Some of you may have been upset with my previous blog post entitled "And the good news is: I'm never going to nag you about this again!" You may have read it and thought to yourself, "Wow! That seems harsh! Whatever happened to negotiating and communicating? Aren't those important aspects of healthy relationships?" Yes, there is no doubt that those things are very important in relationships. However, when we are raising our children, we need to see the job we do (initially) as leadership, not relationship. We must realize that it is only through leadership that we can move into a relationship with our children later in life. That seems to be the crux of the matter these days. So often you hear about parents who try to be their children's "friend". We are finding out more and more that being a parent and being a friend cannot happen at the same time in our children's lives. We must be the parent in their formative years: leading them, guiding them with good decision making, keeping them out of trouble, helping them to learn to be responsible, resourceful and reliable, teaching them to deal with the consequences of the choices they make, giving them the skills they will need once they launch into the big, sometimes bad world and are on their own!
Unfortunately, too many parents are too worried about whether their kids "like" them or not. If the parents are workaholics (and granted, some have a tough go of it to make ends meet, especially in our current economy) they feel the pressure to have a "friendly" relationship with their children when they are home, because they feel guilty that their time with their kids is so limited. Consequently, we must ask ourselves, "Are we doing them a favor by seeing our relationship with them as a 'friendship'?" They have plenty of friends their age. They need us to be leaders and yes, authorities!
So many parents cringe at that word but research has proven that children do well with boundaries. There is security in knowing there will be consistency with consequences for behavior that is not acceptable. There is security in a "no" answer when a request is in itself irresponsible. Our jobs as parents is to equip our children to be positive, contributing members of society. We need to always think ahead and envision what we want our children to be when they are 25 or 30. Then we will know that our leadership, which will naturally evolve into friendship out of mutual respect, has paid off. Isn't that our ultimate goal?