DO YOU THINK TODAY’S PARENTS ARE TOO TOUGH OR TOO SOFT?

I’ve been asked to offer my opinion about the above.  For examples of each extreme try to catch a few episodes of Wife Swap.  Tough and soft love parents are pitted against each other.  Usually, the tough parents soften up and the soft parents toughen up.  On Wife Swap, all the kids seem to do okay.  Moreover, unless abused, once adolescence is past, most kids whether raised by tough or soft love parents seem to do okay.  I suspect, however that those raised by the tough love parents do better negotiating the ups and downs of life.

Soft parents make soft kids and when life gets tough, soft kids don’t do well.

SO WHAT IS A PARENT TO DO?

First, model and teach manners.  I’m not saying worry so much about which fork to use, although in some settings you look better if you know things like that.  Good manners essentially repect the rights and needs of others.  “Please” and “Thank you” matter, writing thank you notes matter, R.S.V.P.s matter,  holding the door for the person behind you matters, getting up to give your seat to someone older or handicapped matters; not leaving a mess for others to pick up matters.  These are the manners that matter and seem to be in decline.

Two years ago, I was riding a bus from the airport in New York.  It was crowded.  Most of the young people had seats, and a number of elderly did not.  Nor did anyone offer an obviously pregnant and weary young woman a seat.  It got worse.  The driver had to stop to pick up a woman in a wheelchair.  This meant, in order to clear the aisle for the necessary space for her wheelchair, about ten people had to exit the bus and wait for the next one.  When the driver explained the situation, the only people to exit the bus were those over 5o and two Latino men.  Two young woman occupying seats that would have to be folded up cursed the driver.  Terrible manners.

Second, don’t be afraid of the word punishment.  Humans are programmed to seek pleasure and avoid pain. Punishment is pain applied following a behavior in order to decrease the occurance of that behavior.  It works.  Praise for doing the right thing works too and often better, but punishment should be in every parent’s tool kit.  Time out, loss of privilege, extra work, and the loss of a parent’s good regard are powerful weapons. “I’m disappointed” are very potent words when said by a loving parent to a pre-teen or teen for violations of important rules.

Third, instill a work ethic. Our two and half year old grandson knows to put trash in the garbage.  He is being taught to pick and put away his toys.  In time he will get an allowance, but three quarters of it will be earned by obeying house rules and doing chores.  He will most likely be one of the kids bagging groceries at the local super market.

If I could wave a magic wand no one would enter college until they had worked and lived on their own for two years.  For too many youth of today college is partying.  Not healthy.

Guess I do want more parents to toughen up.

PRACTICE KINDNESS

Care and share.  If you have ideas about how to keep caring, share them here.  If you think another parent might find help in this post, share it.  Meanwhile, thank you and as I tell myself over and over, “Stay Strong.”

Katherine [Image Source]

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