To parent in a way that appears different from the mainstream requires courage and faith that you will make a difference in your child’s character. I know the challenge of being true to this courage and faith, because I experienced it as a dad. Many of you are facing the challenge today.
You don’t allow your children to be “plugged in” to the video screen without restrictions. You allow your children to express their feelings and have their tantrums. You have limitations on what they can and cannot do or see. You are a parent who has set up respectful rules, agreements, and consequences, and has taken time to develop strong relationships with your children. You are a parent who avoids yelling, punishing, or reacting to your children’s testing and who then suffers the wrath of criticism from those who notice when your children test you. You don’t provide your children and young teens with cell phones or allow them to have a Facebook page, just because everyone else does. All the while, your family members, parents, neighbors, and even your spouse, may think you’ve gone overboard and have bought into the “new age” parenting. They may think you are spoiling your child. They judge you, talk behind your back, avoid spending time with you, and even find ways to sabotage what you’ve created.
Parenting effectively today is difficult for so many reasons. The world is no longer autocratic like the one in which we grew up. There are many differing opinions on how to parent. It is hard to become a parent you’ve never seen, and the media and advertising culture are not parents’ friends. Because we live more complex lives than our parents did, it’s often easier just to give in to our children’s demands or the pressure of what everyone else is doing.
I am writing this article for all of you parents who feel like you are alone in the world with your firm AND respectful style of parenting. I encourage you to believe in what you feel is right for your children and to not give up. You must have the faith that what you are doing is right; regardless of what everyone else is doing or how they are judging you. You are parenting today to help form and shape your children into the adults you want them to become.
A parent once said to me, “My parents yelled and punished me when I was growing up, and look at me… I have a job, a mortgage, and I’m able to live my life just fine.” I replied that I did not want my children to live their life “just fine.” I wanted them to live their life to the fullest, to find the work they love, to build awesome relationships, and to find their purpose in this world. Goals like these require parenting differently than everyone else and having the courage to stand alone.
Bill Corbett is the author of the award winning book “Love, Limits, & Lessons: A Parent’s Guide to Raising Cooperative Kids,” and the producer & host of the cable TV show, Creating Cooperative Kids, seen on Longmeadow’s community access channel 8. You can visit his Web site www.CooperativeKids.com for further information and parenting advice.