Friday, August 17, 2007

Can Parents Be Both The Boss & The Buddy To Their Children?

Being able to balance being the 'boss' as well as your child's 'buddy' is absolutely necessary for a healthy parent child relationship. Some experts teach that we should always be the boss and never play the role of buddy. Others suggest that your son or daughter should be your best friend. Both extremes are unhealthy.
Your child should never be in doubt as to who is the boss.Personally speaking, when growing up, the times I felt my dad was my buddy were those rare and wonderful moments we spent gardening or fishing. I knew he was the boss; there was no doubt about that in our family. But for those magical moments, he was also my friend.The problem is that one without the other gives a dangerous imbalance. If you make an attempt to be your child's best friend above everything else, you will relinquish your ability to be an effective parent, able to wield authority when needed.
If you refuse to accept the role of friend on occasion, you relinquish the chance to show love in a special way and to stand close to your children in their unguarded moments. Most parents have no trouble playing the role of boss but find it difficult to take the time to be a friend. Children do not respond to rules; they respond to relationships. It's true that you can get your children to "behave" by enforcing the rules. You can control your children to a certain point by running a tight ship, but that doesn't necessarily mean you are getting their loving and obedient response. What you are getting is their reaction, which may look like obedience on the surface, but beneath there is fear, frustration, and anger.
Unless you establish a loving, accepting relationship with your child, you can almost count on trouble down the line. How Do You Balance Punishment & Praise?Punishment is a method of teaching principle - not a tool for revenge. Keeping that in mind will often make it easier to decide what (and whether) punishment should be handed out. If you use punishment simply as a deterrent ("and if you ever do that again, you know what will happen to you"), it will stop being effective when your kid figures out a way to keep you from finding out. But if it is used both as a deterrent and as a way to teach your child principles, the inner conviction that develops will stand even when the enforcer is not around. Here are two overriding rules to keep in mind:

1. First, punishment should always be carried out when you are under control. The minute you find out that your thirteen-year-old son took the car for a joyride may not be the best time to decide the sentence. Twenty years of hard labor in a foreign country may seem entirely appropriate to you at that moment; an hour or two later, when you've cooled off, you'll probably realize that five years would be plenty.With smaller children, it's often necessary to respond immediately, so that they can connect the punishment with the behavior. It's still important to keep control. A broken cookie jar may enrage you, but the child had no idea of the importance of the cookie jar. Express your displeasure about the sneaky action of stealing cookies, then wait until you've cooled down a bit about the cookie jar before taking action.

2. Second, avoid punishing older children (from about school age up) in front of friends if possible. You will never meet a child who didn't feel that a family trust was being violated by public punishment. You will also never meet a child who didn't try at one time or other to get away with bad behavior in the presence of others. Unless the child is clearly being manipulative, try to do your correction in private. If you're being manipulated, do your correction on the spot

- and then make it clear that your action was necessitated by your child's manipulative behavior. Another reason to avoid public punishment is that we parents can't always trust ourselves to maintain control over our emotions in that situation. We're often so embarrassed by our children's behavior and by how it reflects on us that the punishment can cease to be punishment for principles violated and become revenge for our embarrassment.

No comments: