Thursday, September 30, 2010
All the decisions that you make (or do not make, which is really making a decision, nonetheless) in the early years of parenting have a huge impact on your child discipline approach—and eventually on the behavior of your kids. Whether you begin your parenting with the parents as the, well, parents—or whether you begin your parenting allowing small children to call the shots—dictates the tone of your home, the obedience and contentment of your children, and even what kind of teens you will have in years to come. We call this early decision that of choosing either the “child-controlled home” or the “parent-controlled home.”
In the original movie, “Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory,” an extremely naughty girl finds herself in a lot of trouble because, quite frankly, she is spoiled rotten. She asks for everything, and if she does not get what she wants when she wants it, she throws a ten-year-old tantrum. Her indulgent father continuously gives in to her demands, even to the point of trying to convince Mr. Wonka to sell him one of his Oompa Loompas, the pint-sized candy makers from Loompa Land, for his dear Veruca as she cries out, “I want an Oompa Loompa now, Daddy!”
Having a child-controlled home does not sound that terrible in itself. After all, if we have children, shouldn’t we center our homes and lives around them? Believe me, I am all for sacrificing and centering my world around my children during the child-rearing days—taking the time and energy that is needed to raise them properly for the Lord. However, taking our responsibility to raise our children properly, focusing several years of our lives on their upbringing is significantly different than having a child controlled home in which the children, not the parents, dictate things.
In the child-controlled home, where and what the family will eat, what is watched on television or at the movies, what a child will wear, and all the plethora of decisions that are made each week in a family’s life are made by a child—or children. Oh, it isn’t that the children are the authorities. It is just that because the atmosphere of the home is so influenced by the children’s responses to every decision, those decisions are made in such a way to keep the children happy—to keep them from throwing fits, complaining, whining, rolling their eyes, sighing, pouting, yelling, and arguing.
At times it can seem so insignificant that a parent hardly notices that a child is running things. Jenny likes this. And Jenny wants that. And Jenny likes it when we do this. And Jenny has to have that. And the next thing you know, the home is controlled, in large part, by “Jenny.” Suddenly, the parent (especially the mother) is afraid to make any decision that she knows Jenny will not like. And that family has a “Jenny-controlled home.”
*For the next few days, I will be using excerpts from our book, “The Well-Trained Heart,” to lay the foundation for parenting/disciplining young children. You may order WTH at www.tfths.com or by calling 260-597-7415.