My Thoughts and Ideas

How to be a Great Parent!

on 2012/07/13

How to Be a Great Parent!

The Bible says, “Spare the rod and spoil the child!”  It also says, “Teach[1] them the way to go and they will follow!”

 But the question is, “How much rod and how much teach?”  This is not an easy answer but it is certain that if there is not “Rod”[2] used appropriately at an early age, no amount of teaching will get them to follow!”

These are bold and brash statements and I will attempt to explain my position with a real life story I was told by a parent. 

These parents have found the correct balance…but it didn’t just happen…they worked at parenting as a cohesive team! 

I have known this family for about 15 years.  Their children are now in their mid teens, with the oldest just having completed grade 11.  Both of their children are on the Honor Roll in school.  They are good athletes enjoying sports and are extraordinarily talented musicians.  Some would call them gifted and they may very well be so…but more importantly they have parents that are fully engaged.  

There oldest child is truly gifted in music, with a perfect pitch in her ear and voice.  Over the past 3 – 4 years she was encouraged to move toward the production side of music as she showed a real passion for this side of the music industry.  Her parents encouraged her with a music production career…that is until recently.  They had an epiphany and totally change direction in their opinion about a career in the music industry!    

Her Father and I were out for a walk, spoiling it by chasing a white ball.  He told me that they had suggested a career for their oldest daughter and explained to her that he would not support her in pursuing a university degree in music because the financial investment will not guarantee a financially successful career for her.   I was dumbfounded.  They recommended that their daughter should become a Pharmacist.  Imagine telling your teenager that he or she was not going to go to school to become what she was passionate about?  Unheard of…Parent abuse?  Not on your life.  Good parenting…ABSOULETLY!   Her parents know the value of, “Teach them the way they should go!”  

I was shocked!  In this day and age of live and let live, telling your teenager what career path you have chosen for them is virtually unheard of in our culture!  I needed to know the who, what, why and outcome of imposing their will on their daughter!    

Their father, who is much younger than me, and apparently much wiser, took the time to explain their decision to me, and it made a lot of sense.  

He told me there are two types of careers.  One style of a career fulfills a “Want” and the other fulfills a “Need.”  A “Want” career path relates to fulfilling your wants, such as becoming an artist, a poet, an athlete, a philosopher, a jeweler, interior designer.  These occupations fall into the want based careers. 

A “Need” career is a path that society needs to operate within.  These careers are in demand by society.  All areas of the Medical Field including all support staff such as Pharmacists, Physiotherapy, Clinical Technicians for X-ray, Ultra Sound, etc, labor style careers such as Truck Drivers particularly for the transportation of food products, Plumbers, Electricians.  Another NEED style of career will be in the care of the elderly…this is the fastest growing area in all sectors!  There is always a demand for “Need” based careers.

This all made incredible sense to me but the question remained, “How did you tell your daughter it was wiser to become a Pharmacist after encouraging her to become a Music Producer?”  After all, what can most of us tell a teenager?

“Well”, my friend said, “we have a very good relationship with trust and communication with our kids.  Together, my wife, daughter and I talked through the realities of our economy; different industries and “Need” verses “Want” based careers.  We painted a pretty good picture of how her being in a “Need” based career would give her financial freedom.  This would provide the opportunity to pursuit her passions, give her the flexibility and time to raise her own children, should that occur.  It’s also a portable career; Pharmacists are in demand around the world!”

Dumbfounded, I asked, “Was it just that simple?”  Which my friend had a good laugh about!

“No”, he said, “Actually it wasn’t that simple at all!  After a few tears on my daughters part, and then an explanation using a rational argument, she understood that this was a good career choice!  She also understood that we loved her and wanted the very best for her!  Once she got that … the rest was fairly simple!”

“So how did you make the choice to being a Pharmacist?” I asked.

“That too was easy”, he responded, “She loves math and the sciences, excelling in both particularly Chemistry, but she is very squeamish when it comes to blood and the medical profession.  Therefore becoming a Pharmacist was a simple decision.  It pays very well, no blood, significantly less hours per week than a doctor or nurse, no “On – Call” duties or shift work.  A Pharmacist can work part-time and is a perfect career for raising a family should she chose to do so.  A Pharmacist income will provide the funds and time to pursue her passion, music, in whatever direction that may take her!  It took her a little time to process this path we chose for her but she has come around and is looking forward to becoming a Pharmacist!”

So after all this information as to how the parents were able to guide their daughter, I reflected upon how they were able to make such a life defining decision for their children and have the children accept that decision.

These parents are just that!  Parents! They have actively participated in their kids lives and they did so from day one.  They do not and have never molly coddled their children.  The kids are not “Bubble Wrapped” in any respect.  The parents have encouraged independence giving the kids a long rope to explore and expand their lives but there was an end to the length of the rope.  The kids knew where the boundary was and if they ventured out too far appropriate action was taken.  This was often done thru a discussion asking the kid(s), as they got a little older, what they thought the consequences for their inappropriate behavior should be!

These parents have expectations of their children! Oh, how novel in this day and age! Expectations teach children responsibility and are fundamental foundational building blocks of creating self esteem in a child.

It is time to stop making and find excuses for our children. “Oh, my Johnnie or Suzie wouldn’t do that!  She (or He) would never tell their teacher to F-off!”  Parents, get a grip!  Most of you don’t have a clue what your kids are doing or thinking!  How involved in their life are you?

Here are a few litmus test questions for you?

  1. Do your kids (teenagers) like hanging with you?
  2. Do you like and enjoy hanging with your kids?
  3. What do you do with them that THEY enjoy?

If you answered “Yes” to all of the above, Good for you!

If you answered “Yes” to one of the above…that is a good start!

If you answered “No” to one of the above…I would encourage you to start to work on building the right relationship with your kids.  It is up to you…not them!

If you answered “No” to all of the above…get some help for you and your family as soon as you can!  It will not be your kids that are going to repair the relationship…it will has to come from you.  After all you are the PARENT!

So many parents seem to want to be friends with their kids!  Often they provide a long rope with no tether at the end.  No boundaries!  Kids need those boundaries because it provides guidelines to help define them and create a foundational structure of right/wrong, integrity, responsibility and respect for themselves.

More often than not kids lose respect of the parents pushing the parents away, increasing the distance of friendship when the boundaries are most needed! 

Yes, my friend who told me this story did pay a price of putting the kids first, they were not able to continue at random their former lifestyle but they adapted their lives, integrating their children into their lives!  As such, for a few brief years, of guiding their kids, the kids have the utmost respect and admiration love and affection for their parents and dare I say the parents and kids are now the “Best of Friends”!

[1] Teach also means to Guide

[2]  These children have not seen the working end of the rod more than 3 times in their lives


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