Wednesday, July 13, 2016
When you purchase a house, usually you take out a mortgage. Getting a mortgage requires you to decide how long of a period you are going to agree to in order to pay off the loan. Mortgages are one of the times in life we are forced to face the future.
Unfortunately, with parenting we are not required to think about the future and and often we parents get so caught up in the day to day that we fail miserably at looking at the long term. Every parent knows that starting from the day that your baby is born, he/she requires a lot of work. It can feel overwhelming at times, and is doubly hard as a single parent to put forth the effort each and every day to be a strong and effective parent. But lately, I have observed in many different settings a disturbing trend of parents who seem to have given up. I can't help myself, but I am an observer of family dynamics. And for whatever reason, in the last few weeks I have observed parents completely ignoring the behavior of their children, when the children were crying out for attention. This type of parenting is likely to have long term effects. I wonder if parents have heard so much negative buzz about "helicopter" parenting that they think that ignoring their children is a better path. Let me assure you--it is equally wrong to ignore your children and their behavior as it is to over manage and interfere with them at every turn.
Children need you to observe and monitor them. As they get older they generally need less minute by minute parenting--but it is not good parenting to completely ignore them and their behavior. Children need to be taught by their parents the standards of behavior required in different settings--a restaurant, a religious service, or a social gathering all require different sets of polite behaviors that children are not born knowing about. It is your job as a parent to prepare them for civil society by teaching them manners and polite behavior in all the settings that they are exposed to.
The long term effects of good parenting will bless you with children who respect you and turn to you for guidance, but at the same time are able to make good choices. But ignoring your children and hoping they will learn to behave somehow from school or other environments will leave you with children who will continually push the boundaries in order to get your attention and feel you care enough about them to notice them. Children who lack boundaries will engage in riskier behaviors in order to figure out where you will finally draw the line. Research backs this up. Children raised by permissive parents show higher rates of risky behaviors.* Why? Possibly because they are trying to get the parent's attention and possibly because they are trying to figure out if the parent cares about them.
Substituting permissiveness or lax parenting for over parenting is not the answer. Remember that your children want and need your guidance. Remember that your children are a reflection of you. Teach them how to behave in a variety of situations so that they are well prepared for a successful future. Think about the long term effects of the parenting you are doing on a daily basis.
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*For further information, read Dr. Diana Baumrind's Studies on Parenting Styles at the University of California Berkeley.