August 20, 2014 at 12:00 AM
No, it's not a typo. It's the truth. Kids don't listen because we've trained them not to. Keep reading and you'll see that we parents have created the monster (and there's still time to tame it). See if any of the following examples sound familiar.
I remember when my kids were little and we did the 'count to three' thing. Think about it -- we were already telling them that it was okay to delay. A little older and it morphed into, "If I have to ask you/tell you one more time..." How many requests had we already made? Then there was the broken formula -- state expectations, be frustrated with no results, threaten and repeat. What were we thinking?! What are YOU thinking when you respond this way?
Apparently we parents aren't thinking clearly. We're reacting emotionally, not rationally. What's going on when you threaten and don't follow through? You're likely feeling frustrated and trying to avoid an all-out confrontation or explosion (which doesn't go anywhere good). You may have a hard time seeing your child disappointed or sad. Whatever the reason, it's all about you.
In order to be ready to launch one day, kids need to understand and respect limits and boundaries. You're not doing them any favors by letting them slide. It's a funny thing that parents tell kids that in the adult world nobody will coddle them or change the rules to make it easier on them. Yet these same parents will do exactly that. How in the world can they be prepared for life if you don't let them experience it now? Many of you have said that your parents would never have stood for the behaviors and attitudes you get from your own children, that you wouldn't have dreamed of not doing as you were told.
This isn't a power struggle. It's about parenting. It takes strength, courage and conviction to do what you know is right for your children. It takes being willing to risk their anger, and pushing your need for a 'relationship' temporarily to the side. Some days it takes nerves of steel to acknowledge their unhappiness, stand your ground, and calmly restate your expectations.
Their anger will not last forever... but the benefits of your commitment to them will last a lifetime.
Fern Weis is a parent coach and former middle school teacher. Since 2008, she has been coaching and educating parents of teens and tweens, beginning by taking parents back to basics: breaking through the fears they have for their children, so they can confidently do whatever it takes (including what feels tough) to raise confident, self-sufficient, resilient kids who are successful in high school, college and beyond.
In her work with parents, Fern shares from her personal experience as the mother of an out-of-control teen. She learned that love and good intentions were not enough… in fact, they were part of the problem. Nothing was going to change until she did. So she did, and doing that work changed everything.
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