Last night we were driving home from church on the narrow, curvy river road when a cat ran out in front of the car. I instinctively slammed on the brakes just as the cat changed its mind and dashed back to safety. We were all shaken up yet relieved that the cat escaped with one of its nine lives. That experience has stayed with me all night as I relate it to my child’s life.
The cat did not know to stop, look left, look right and look left again. Our children do not either. We must teach them how to be safe, how to live a happy and productive life. A cat who does not know the rules is often a flat cat. We do not want our children to be flattened by life and its unforgiving realities. Therefore we have the obligation to teach them structure and discipline. Yes, I used that word discipline. It is considered negative in our culture that caters to kids, giving in to their every whim, allowing them to run the household. Parents fear discipline will hurt the self esteem of children, saying “no” might make them feel worthless or deprived. However discipline properly administered is the greatest form of love.
Our home is NOT a democracy and yours should not be either. Parents should be in charge, they are the general; children are the troops. Is this fair? Certainly! One can not win without the other. As a leader, a Recycled Mom must be an example. Think before you speak because you must keep your word once a command has been issued. State the expectations clearly and simply so the child understands regardless of age. Even a one year old can clean up after himself and will learn to do so automatically once trained. Once soldiers have received basic training, the general can move on to more important maneuvers.
Set consequences for breaking the rules then stick to them. Never give into whining, complaining, bickering and crying. My boy knows these things make me irritable rather than amicable so he very seldom tries it. His cousin though recently discovered that our house rules are firm. He sleeps over enough to know how we do things. We were visiting a community church for a Scout occasion and J. was not happy about it. He complained several times and stated he wanted to attend our home church. I affirmed I heard him and said we did too but S. is committed to Scouts and needed to do this as part of the program. J. proceeded to whine about it twice more. I did give him some leeway since he was just a visiting soldier and not living with us. I then asked him to let it go because we were indeed going to the other church. As were were driving there, he again griped about it so I drove him home. I told him since he was so unhappy about my decision, he didn’t have to go. He stood there with a shocked look on his face as we drove away. Since then he does not complain.
Certainly we must allow children a voice and sometimes a rule or household habit will change because of their input. They cannot however be allowed to run the home or the parents.Ultimately the Recycled Mom has the final say and the child needs to know that. Actions have consequences. Smart choices have happy consequences, foolish ones do not. Structure and discipline create healthy families. Parents and caregivers are not worn out. Children feel safe and know they are being guided, not forced.
Consistent rules and discipline create a relationship between family matters. They are not concrete walls that place barriers between people, but windows that protect against the elements of the world and shelter a family in a coy environment.
Raising smart cats is fun. Burying flat cats is heartbreaking. It is worth the hard work now to know our little kitties are growing up to understand the danger but are not afraid to stop, look, listen and then cross the road.