Do you love your children...enough?

 

 

 

 By Sandy Spurgeon McDaniel

 

Do you love your children? Anyone who picks up this magazine and reads the articles within it cares about being a good parent and dearly loves their children. As I watch many of today's parents, I wonder if they have the courage to love their children enough to teach them how to successfully and lovingly function in the world.

Do you love your children enough to create boundaries and serve consequences? Far too many children rule their homes, misusing power and failing to learn how to respect the inevitable boundaries in life. The difficulty is to create a discipline system that allows a parent to be consistent (no system works without consistency!) and empowers the child to make more appropriate choices. To give you an idea of how one of my discipline strategies (parentingsos.com) works, let's examine it through the situation of telling your child to do something so many times that you become a raving maniac. On the McDaniel system, you ask one time. The child fails to comply. You say, “You are on the Minute Drill,” and the child decides it is not worth it NOT to comply so does what you ask.

 What “You are on the Minute Drill” means is that the child has one minute to comply with your request, and after the free minute a penny goes in a jar with the child's name on it. Each penny means that 15 minutes will be taken off something fun during the day: a favorite TV program, computer/gadget time, going into the pool, going out to play with friends, playing a family game, etc. There are lots of examples and complete training in my book, “Don't Feed the Dragon,” on parentingsos.com. The point is that when it costs too much, a child will change a behavior.

Do you love your children enough to say, “No, you are not going to do that because you are already too busy.” I was talking to a boy this summer who told me about his busy daily schedule, and I said to him, “I bet you can't wait to have a day off from all the activities!” He responded, “I would be happy to have a day with only three activities!” The problem for parents who have two or more (especially more) kids is that classes, practices and games require you to function at top speed all the time. “Hurry up! We are going to be late!” becomes a mantra from which the children cringe.

 Do you love your children enough to say, “No, we aren't spending that kind of money on that at this time.” You can't grow up having whatever you want and become a responsible spender. Even a good idea, one that would benefit a child, needs to be calculated off of what is reasonable spending for your family. I don't think a child can comprehend what it costs to do a sport, be in a play, or participate in something that requires ongoing expenses. The parent needs to draw the line. Boundaries need to be set for how many activities are undertaken, how expensive an activity is, and whether participating in activities gives the child any time to be a child.

Do you love your children enough to get off your cell phone and be with them? Everywhere I go I see children misbehaving in order to get the attention of a parent who is on a cell phone. I see families at dinner, the children abandoned by one or both parents using cell phones. I see a child who was just picked up from school, filled with adventures to be shared, abandoned in the car by a cell phone mom. Back in the days when we had simple answering machines on our home phones, I had a message on it during the times my children were home: “This is my time with my children. Leave a message and I will get back to you ASAP.” 

What children need most is CONNECTION. They need to feel connected to each parent. Connection requires attentiveness — caring about what your child thinks and feels — and expressed love. Do your children think talking on your cell phone is more important to you than they are? This parenting time will pass faster than you realize. BE with your children now! Unlike a movie, you can't see/do it again; turn off your cell phones, please!

Do you love your child enough to get help from those who have wisdom and experience? On parentingsos.com, I have four books. My private parenting sessions are tailored for your family. On stlukesonline.com, you can sign up for my new parenting seminar on August 15 (please tell your friends!). Have me come to your preschool, school, church or club to teach a parenting seminar (208-514-4083).

 

For 54 years, Sandy has been an international speaker and recognized authority on families and children. Author of five books, columnist, founder of parentingsos.com, she is a resident of Meridian and loves spending time with her three Idaho grandchicks. Semi-retired, she speaks to schools, churches, and MOPS groups and provides parent coaching sessions in person and on the phone.