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Yes, there is a new epidemic sweeping the country: parents who are afraid to discipline. So afraid to discipline their kids that they are willing to turn their offspring into unhappy monsters that no one likes to be with, not even the parents!
I call this new disorder DISCIPLINE-PHOBIA.
It’s easy to diagnose. You can see lots of cases across a crowded store or in a restaurant where parents are letting their kids run wild. You can find cases in homes where kids rule the roost and parents do nothing but beg their kids to behave. Teachers see the results of children brought up by discipline-phobic parents every day in the classroom. These are the kids who think they are the center of the universe and are entitled to good grades but don’t want to work for them.
What causes this dread disorder?
Parents are trembling with the thought that they might have to do something their child won’t like. Why on earth are so many contemporary parents afraid to discipline? Why are they busily engaged in brat-making?
Lots of reasons: Some parents simply are NOT COMFORTABLE IN THEIR PARENTING ROLE or LACK CONFIDENCE in their parenting skills or find it TOO DIFFICULT to discipline their children so they simply don’t do it.
Some parents REACT TO THE WAY THEY WERE RAISED. They may have been treated harshly, or actually abused, by their parents. Determined not to treat their children the same way, they overreact and never correct their children at all.
Many parents today LACK PARENTING SKILLS. These are usually first-time parents who didn’t do much baby-sitting and are not sure which end of a child is up. They manage pretty well until the baby gets to be a toddler. Then children reach a developmental stage when oppositional behavior is not only normal but necessary to their growing-up.
Some of these parents are MOTHERS EMPLOYED OUTSIDE THE HOME who feel guilty about their work status. They are reluctant to discipline the children because of their guilt. “How can I come down on the kids when I’ve deprived them of a mother at home all day long?”
Some parents truly BELIEVE CHILDREN ARE VULNERABLE and will feel deprived of parental love if discipline is applied. Such misguided parents can be found trying to reason with a two-year old.
I am beginning to realize that one major reason is PARENTS WANT THEIR CHILDREN TO BE HAPPY, no matter what the cost. These parents truly believe that their role is to be family happiness managers. I suspect this unrealistic and unworkable philosophy comes from two sources: 1) ignorance of the five things no parent can make any children do (eat, fall asleep, poop, be happy, or grow up the way you dream they will) and 2) unhappiness in the parents about how they were raised and lack of insight into the fact nearly all of us feel the same way.
Why is the desire to make your kid happy at any cost unworkable? Because nobody can make another person happy. Happiness comes form within. Parents can nurture and love and facilitate happiness but, I repeat, NO PARENT CAN MAKE A CHILD HAPPY!
Recognize yourself as a parent with discipline-phobia? Is there a cure?
Yes but it does not start with how to deal with the brat your child is fast becoming. It starts with YOU.
LOOK WITHIN. This is always difficult as no one enjoys looking at the mirror which shows us our faults. But make the effort to find out why you are discipline-phobic. If you need knowledge, take a parenting class or hit the library. If you lack parenting self-esteem or confidence or if yo were treated harshly by your own parents, get counseling. You have already made an important first step to making counseling work for you. You know you have a problem and are asking what you can do about it.
If you are a mother who works outside the home, make peace with yourself–nearly two-thirds of mother do so and what you are doing does not harm your children if you provide good substitute care and avoid discipline-phobia.
Every young child must know the parent is in charge. Why? Because young children have not been on the planet long enough to understand their own impulses and how to control them. Parents are the very necessary external source of control. If the parent won’t or can’t take charge the child feels, “I am so powerful that even my parents are afraid. My impulses are so strong that terrible things will happen!”
This is terrifying to a young child who is aware of angry thoughts but doesn’t yet know that wishes do not become actions and that impulses can be controlled.
When you feel you understand the source of your problem and are doing something about it, master those techniques that enable parents to deal with children so they can raise responsible kids instead of brats.
Read my book, ParenTips, or read the Discipline Section of ParenTips, especially Power Struggles and Master the Effective Command.
TELL YOUR FRIENDS THEY CAN GET A PROFESSIONAL, PERSONAL, AND PRIVATE ANSWER TO THEIR PARENTING QUESTIONS BY GOING TO info@ParentKidsRight.com