You find yourself saying to your children, "Man, if I had ever said that to my dad he would have locked me in my room for a week." At times, you think to yourself, "My parents would never have let me get away with that."
We recognize that times have changed. Yet, our parenting has not improved. It sometimes seems children are not as respectful nor as capable as we were at their ages.
Parents, we have forgotten that we are in charge. So how can we remember? It's as easy as 1-2-3.
1. Kids are not the center of the universe
We've all heard comments like, "Well, we're focused on the children." Or, "Our lives revolve around the kids." This concept of the child-centered family can cause damage to a marriage and to the family.
Think of riding a bicycle. Everything is balanced nicely. Now think of stacking up all your kids and their stuff on the bike with you. What happens? The slightest bump in the road and the whole thing falls over and collapses. Instead, think of having a nice tandem bike for you and your spouse. You are leading the way. Each child behind you is on his or her own bike - from the sleek 20-speed and mountain bike, to the cute pink bike with shiny streamers, and the little tricycle peddling like mad in the back. Clearly, the second ride is going to be much smoother than the first. So lead the way, but let them pedal for themselves.
2. Parents are the center
Our role as parents is to provide a solid grounding for the family in the stability and security of our marriage. Then, we can provide leadership and vision for the family. We need to be comfortable in that leadership role. If the marriage is at the center and is the foundation, then the children can build on that foundation.
3. Realize you're in charge and STAY in charge
As "in charge" parents, we need to take charge. We need to be comfortable in our role as the leaders of the home. If our children are constantly challenging us and we are often unsure of our decisions, we soon realize that we have not yet decided to be in charge. Don't ever forget:
You're a lot older.
You've got a lot more experience and real-life smarts than they do. Most of your decisions will be far better than they can make on their own - that's why they're children.
Accept the fact that your children don't understand that. They certainly don't or won't give you credit for it. That doesn't change that reality.
You're doing the best you can. I don't know of a single parent who wakes up in the morning and says, "You know. Today I'm going to try to be a crummy parent." Baloney. Every day you do the best you can, which is great.
The first challenge will come when the children ask, "Why do I have to?" Our parents were geniuses. They had a short answer. "Because I said so." When your boss gives you instruction or direction, do you stomp your little feet, bunch up your lips into a pout, and whine, "But WHY?" Not unless you want to be out of a job rather quickly. Because the answer is often, "I have more information than you and more experience than you and I understand where we're headed."
As parents, we have to be willing to experience frustration, lack of cooperation, challenges to our patience and certainly to our sanity, yet not give in. Keep your eye on the long haul. So today is the day. Decide to be in charge and to STAY in charge. Your children will thank you someday.