Say No to Wimpy Parenting
I believe I am the disciplinarian in my home. You would agree if you could see the slight grin on my husband’s face when he “scolds” our daughters. Although I have to admit that saying I’m the disciplinarian is not saying a whole lot or at least as much as I want it to say.
I figured that out when I was talking recently to one of my best girlfriends about how she disciplines her son. One year he was slacking off on his schoolwork and she decided he would have a gift-free birthday — cards only. She made sure he did not receive gifts from anyone, including grandparents and other family members.
Another time she came home late to discover he hadn’t finished his homework. She awakened him and made him complete the work — right through his slumber. I was feeling kind of sorry for the little guy when she told me, but now I’m thinking that maybe she has the right idea. My friend believes in enforcing the rules and enforcing consequences when those rules are broken.
Well I’ve got plenty of rules but the enforcement piece needs some tweaking.
As a parent I’m feeling kind of wimpy and as a classroom teacher I’m thinking I like the difference between the kids who are held accountable and those who are not. They work harder at everything and they seem to have a certain focus on doing their best all the time. My friend’s son understands what is expected and strives to live up to those expectations. He is being held accountable. He knows there will be consequences if he falls short. What kind of classrooms and homes would we have if we truly believed in enforcing the rules we set?
So I’m learning from my friend that it’s okay to be tough. They won’t hate you (at least not forever). Children can accept discipline and accountability that is born out of love. I believe when children profoundly understand they have to answer to someone, i.e. you the parent, it’s reflected in their actions even when they’re not with you.
The funny thing is, when you establish this culture of accountability and discipline, a piece of you is always with them.
– Vanessa W. Snyder is a writer, National Board-certified teacher and mother of two daughters in Washington, D.C. The author of a new novel, “The Second First Lady,” and co-author of titles in the “50 Ways to Christ” series, she can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.