In honor of my youngest daughter’s 23rd birthday yesterday I have been in “what we did as parents” because we are truly blessed to have three wonderful daughters who seem to be pretty well adjusted people, who love God, care for others and are on track to be in the dream careers that they chose after graduating from their dream colleges.
So when I am asked these days “what did you guys do”, I juxtaposed that with what I hear from parents in my Family coaching role. We were consistent, we had rules, we had expectations and we said NO while most of the issues I work with families and parents on are opposite of being consistent, having rules, setting expectations and being ok with saying NO.
Consistency is one of the most important behaviors that kids need to see from their parents. It creates the road map, it defines the parameters, supports your rules, helps to define expectations and it eventually takes the sting out of NO.
Rules should be based on the family’s core values. Those things that are true for that specific family regardless if it is something the neighbors, friends or other family members do. The rules go hand in hand with being consistent, especially when your family rule is challenged by what is acceptable in society. We had a rule that unless you could explain to us the meaning of and why you needed one, you were not allowed to have a boyfriend until you were old enough.
Expectations came with the territory of being a member of the family. You were expected to go to school, get good grades, go to church, save some money, treat everyone with dignity and respect, respect your elders, greet people especially your family members, eat dinner with the family, leave the T.V off during it, go see your sister play unless you had your own thing to be at, plan your activities ahead of time, bring us all the information if you wanted to go hang out otherwise don’t come to us with the question, you are going to college, always try your best, once start something you had to finish it, and I am sure many more but you get the picture.
We said NO to things that were not consistent with our core values, went against a rule or was opposite an expectation.
I tell parents all the time that kids learn what they live and that every family has a script that children will figure out and their role based on what they are allowed to do. In every family there is a natural order of things. Parents want kids to grow up and be independent, good smart decision makers. Parents have to measure discipline with allowing kids find their way.
Lastly, parents stay calm, stay positive, be consistent, have clear rules, set firm and reasonable expectations, and gosh dog say NO, they are not your friends they are your kids.