You Don’t Own Your Children
Teaching responsibility works better if you don’t see your children as an extension of you. You don’t own your children. They own themselves and their feelings and actions. They are persons with their own strengths, needs, and weaknesses. If you have more than one child, you will find each one different from the other. Discipline must be taylored to the needs of the individual child. Part of the task of parenting involves getting to know each child and respecting who he is. It requires liking the child and being willing to allow him to own his feelings, respecting your needs as well as his.
The Basic Task of Parenting
The basic task of parenting is to teach children how to manage themselves in age appropriate ways. Even preschool children can learn to help set simple rules like:
Indoor behavior indoors
Listen when someone else is talking
Ask before using someone else’s things
Eventually, they will be able to help write rules the family has made together and post them on the refrigerater or bulletin board. When our children were quite young, we began setting aside one night a week for family. We had a short meeting to take care of problems any of us had and then did something fun. You can read about it in my book, “How to Get Kids to Help at Home.”
Taking the Time to Parent
Encouraging your children to identify feelings and find possible solutions to their problems will give them a solid base for managing themselves well as adults. Intentional parenting requires time, research, and a willingness to discover the uniquenes of each of your children.