't do our children any favors when they win in those situations. 

Did you know children really do want boundaries? 

There is safety in boundaries, as demonstrated years ago by a simple school yard fence.  Before the fence was erected, the students tended to huddle near the center of the playground during their recess period.  They weren't sure where their boundaries were, so they stayed in the center of the yard and didn't branch out to the other areas they could have used.  Then the school erected a fence, and the children began to spread out and enjoy the entire field.  There was security in boundaries.

In the same way, our children should be able to approach us and know that we are their safe spot - someone they can respect and follow - someone who will maintain boundaries for them and help them feel secure when their world seems a little scary.  To constantly flip flop or move the boundaries is confusing for you and for your child ... a bit like moving furniture around every other day and expecting them not to trip or stub their toe.

So, once parents agree on basic family rules, they need to hold the line.  

That's why it's important for both parents to discuss some basic rules and guidelines.  Children need someone bigger and stronger and smarter and tougher to bump into now and then.  Someone that knows the rules and helps the child keep them.  Someone that has been there before them to mark the way and help them succeed.  Someone who's big enough and smart enough to handle their fears, their questions, their mistakes and their failures... and still love them unconditionally. 

While giving in may seem easier at times, it actually makes your life a whole lot tougher.

Even a toddler knows when he wins the battle and will store that information away for the next battle.  If you give in once, there's a chance you will again, right?  So don't play that game with your children.  Stand firm and hold the line - always with love and a sincere concern for your child's best interest in the long run.  It's not easy to be the tough guy, but somebody's gotta do it, right?


Case in point:  We learned from a well-known teen counselor that many teens run away from home to join the U.S. Marine Corps.  Why, of all things - would they run away from those authority figures they despise to join the toughest corps in the military?  Because rebellious kids need to know there is someone out there that is tougher than they are - someone who will set boundaries and stand like a stone wall they can't budge.  Those same rebels can actually make good Marines, because they've finally met someone (a drill instructor) who makes them follow rules and respect authority.  Worth taking note of, parents.  Lovingly be that boundary and that stone wall for your children.

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